The Crash Pad: A Hip Hostel for Your Chattanooga Adventure
Chattanooga draws outdoor adventurers like a magnet, and the owners of the Crash Pad hostel are capitalizing on that.
The city is regarded nationally and internationally as a top destination of climbing and whitewater kayaking. Hang gliding, trail riding, hiking, rafting, and running venues make this southeastern corner of the state the go-to place for outdoor enthusiasts.
“Anytime there is a trail race, rowing event, cycling event, road race, or climbing competition, we are booked up months in advance,” says manager Compton Fields.
Crash Pad owners Dan Rose and Max Poppel are dedicated climbers. Both from the Boston area, the two college buddies fell in love with Chattanooga and its climbing opportunities. They frequently had people—say a dozen or more—stay overnight with them. They realized the climbing community needed a place to crash.
Dan and Max set out to build an affordable accommodation, but they took extra steps to make it more than a bare-bones hostel. The two-story building has attained LEED Platinum Certification. It was designed to have lots of character, such as furnishings constructed from reclaimed wood, custom-made sinks and metal work. They opened the Crash Pad in 2011.
Instead of the regular bunk, guests stay in handcrafted wood beds with a wrap-around enclosure with privacy curtain. Each bed has a reading lamp, fan, lockable storage space, and two electrical outlets. Twenty-four beds are arranged in six areas.
Five private rooms feature queen-size beds, sinks and ceiling fans; one of these rooms has an additional bunk for a third person. Rates per night are $27 for super bunk and $70 for private room (plus tax). Super Queen is $95.
Separate men’s and women’s restrooms are located on each floor. A professional cleaning service comes every day so the hostel remains very neat and tidy.
Dan and Max knew the answer to “What do our guests need?” They provide a storage area for bikes, backpacks and other outdoor gear. They provide access to free WiFi throughout the building and free computer access in the living room. Here we meet Mireille de Groote, 20, of The Netherlands while she searches online for a place to stay in New York City, her next destination. She plants her pin on the wall map punctuated by other hostel guests from around the world.
Comfy sofa and chairs invite guests to stay awhile and browse through a bookshelf of climbing and hiking guidebooks. Everyone has use of a fully equipped kitchen and laundry room. Eggs, bread and coffee are supplied for breakfast. Enzo’s Market, an artisan grocery and café, is a block away. Greyfriar’s bakery is around the corner.
“Climbers live on a budget. They get groceries, fix dinner and share with other guests in the house, sit around and drink beer and share their stories,” says Compton, about end-of-the-day activities at the hostel. Guests also gather at an outdoor area with pavilion, benches, fire pit, and flower garden.
Urban enthusiasts like the Crash Pad’s location in the revitalized Southside because restaurants, bars and entertainment are in easy walking distance. The Flying Squirrel landed on the adjoining property. It is a bar and casual dining spot. “It’s great for our guests to be able to check in, walk 20 feet, and be there,” says Compton.
The hostel’s energetic clientele can feel the vibe of the Southside at Track 29 concert venue, located around the corner, or at the Terminal Brewhouse. They can sample rustic southern Italian cuisine at Alleia Restaurant, eat home cooking at Bluegrass Grill and enjoy an authentic Mexican meal at Taqueria Jalisco.
In addition, downtown’s riverfront nightlife, attractions and the Bluff View Art District are just 8 blocks from the Crash Pad’s front door.
Most guests arrive by car or bike because public transportation to the hostel from the Megabus drop-off site is complicated. The hostel offers free parking on its own small lot. A Bike Share station is nearby. Guests have 24-hour secure access.
Upcoming Outdoor Activities
The hostel is in a convenient location for people coming to The Block, the new climbing complex near the Tennessee Aquarium, set to open this fall. It is ideal for visitors attending special events, such as the RiverRocks Outdoor Festival, Oct. 4-13. More than 120 events are scheduled, including hot air balloon rides, film fest, live music and obstacle course. The Chattanooga Head Race, scheduled for Oct. 12-13 at Ross’s Landing, will feature high school, college and event master rowers.
Additionally, Chattanooga was recently selected to host the 11th race in the U.S. IRONMAN series because of its acclaim as a premier outdoor sports destination. The first one will be Sept. 28, 2014, and already reservations are coming in at the Crash Pad.