Upcoming hostel brings positive feedback


Shannon Kintner

Kent Roth, left, and Collin Ballard co-founded Austin’s Firehouse Hostel near 6th street and Brazos. Roth and Ballard plan for the downtown hostel, which is housed in 117-year-old Firehouse no. 1, to be open by the summer.

Kayla Jonsson

By this summer, downtown Austin will have a new place for tourists, musicians and students to stay on the cheap.

Firehouse Hostel co-founders Kent Roth and Collin Ballard, both Austin natives, said renovations will begin in about a month to convert office building Firehouse No. 1, located on Brazos and Sixth streets, into a hostel. Roth said the hostel will include eight bunk rooms, two European style rooms that share bathrooms and two suites with a private bath.

Roth and Ballard said they plan to incorporate artwork by Austin artists in the rooms and hope to offer musicians travelling to Austin a place to stay, especially during annual Austin events such as South By Southwest and Austin City Limits.

“We are shooting to officially open the hostel in April or May,” Roth said. “We really want to at least have it partially open for South By Southwest so we can give musicians a place to stay, even it can’t be overnight yet.”

The estimated prices for the rooms are $30 for bunks and $90 and up for the European style rooms and suites, Roth said. The business partners were introduced because they each had their own independent plan to make a hostel.

“We had both travelled through hostels a lot around the world and found them very useful and efficient, so we wanted to bring that to other people,” Roth said.

Roth and Ballard said they are pleased with finding a location in downtown Austin for a hostel because so many young people spend time there.

“We were looking at other locations for the hostel but when the opportunity arose downtown we chose it,” Roth said. “Downtown is where many of our potential customers will probably be.”

Students for Study Abroad President Sara Law said the hostel will help foreign exchange students by offering a place for their families to stay when visiting Austin.

“I think [the hostel] will have more of an impact on visitors than it will for foreign exchange students to Texas because UT sets up students in their own dorms,” Law said. “Perhaps when their leases are finished they will appreciate the hostel’s affordability and convenience.” Law said she hopes The Firehouse Hostel will offer the same experience she has heard foreign hostels bring to tourists.

“Abroad, [hostels] are considered a better way to truly visit and understand the cultural center of that city without paying the exorbitant price,” Law said.

Architecture senior Brian Anderson said he thinks young people will take advantage of the location and price of the establishment.

“I have stayed in hostels when I traveled and had a really good experience for a small amount of money,” Anderson said. “It will attract young people, especially because it’s downtown.”

Printed on Tuesday January 24, 2012 as: Co-creators introduce affordable downtown hostel for young adults