Lolo Pass is Portland’s latest hostel-hotel hybrid now open on East Burnside Street

A new Portland hostel is betting that a freshly vaccinated population is not only ready to travel, but also ready to sleep with a group of strangers while exploring the world beyond their pandemic bubbles.

Lolo Pass is the latest local property to offer dormitory accommodation, following the highly anticipated opening of Icelandic spin-off Kex in late 2019. With 87 rooms that can accommodate up to 282 guests, the business at 1616 E Burnside St. is actually a hostel-hotel. hybrid, since some quarters are private while others hold four or eight beds that have shared bathrooms and lockers.

Lolo Pass is also home to Portland’s newest rooftop bar, a fifth-floor perch where locals and visitors alike can sip drinks and take in views of the Mideast. On the ground floor you will find a restaurant in the newly built lobby, a bar and a cafe which is due to open on June 12th.

Even before the pandemic, when locking people in cramped quarters became a health hazard, getting Americans to embrace hostel stays was still a bit difficult.

Lauren and Lee Gonzalez want to change those perceptions. The sisters are familiar with hostel life, having used them as a home base on their travels as students. After that experience, the duo thought they could improve the model, so after brief careers in finance, they moved to Barcelona and opened two small operations in 2006.

The Gonzalezes expanded to the United States several years later, opening The Local, an industrial building in Queens, NY, converted into dormitories. While simultaneously working on the launch of Lolo Pass, the sisters’ first build-from-scratch project, in development since 2017, they have successfully guided the East Coast property through the pandemic.

“When the travel ban was announced in mid-March, we saw bookings drop to zero overnight and almost everything that was on the books was canceled,” Lauren Gonzalez said. WW. “We put almost all of our staff on leave, and our saint of a general manager moved in to make things work with the help of my sister, Lee. We have finally stabilized operations with a cohesive group of long-term guests plus the occasional traveler.

On the contrary, Lolo Pass, named after the mountain the sisters spotted on old Oregon Historical Society expedition maps, might be an easy way to dip your toes into the world of hostels. Unlike a high-risk stay somewhere in Europe, you probably won’t get lost in Burnside; if you do, the road signs are all written in English and beds start at just $36 a night, making the stay affordable.

Related: The Nordic-themed Kex Hotel will reopen for accommodation and catering in early June

Linda G. Ibarra