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27 replies
starting a hostel?
bamjoker
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I’m sure its crossed most of your minds but has anyone really thought about it and done any research? Would like to hear anyone’s thoughts

I am leaving from Chicago with $2000 for 64 days
PeterW
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Occasionally we see a post in this or other travel forums by someone who is either planning to or actually in the process of starting a hostel. But then nothing more is heard from them. I wonder why?

I have the desire to start a hostel in an attractive English town that at present has no hostel. The main problem is the cost of property, given that it would have to be close to a town/city centre. Another stumbling block might be the many government planning regulations, licenses, etc needed. I also think that Croatia is a country that needs hostels, and property might be cheaper.

seraphim
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When I was in Irkutsk, I thought it would be great to buy one of those gorgeous wooden houses and turn them into a hostel. I’m sure you could get one fairly cheap, a lot of them are very run down, and there really is a need of cheap backpacker-oriented accommodation there. But I’m sure this would be very hard (if not impossible) for a foreigner to do, and I don’t really know anything about running a business.

rv224
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Ive considered it as well – the hardest thing is choosing a location because if business goes well – you are stuck in that city for quite a while. It has to be a place you can settle down in. If you are looking in Europe, perhaps Eastern Europe is a better place because it is cheaper and there is less hostels there.

I’ve thought about it in Asia as well…just have other things on my plate right now.

seraphim
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It seems like new independent hostels are springing up all over eastern Europe, but if you’re quick I don’t think that market is "full" yet. Especially if you choose somewhere outside of central Europe, like former Yugoslavia. But yeah, you’d have to want to live there.

bamjoker
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I personaly would love to start one, if I knew anyone else that wanted to then I would start going into it right away. Ya I think eastern europe is the way to go for sure Czech and Croatia would be my top picks i think.

Also I think it would be alot easier if at least one of the partners where from the EU. All the rules about owning property outside of your own country might be more relaxed for fellow EU.

I think it would be years before Eastern Europe would be full enough of hostels to even make it difficult to start one, if you have good planning and know what travelers want then you can find a niche. I think the only factor in getting started now is property costs. E.E land is rising like crazy, only a few years ago you could buy a flat in old city prague for 60,000 euros ya try to find that price even in the subs.

I am leaving from Chicago with $2000 for 64 days
seraphim
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I don’t know what the situation is in the Czech Republic, but in Poland only Polish citizens can buy land or property. Even other EU citizens aren’t allowed to buy it yet for the next couple of years. So you’d have to go through a Polish citizen that would be the official buyer (I know a Belgian guy who bought a castle that way). And Croatia isn’t even in the EU.

TheVoiceInMyHead
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OH God, let me tell you that after working in several hostels, I should tell you that what looks really attractive as a guest can become a nightmare as a hostel owner…

First of all the many problems that are involved with starting up. While Eastern Europe may seem a good market, those countries, as well as many in Central Europe still carry on with crazy burocracies about building allocation (a building that is written down as a private residence cannot be suddenly turned into a commercial exercise like a hostel) which may take years to change, property ownerships (yep, in most countries only a citizen can be an owner) and then loads of rules you need to follow (most countries in central europe recognize hostels as different from hotels and have a different set or rules, but if these laws do not exhist, it is crazy because you need to give a minimum of meters square of space for each and that is not ok for a hostel to be economically convenient!).

All together, I have the feeling most small hostels are not following the laws… Most of those who are belong to big real estate corporations (you would be really surprised to know that little hostel in London is owned by a coporation, but indeed it is…).

Also, be aware that those hostels deemed independent are not so independent actually. In the last 2 years, the rise in the market coems not from really independent hostels, but from huge corporate hostels who ae able to keep low prices… This is having an effect on smaller hostels who often sell to bigger companies or close because cannot keep competitive prices with the bigger companies.

seraphim
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quote:
a building that is written down as a private residence cannot be suddenly turned into a commercial exercise like a hostel

I think it’s the same in Belgium. At least we aren’t allowed to turn our house into a commercial space (not that we would want to).

PeterW
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Thank you, Voice, for bringing us down to earth. I was certainly aware that government regulations can be sticky in some countries; I was hoping that they were not so in E Europe because they want to expand their economies, but alas they seem to be just as bad. Hostels in England have been assessed by tourist boards who find they do not meet up to their standards, eg the lack of a TV is regarded as bad! The owner of a hostel in Vienna has reported that he cannot have an oven in his self-caterers kitchen because he would have to have a member of staff on duty nearby to ensure that guests didnt get burned!!

seraphim
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Yeah, at the HI headquarters in Antwerp they told me recently built HI hostels in Belgium don’t even have a self-catering kitchen anymore because it’s too hard to meet the fire safety regulations. So we were lucky that the one in Bouillon was older.

bamjoker
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I love how bureaucracy, litigation, and the actions of the stupid ruin everything good in this world. Thanks for the info guys seems like the only way to live your dreams anymore is live in the 3rd world.

I am leaving from Chicago with $2000 for 64 days
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Coming from someone who owns rental property, it’s my view that as fun as running a hostel might seem, realistically, it’s a helluva lot of work. You know, stuff that isn’t fun, like cleaning and various housekeeping duties. People break stuff and you have to fix it. It probably takes awhile before you’re profitable enough to hire staff.

ejmarkow
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Hi,

I’m an American that moved to the mountains of south-eastern Poland 3 years ago. I bought two large farms and one is going to open up as a youth hostel this year. In fact, the inside is already done. I must do the outside, paint and etc. My barn will have music and dancing, and there will be internet cafe and pub. The price is cheap by European standards. All welcome!

