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Hostel-tality: Boston hostel raises the bar

Metro hits Hostelling International Boston to check out its new digs and talk to tourists about their impressions of the Hub; turns out, people here are 'standoffish.' Who knew?

Known for its history, museums, universities, and of course, stellar newspapers, its not surprising that each year about 12 million tourists from around the nation and the globe hit up the Hub for a little sight seeing, and with 484 beds, one of Boston's biggest hostels has them covered.

In June, Hostelling International Boston opened its new facility on Stuart Street, often selling out to tourists eager for a cheap place to rest their head while in town.

But for those familiar with hostels around the world, checking into the secure, clean, green, state-of-the-art building is a surprising, albeit welcome, surprise.

"Most of the hostels in Europe are absolutely dingy," said 29-year-old Eyre Kurasawa, a British resident who stopped through Boston for five days on her way to Canada, and then Japan.

"There was one in Paris that was just awful. This is amazing. I've only been here for two nights, but its extremely clean, and all the bathrooms have no signs of mold or anything, and breakfast offers a lot of normal food - toast, bagels, cereals, porridge."

Hostelling International Boston rates range between $99 -$159 for private rooms which sleep up to three guests and $29-$55 per bed per night.

According to Deborah Ruhe, executive director of Hostelling International New England, the hostel is meant to cultivate a sense of community among Boston's international visitors.

"We're a non-profit organization with a mission to promote international understanding," she said.

"We do things intentionally to bring people together. You go to a hotel, you might meet somebody at the bar, but you're not really there to meet other people. Our whole purpose is about trying to bring together people so they'll interact and break down cultural misunderstandings."

Waiting in the community lobby, luggage in hand, Kurasawa said she enjoyed enjoyed her Boston jaunt, but admitted to Metro the city's personality is reminiscent of its British heritage.

"London is very standoffish, and I'm used to that, but I got the impression that Bostonians are a little more standoffish. I don't know why. It's funny though because some people are very friendly, but especially when I was in Cambridge, people tended to be a little bit more reserved. Maybe because they're academics," she said.

Another shocker for Kurasawa was how multicultural the city is: "I'm hearing French and Spanish all over the place, and there are people of all races as well. I never realized it was such an international city."

Kaiko Oizumi, 22, stayed in the hostel this week during her visit from Japan, and her impression of the city was similar to Kurasawa's.

"It seems people here are walking very fast, and seem to concentrate more on business and themselves," she said, adding that she has spent time in San Diego, and people there seem "more friendly and personable."

 
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