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Hostels offer affordable, sociable environment in Valley

PHOENIX — People are spending the night with complete strangers in the Valley and loving it.

No, it’s not like that. Travelers are scrapping the overnight stay at a hotel or motel and choosing to stay at hostels.

The Valley has two hostels, which offer everything motels do and then some. It’s like sharing a room of bunk beds with perfect strangers.

“If you were staying at a hotel and pounded on the door next door and said, ‘Hey I’m off to a movie or dinner, wanna join me?’ That might be a little awkward but that’s a normal occurrence at a hostel,” said Amber Harold, owner of the Camelbackpackers Hostel in Phoenix.

Harold turned her home at 13th Avenue and McDowell Road into the hostel last summer and said almost anybody can do it. They just need the right permits, meet zoning requirements and have a big enough house.

She has a lounge area with a TV, a shared kitchen and even karaoke. The guest rooms have bunk beds, which makes for close quarters with strangers. And that’s not an issue for guests.

“Nobody comes here to be alone,” she said. “They come to meet people. They want a local perspective on things to do and of course social interaction.”

She has a large number of visitors from Australia, Germany, Japan and other countries.

HI-Phoenix International Hostel at Ninth Street near Roosevelt Street offers private bathrooms.