The traditional perception of hostels as cheap, unsafe or undesirable is shifting, as more properties emphasize high-touch design, tech-forward features, and creative programming. One such property that is shattering preconceived notions about the segment is Hostel Fish, an upscale hostel in Denver that has thrived since opening one year ago in the historic Airedale building. The property will celebrate this milestone on July 9 with a 1920s-themed bash commemorating its roots—as a brothel. (The building also functioned as a saloon and an adult bookstore in its past life.)
As more travelers seek out authentic experiences, even major hotel companies have introduced lifestyle brands that take cues from European hostels (think Marriott’s Moxy). With next-gen travelers looking to spend less time in their rooms in favor of exploring the locale, buzzy communal spaces and interactive social activities have become more important than a room’s square footage.
Dee Liang, marketing director for Hostel Fish, and Tara Kunst, the property’s “madame of hospitality,” say that with Hostel Fish, they wanted to set the precedence for exceeding the standards of an ordinary hostel. “We’re not the typical hostel as it is, being luxurious and design-led without compromising the budget pricing,” Liang says. “With this bash, we want the space to speak for itself and have it be a night for everyone to dress up and be together.”
For Hostel Fish’s grand opening last summer, it offered a Voodoo Doughnut wall, which Liang says is now an instilled tradition at Hostel Fish’s events. The backdrop for the one-year anniversary party sticks close to Hostel Fish’s style, with activities like pole dancing performances and a costume contest on the agenda. The hotel will cheekily honor its past with risqué themes, one being “Doxie Doves” (a classic, vintage word for prostitutes). “We’re just focusing on taking it old school and spotlighting the past history of what the building used to be,” Liang says.
Hostel Fish and Liang are excited for the community to come together to celebrate the property’s unique past and promising future. “It’s neat that we can share such a special milestone with our guests and community, and doing so with a playful nod to the quirky history makes it a bonus,” Liang says. “Brothel-turned-hostel is something worth celebrating.”