Emily and I stayed at Local Hostel in Manaus the night before we went on a jungle tour and also the night after. The first night, we stayed in a private room with an ensuite bathroom and the second night we stayed in a six-person dorm room. We really enjoyed our stay. As we looked around, we felt like someone had taken all the notes we’ve been writing on our trip and used them for this hostel. When we asked one of the owners, Matheus, how they found so many good ideas he said they picked up the ideas while traveling and staying in other hostels–just like us! We shouldn’t have been surprised.
One of our favorite things about the hostel was the painted art on the walls. Apparently, they had a visit from an international group of artists who offered to do some artwork for them in exchange for accomodations. I think the hostel got a real deal. The artists took the blank walls and made them vibrant with color. Each room is styled around a different type of Amazon tree.
The hostel is kept very clean and there was always someone behind the desk and ready to help with whatever was needed. They provide cold filtered drinking water for free to their guests. They have an open air area with café tables on the main floor, and also a really nice terrace on the roof. They also have discounts arranged with local restaurants, including a great buffet-style vegetarian place just a few blocks away (we are always very happy to find vegetarian food, especially with a discount!).
They have a pretty good breakfast selection at the hostel in the morning with coffee, hot milk, juices, breads, cheese, fruit, ham, cakes, guava paste, and scrambled eggs among maybe some other items. I particularly liked that they included a Panini press, with which I made myself a delicious cheese and guava paste panini. I wish I had a picture of the breakfast!
The private room we stayed in was simple, but clean and comfortable. I have a travel pillow that I often use in hostels, but they had thick pillows on the firm mattress and I left mine in my backpack. The room also had an air conditioning unit that looked brand new.
On our second night there, I was really excited to walk into the dorm room and see that their bunks were pod-style, with a curtain that gives you a bit more privacy in your bunk (it doesn’t go all the way around, but it’s still nice and protects you from flashlight beams when your roommate gets up at 6:30am to leave for his jungle tour). I had only read about pods on other blogs, so it was cool to experience them!
We were so impressed with this hostel, and when we told Matheus and Daniel (two of the owners) that we have a dream of opening our own hostel one day, they offered to share some of the things they’ve learned in their first year (it will be a full year in March) with their own hostel. They also let us bounce some of our ideas off them. I will share more about that conversation in a sec, but I have to say that we just thoroughly enjoyed meeting them and only wish we could have met the other owner, Camilla, as well.
I don’t want to go into the minutiae, but there were so many little things that made this hostel great. The outlets and reading lights at the head of every dorm bed. The bucket of free earplugs. Such attention to detail.
Matheus and Daniel shared some of the failures and successes of their first year. They told us how they had booked some beds in the hostel for last March but the hostel wasn’t even totally ready when those guests arrived! They said how back in those days a guest might ask for a pot to cook with in the kitchen, and they would run to the store and buy one. They told us how Manaus (like various parts of Brazil) sometimes has public water shortages, and a hostel goes through a LOT of water. They hope to install a well soon, which should make sure there are no more water problems for them in the future– and the well should pay for itself in no time as their city water bill will drop significantly. They talked with us about working with different booking websites, and the software they use for booking guests. They now use a software they paid for, but apparently Hostelworld has a really good free software that they recommend when starting out. They told us how they’ve found that having a guitar available for guest use has been awesome when a talented musician comes through. They often play for the other guests and it really brings people together. They shared how it isn’t too hard or expensive to make pizza for a pizza night from time to time, when the hostel isn’t full. As graduates of a hotel management program, and rookie hostel owners, these guys just really had a wealth of wisdom and enthusiasm to share. We finished the conversation wanting to start our own hostel, more than ever.
Matheus and Daniel did offer one caveat, though. Running a hostel is hard work. They didn’t dwell on it, but we appreciated their candor in saying that we should remember that it’s a 24 hour job and can really take over your life if you let it. Be prepared to be exhausted!
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Local Hostel. It has a professional but comfy feeling that may be something like we’d want for our own hostel one day. And the notes we have from our conversation with the owners will be invaluable whenever we make our hostel dream a reality.
Obrigado, Local Hostel!