3 Good Reasons Milwaukee Needs a Hostel

Hostel signResidents of Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood seem to be pushing back against the possibility of having the cities first hostel next door. According to this article on onmilwaukee.com, two neighbors in particular have filed letters of opposition, and the two ladies trying to create the hostel think it’s because of the “negative stereotypes” hostels are known for.

Now, I’m not an expert on hosteling, but I have stayed in them when visiting both Portland, OR and Charleston, SC and saw nothing bad with either of them. In fact, those two hostels gave me some of my most memorable stays anywhere. I was even tempted to open a hostel in Milwaukee, but opted instead for this blog and some extended travel.

I think one of the biggest problems I have with the opposition to this hostel is that the neighbors that are wary of it have probably never stayed in a hostel before. Chances are their knowledge of hostels stems solely from heresay – from people who also probably have never stayed in hostels before – and what they’ve seen in movies and on TV.

But really, it’s just opinion versus opinion at this point. Granted, an opinion based on experience carries a little more weight in my book than one that isn’t, but it’s still just an opinion. A cursory search on Google revealed that there aren’t safety statistics out there comparing hostels vs. hotels, which is too bad.

Since there’s not many facts to go on, let me try to point out some rational reasons why Milwaukee is in need of a hostel.

  1. Travel Recognition – Milwaukee has virtually no tourism industry to speak of. Which is unfortunate, because it’s a great city and deserves a little more recognition. Independent travelers – the “early adopters” of travel, if you will – are normally not the hotel crowd. Until we get cheap, independent accommodations, we won’t get people championing this city to their audiences.
  2. Prospective College Students – The city isn’t a “college town” in the traditional sense because it’s not defined by its universities, but there are multiple schools here that bring students in from around the world. Marquette University has a top medical school, MSOE is frequently rated a top 10 engineering school in the country, and Alverno is famous across the USA for its nursing program. Having a hostel would make it much easier for prospective students to come and see how much they’d enjoy Milwaukee.
  3. International Travelers – Hosteling is much larger outside of the USA. People from outside of the US stay at hotels unless they’re really splurging on their travel. I may be romanticizing it too much, but I think any time people in the USA can meet people from outside their country, it’s a good thing. To get outside perspective and learn how other parts of the world work is always a good thing.

The best thing I think the neighbors in Walkers Point could do is to take a vacation, stay in a hostel, and see what they think. If a real-life experience fails to change their opinions of hostels, then they have a base for their complaints. Otherwise, they’re just sticks in the mud bent on not letting the city move forward.

What’s your experience been with hostels? Do you think one would be good for Milwaukee or bad for it?


  1. Hi Andy, I certainly agree with you. A good mix of all kind of accomodation, including hostels is necessary for a city of the size of Milwaukee to prosper.

    Kind regards

  2. I think the neighbors would do better to get involved in the process and try to ensure that it’s going to be the kind of hostel that is welcoming and appealing to everyone, rather than party cental. While the “negative stereotype” seems to lean to the party central side, most (every?) hostels I’ve ever stayed at were pretty low key and seemed like they’d be perfectly good neighbors to have in a city. Especially if you run any kind of restaurant or retail establishment.

    • Totally agree with you Jamie. I think it’s always better to collaborate rather than just trying to put your foot down about something. And the only hostels I’ve stayed at have been very low-key and respectful as well.

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