STORY BY Carly Dyer PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jesse Lenz and Corey Hendrickson
Like many couples, Sarah Wright and Giles Smith, the owners of Hostel Tevere, met in a dimly lit bar. It happened around 5 o’clock on a hazy September morning in 2006. All of Rome had stayed open for the night. This used to happen annually: the city would close roads off to vehicles, creating a haven for pedestrians to explore museums, restaurants, and everything in between. Wright was studying abroad; Smith had just graduated and moved to Rome after her own study-abroad experience there. Wright eventually followed suit, sealing their future together.
“Giles and I fed off each other, having similar mindsets,” explains Wright. The two soon thought about moving back to the States and opening up a hostel. Smith had worked in bars and restaurants, learning the trade. Wright had spent her childhood living in a bed and breakfast owned by her parents, checking on guests, helping her mom with the morning meal. Always ones to follow their gut, they purchased a place in Warren, Vermont, just before Christmas 2008. Hostel Tevere sits at the base of the Sugarbush ski resort, where Wright’s family had spent time vacationing. “It seemed like the right fit,” Wright says. “We wanted a vacation community that could support a hostel.”
After living abroad, the couple wasn’t afraid to open an unconventional form of lodging in an unconventional place. They joked about how they hadn’t stayed in many hostels together, but they each had an abundance of lodging experiences in Europe that gave them specific ideas of what they hoped for in a hostel. “We both just kind of looked at each other and thought, I think we can do this,” Wright says. Regardless of the quality of the hostels they’d visited, Wright and Smith appreciated the communal aspects. The pair remains enamored of the communal Italian culture they spent those years exploring, and Rome remains a vital influence on their lives, even informing the hostel’s name (a variation on Tiber—the river served as the backbone for the ancient city). After returning to Rome to wed (family in tow) and then bringing their baby boy, Findlay, into the world, the couple realizes that, in life, you have take risks, wipe the sweat from your brow, and venture on.
In the Mad River Valley, nestled at the base of Sugarbush ski resort, the hostel has prime access to an outdoor sports mecca. Mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and playing at the Frisbee-golf course nearby are available in the warmer months, whereas skiing, downhill or cross -country; snowboarding; and snowmobiling are where it’s at during winter. Thaw in the hot tub or dip into the pool at the hostel after a day of action.
Take part in the dart league or listen to live music while nursing a drink every winter weekend at the hostel bar. A seasoned bartender, Giles is known for his mojitos and the Bloody Mary mix he concocted himself out of necessity while in Rome, where he found that most people weren’t familiar with the beverage. The bar has eight draught lines and a rotating beer list, and usually serves four to five ciders and beers from local breweries such as Lawson’s Finest Liquids and The Alchemist.
Though there is no longer a restaurant in the hostel, Smith and Wright recommend some of the local joints nearby. The Mad Taco, a taqueria; The Common Man, contemporary American restaurant with a 19th century barn setting; and Peasant Restaurant, an establishment offering traditional Italian and French cuisine, are among their favorites.
Rid your mind of the dingy hostels you’ve heard of or stayed in. The beds at Hostel Tevere are cozy, with fresh linens, a down comforter, and plump pillows. The four sleeping quarters are communal, with bunks and single beds. Perhaps not ideal for a lover’s holiday, but perfect for a camp-like experience, each bed is meant for one person only. Beds are available for up to $35 in summer and $40 in winter.