This guest post is by Cris Mueller.
Firehouse Hostel and Lounge is a morsel of Austin history sitting quietly amongst the hustle of our fondly regarded West Sixth district and the bustle of our downtown office high-rises.
Business partners Kent Roth and Collin Ballard have tastefully occupied the legendary Washington Fire Engine Co. No. 1 with a boutique style hostel that offers seasoned backpackers and first time hostel goers a unique Austin experience.
Hostel Accommodations, Flexed
Although the Firehouse Lounge opened in April of 2012, the full concept – including the boutique style hostel – opened just in time to welcome Austin’s 2013 SXSW visitors.
Housed inside the historic Washington Building at 605 Brazos Street, Firehouse offers distinctive guest accommodations within reach of Austin’s best known downtown shopping, entertainment and business districts.
Located across the street from Austin’s renowned Driskill Hotel, Roth and Ballard have created an affordable lodging alternative for travelers and locals alike.
You can expect traditional, with a kick! Shared and private accommodations, 24-hour reception, laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi and breakfast come standard.
But with this updated concept, you can also splurge on private suites, use the speakeasy lounge entrance, and get more bang for your buck with a location matched by many of Austin’s most well known and highly sought after hotels.
Firehouse Hostel and Lounge, much like Austin, has attracted a diverse bunch made up of both international and domestic travelers. Since opening their doors, bands, business travelers, college students, couples and even families have stayed as guests.
Roth says that, moving forward, they will continue to cater to traditional travelers “looking for a unique and affordable accommodation option.” Firehouse will also market to larger groups. “That could include companies, college groups, festival staff, or anyone needing accommodation for thirty to sixty people on a budget,” explains Roth.
For the Love of the Locals
Roth and Ballard began this labor of love with two similar, but independent, visions. They “finally decided to pool resources to make it happen.” With the same sense of community, the pair put their personal touch into the day-to-day operations of the Firehouse. If you’re lucky, you can catch them at the reception desk like I did.
While the hostel provides guests a place to lay their heavy heads overnight, the Firehouse Lounge also offers locals a swanky spot to indulge.
The vibe at the Firehouse Lounge, like its younger sibling hostel, emits everything Austin. You can make yourself comfortable, dropping in after a day at the office or a day of catching local sights. Suit or flip-flops, Champagne Julep or a Lone Star, you will fit right in.
Boasting a recent accolade of “Best New Lounge” from Austin Monthly and a feature in Imbibe Magazine’s “Guide to Drinking in Texas,” the lounge is known for its extensive classic cocktail and craft beer menu, a 7 day a week happy hour, and live, local music every day except Monday.
In the spirit of helping their neighbors, Firehouse also plays host to another fantastic concept: “pop up restaurants.” Their most recent partner was Foil and Coals, who is currently in the process of opening their own brick and mortar. This sort of community ambiance is what affords visitors an “ideal jumping off point to enjoy what Austin has to offer,” says Roth.
Why You’ll Be Back
Each time I talk to a business owner, I throw in one question that really gets them thinking and smiling. This gives me great insight into their concept. Roth’s response to my question was so great that I couldn’t edit it. So here is our dialogue in full:
Q: Tell me about your most memorable guest?
A: A 64 year old gentleman from Sweden decided to come to Austin for an entire month for the sole purpose of seeing as much live music as he could. He first went to the Driskill, but decided it was a little too pricey, and then a local recommended he check us out. He’s been staying in a dorm room for several days now and has made friends with just about everyone in the hostel. He’s become somewhat of a regular at the lounge as well, and said he’ll perform at open mic next Wednesday.
There are signs of a sophisticated future for Firehouse Hostel and Lounge. Keep an eye out for an exterior building fluff, new signage and offers of local excursions. Other plans for the future? Roth responded by simply saying, “We’re each going to take a few much needed days off.” While they’re catching their breath, you can stay connected by visiting their Facebook page.
Whether you want to create a true Austin experience for an unsuspecting traveler or you are the unsuspecting traveler, make your mark at the Firehouse Hostel and Lounge.
Cris Mueller’s heart is hooked to Austin, though she was sprouted in Albuquerque, NM. She has made herself at home in three countries, five states domestically, countless communities and suffers from severe wanderlust. She is a storyteller of passion, travel, food and good people doing great things. Want to ask her a question? You can find Cris in the sunshine, near the water and most likely in the middle of a great story.
Photos courtesy of Nick Delisi.