Here is my website:
http://www.geocities…

Cheers,

Eugene
Siemiechow, Poland

Eugene
Siemiechow, Poland
http://ejmarkow.byet…

clunker
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quote:You know, stuff that isn’t fun, like cleaning and various housekeeping duties. People break stuff and you have to fix it. It probably takes awhile before you’re profitable enough to hire staff.

Yah, like washing other people’s sweat/vomit/urine/sperm soaked sheets.

On a side note, my wife and I have discussed the possibility of opening a B&B in Ireland. Not right now, but maybe a few years down the road. We could have one of her sisters run it for us, and we’d always have our own place to stay when we’d visit.

PeterW
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Good luck, Eugene! Seraphim, that’s an area you like visiting, isn’t it? Maybe some of us could come as a welcoming party!

seraphim
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I haven’t been to Eugene’s area yet but I sure would like to go there some day. When are you opening, Eugene? It would indeed be nice if some Eurotrippers could hold a fest there when you open

clunker
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Would we get a discount?

TheVoiceInMyHead
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quote:
Coming from someone who owns rental property, it’s my view that as fun as running a hostel might seem, realistically, it’s a helluva lot of work. You know, stuff that isn’t fun, like cleaning and various housekeeping duties. People break stuff and you have to fix it. It probably takes awhile before you’re profitable enough to hire staff.

I agree completely… For my experience as a person working high up in the rank of hostel staff, I have to say it can be a real nightmare. And it takes quite a big investment and some time to become a profitalbe venture.

Dmages to the property being the biggest problem, lack of stable staff being another huge issue… Eugene, I wish you luck for this point. People willing to work for reasonably cheap are mostyl backpackers. But as it is natural, either they stay for a really short period of time or once they have got the drills, move on to a bigger and more interesting city. It is honestly quite an issue.

seraphim
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Speaking of staff, do you need a receptionist or something, Eugene? I speak 6 languages (though only 2 are really fluent), am available from late june and would love to live in Poland for a while.

ejmarkow
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PeterW, Seraphim, Clunker, TheVoiceInMyHead, and Everyone else,

Thanks for your nice wishes and comments! I really like the idea of holding a ‘Eurotrippers Fest’ here, along with music, dancing, campfire, mountain biking trips, and much more. Let’s do that! Seraphim, you are the main person in charge for this! The prices here are going to be so reasonable, that it is already a discount. Smile

I do have offers here for two (2) individuals that wish to stay here at my hostel for free, in exchange for their help. I need the following for now, and in time could become permanent or on contract with salary as more clients start coming and becomes busy:

1 Hostel worker that will peform several general functions and to watch and overlook the hostel, make trips to purchase food and other items, and booking functions using the internet and phone. Transport will be paid for when going out for purchasing, and general help around the premises.

1 Hostel worker to assist me in very heavy labor, which includes cement work, building, construction, painting, lifting and carrying materials. We will do the following: Refurbish the barn for that will include hall for dancing, music, ping pong, and baskeball, another room for basic accomodations representing the lowest price category, and a stable for horses, chickens, and a kitchen, cafe, and place for sitting, eating, and drinking. The outside of the main building must be plastered with cement and painted.

Preliminary prices are (may be adjusted to become more competitive, however, I think the prices are great):

Private room with 2 beds for 2 people: 32 zloty per night per person (about $10 US)

Bed in large sleeping area with 16 bunkbeds: 16 zloty per night (about $5 US)

Private family/friends room, entire building (wooden log cabin): 32 zloty per night per person, from 1 to 6 people.

As a bonus to kick things off this year, I would like to invite any of you that took part in this intial discussion (prior to this posting) to visit me and stay one night for free! Smile Transport from Siemiechow to major cities such as Tarnow, Krakow, and Nowy Sacz is excellent! Historic sites and things to do here are enormous! There are two buses per day going to Siemiechow from Krakow, and two buses per day going to Krakow from Siemiechow. Each trip to Krakow/Siemiechow costs only about 13 zloty and the trip takes about 2 1/2 hours, right to the bus stop ("Siemiechow Granica&quotWink near the hostel. Call or send an e-mail prior to coming.

Also, please post more opinions, comments, suggestions, and any questions that you might have for me, or just come over here and visit! Thanks!

Eugene Markow
Siemiechow, Poland
http://www.geocities…

Eugene
Siemiechow, Poland
http://ejmarkow.byet…

letod
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I started a hostel several years ago in Florida and I gotta tell ya, it’s a f****** nightmare. There will ALWAYS be just few travelers that will spoil it for everyone else. You have to set rules and stick to them otherwise human nature will take over. Unfortunately, it’s the reality.

I loved the business but hated the fact that I had to ‘police’ the hostel 24 hours a day.

ejmarkow
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Letod,

Have you ever thought of holding your guests &quotassport" as an effective means of control? If they trash your hostel, you simply confiscate their passport, and take legal action. Also, I intend to inspect the room before and after a client uses it. At the end of their stay, if anything is damaged, they must pay for the damage or else they don’t get their passport back. That is effective control.

Eugene
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http://ejmarkow.byet…

bamjoker
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letod

where in Florida, I live there at the moment and would like to check out your hostel sometime

I am leaving from Chicago with $2000 for 64 days
clunker
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quote:I loved the business but hated the fact that I had to ‘police’ the hostel 24 hours a day.

Sounds like he/she had moved on from the buisness.

PeterW
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ejmarkow: I’ve sent you an email — twice. Did you receive it?

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I doubt that holding onto a passport for collateral will work very well. I certainly wouldn’t stay at a hostel like that, and I’ve never damaged anything. The passport is not your property – I think you’d be on shaky legal ground.

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I’ve had my passport held by hotels until I checked out at least twice. Once in Prague, can’t think of the other, Munich maybe. It’s more of a way to make sure you don’t take off without paying rather than a means of damage control.