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Pittsburgh's only hostel now open in Lawrenceville

Pittsburgh's first hostel in several years is now open in Lawrenceville.  Yet the establishment's name, Not Another Hostel, offers the first clue that it's slightly unconventional.

A project of John Potter and Steph Bercht, the hostel operates on a donations-based, pay-it-forward model where guests are encouraged to support the initiative with contributions, but aren't required to. Because, as Potter says, your stay has already been paid for.

Potter says the idea for Not Another Hostel developed during the course of the couple's own travels, informed by both good and bad hostelling experiences.  But the pay-it-forward model grew from a question Potter had been truggling with: Are people basically good, or not?

“In our last trip, we just had an overwhelming amount of people who would invite us into their homes, complete strangers, and I finally came to the conclusion that yes, I am positive, people are good,” Potter says.  “And I wanted to show that and pay back what I was given.”

The hostel's location is not available over the internet (it's about a block from the Children's Hospital, Potter says), and potential guests are vetted through their social media presence.  The website provides a contact form and a direct phone number to reach Potter.

Potter admits the current experience is something between couch surfing and hostelling.  The three-story home can accommodate up to 4 guests (comfortably), and features an information desk with maps and guides, basic amenities, and loaner bicycles.

Potter says the Pittsburgh Hostel Project, which is still seeking to re-establish a traditional hostel in the city, has been supportive of Not Another Hostel.  The city’s last hostel, Pittsburgh International Hostel, was located in the Allentown neighborhood, but closed in 2003. 

In the past two weeks the hostel has hosted around 25 guests, with visitors from Europe, Asia, and South America.  About half have paid for their stay.  But Potter says that’s not the point.

“It's really about hospitality as it should be, and not just about making money,” he says.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  John Potter
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