Roadrunner Hostel is what a backpackers hostel should be! Fun, friendly, international and local, with the owner around as much as the worker bees, this is a place to relax, meet fellow travelers, enjoy the sun, and have an Arizona experience.
Located right in downtown Tucson, at the heart of an admittedly small, but very lively city centre. As it's five minutes' walk (really) from the main bus and Amtrak stations, you first see a plain house but with an amazing, colourful, imaginatively-tiled, low wall around the whole front porch that only gets better along the side of the place. There is an entire miniature train and bike rack, each made into roadrunners as well as mosaics all over the walls and paths and doors; you haven't even made it inside yet!
Rooms and Bathrooms
Bunks are wooden, solid, and don't creak, but they're a bit small. If it's cold in the rooms there is a space heater in every room, and each one is mercifully quiet. There are extra rooms across the street, used as extra dorms in the winter months, particularly during the Gem Show, and they can be cold! They are more spacious and have a fridge, definitely away from the more crowded and lively hostel, but you need to find the heat-control.
The washrooms are very small; however, the toilets are separate from the showers in their own single water closets, giving everyone more of a chance at them. But they are, like all the facilities there, consistently clean and colourful!
Once checked in, there is always a busy crew of guests and well-traveled staff who are eager to help; a big open kitchen/living space with a big screen TV, Wi-Fi, public computers; even metal work themed to the roadrunner all over the house. There is a huge map of the world on the ceiling of the kitchen, and free coffee and waffles every morning to meet your roommates over. The hostel shuts down at midnight, though with the code you can get in later if you're out.
There is also a big outdoor back yard to chill out at with a couch, chairs, and tables, that is open but partly roofed in canvas to protect from the brilliant Arizona sun. The best part is the big orange tree; you can pick and eat the ripe fruit.
Once a year, the owner has an all-you-can-eat Pannenkoeken night -- the highlight are the thin crepes, which are his specialty -- and the place is packed. It's a free celebration for guests and staff and we were lucky enough to be there. Peter even has a full roadrunner outfit that he wears -- tail and feet and all -- and the fun goes on for hours. This hostel is nonsmoking inside, very friendly, and lively and popular with travelers of all ages. Somehow, the hostel staff keep the easy-going travelers' vibe going.
It's all a good indicator of the easygoing, fun-loving vibe of this hostel -- they just want everyone to have a good time on their travels, no pressure, but they do their best to accommodate everyone and manage to keep order and a clean hostel. If there is something of which they haven't thought -- and we think they've thought of everything, from lockers to a book-trading library, to a local phone to a bulletin board of events, locations and general info -- just mention it, and they will find a way to make it work. This trip was a return trip (we stayed five years ago), and we enjoyed it just as much.