When my roommate and I decided to make the legendary pilgrimage to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from Park City, Utah, we knew two things: That we were in for the best skiing of our lives … and that we weren’t sure we could afford to stay there.
You see, over the last few decades, Wyoming’s steep-skiing mecca has transformed from extreme playground to worldwide luxury destination. In fact, walking around downtown Jackson’s collection of fur shops and art galleries can feel a little bit like an upscale European vacation rather than a trip to a mountain town in cowboy country.
Luckily for us, one of the few things that hasn’t changed in Jackson is planted right in the Jackson Hole Ski Resort parking lot: The Hostel. As simple as its name suggests, The Hostel is Jackson’s no-frill lodging option, with better real estate than 80 percent of the lodging in town (just a four-minute walk in ski boots from the legendary Tram) at a fraction of the price.
We made our reservation the night before and rolled into Jackson Hole early morning. In the high season, shared bunk rooms start at $34, and private quad rooms and king rooms start at $79. Bleary-eyed, we were offered fresh-ground local coffee at the front desk, and dropped the $34 each a night for a rustic bunk room with exposed wooden beams and a private bathroom that we shared with a skier from Sweden.
In fact, he was one of many internationals we met during our weekend at The Hostel. Recognized by The New York Times and The Guardian, The Hostel’s reputation is global, hosting a serious international vibe inside its wood-paneled walls.
The price is right and the location can’t be beat, but it’s the aprés ski that writes The Hostel into the history books. After a long day on Jackson’s 4,139 vertical feet, the lodge transformed into a mountainside hub. Featuring a cavernous common area, The Hostel is built around community, offering a pool table, ping pong table, and shuffleboard, in addition to non-stop ski and snowboard movies cranking from the TV room.
Skiers looking to tone it down hung by the fire, or threw an extra layer of P-Tex on their skis in The Hostel’s ski waxing area. The Hostel even offered free overnight ski and board storage, as well as lockers in the rooms, to prevent any early morning surprises.
Outside, guests, locals, and a few off-duty employees battled it out in Jackson’s favorite party game, Gelande Quaff. Allegedly created one sudsy night in the Village, Gelande Quaff consists of teams sliding and catching beers off of an icy table. As you can imagine, games get heated, and nowhere more so than The Hostel. In fact, The Hostel’s team enters Jackson’s Gelande Quaff World Championship, and usually wins.
We opted for a night at the nearby Mangy Moose instead, sipping local microbrews and catching a live bluegrass band before staggering back home, exhausted.
A quick snow-report check on The Hostel’s complimentary WiFi, and we called it a night. Slipping off into sleep, we dreamed what thousands before us had dreamed from The Hostel’s cozy bunk rooms: Maybe, just maybe, we could do this forever.