Only in Houston could a historic former mayor's mansion turned bed and breakfast become a youth hostel. Indeed, that is the fate of the beloved Lovett Inn, a beacon of Southern hospitality in the core of Montrose.
CultureMap spoke to Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau vice president of marketing Holly Clapham to gain insight on what the hostel means for the local tourism sector. She reports that the cozy b&b quarters will be thoughtfully transformed into six beds-per-room environments. For $27 a night, guests will have access to one of the 40-60 mattresses and (because of food and drug administration rules), a pre-packaged breakfast.
Clapham, who wed at the Lovett Inn in November 2004, met last week with John Canon, a representative of Hosteling International USA, the Silver Spring, Md.-based company with eyes on the Lovett Inn.
"It was kind of eye-opening," she said. "They felt that Houston is a really international city but lacking from international cities with hostels."
Hosteling International expects 60 to 75 percent of guests to be international, mostly Western European, either cross-country travelers or here-to-visit-Houston consulates. The median age would be 18- to 34-years-old. The company, which is currently toying with the name "Morty Rich Houston Hostel," would offer such amenities as excursions and the property's present guest-only pool.
(Rich, a Houston native and dedicated supporter of hosteling, left a bequest in his will for the establishment of this hostel, according to a plan presented by Hostelling International USA and local hostel organizers. Rice University used to have a small hostel that bore his name.)
"The location was obviously appealing because the owners were open to selling and it's centrally located to downtown, the Montrose area and Lower Westheimer," says Clapham. "To Hosteling International, it would be really appealing to people from Western Europe: The area has great food, great access to local business and it's good for students, too."
The property is still under contract, with no opening date set. Complications such as parking for up to 60 guests have yet to be determined, but it's likely that many lodgers would rely on buses.
"I think it's going to add a level of interest to accomodations, but won't compete directly," says Clapham. "And I think that's why it's so appealing."