The Barn Door Hostel was started in 2018. But like any good story, there’s always more.
In 2012, founder Dave Cook was working at a summer camp as a youth director, team building facilitator, rock climbing instructor, and environmental educator. He was loving life but found himself wondering what life was like outside this quiet town in Connecticut that he’d grown up in. In the fall of that year, Dave decided to leave the east coast and head west. Using his managerial experience he applied to several non profits. While waiting to hear back from job interviews, he found himself short of cash and stayed a night in his first ever hostel. “Welcome to The International Travelers House” it said on the walls of the old victorian home. Something about this experience of sharing and friendship and community lit a fire in Dave’s heart. He abandoned all job interviews and offers and decided to stay at the hostel for good. First as a guest, paying $25 a night (in downtown San Diego this was a steal!) then as a volunteer, where he would exchange his work/culture for room and board. After several months, the owners offered him a managerial position and he stayed. After 9 months, this brand new hostel had gone from barely a blip on the map to the #1 rated hostel on several accredited travel sites (hostelworld, yelp, trip advisor). It was here that Dave found his niche—being a host. He loves bringing people together, sharing stories and culture, and laughing between beer sips and marshmallow roasts.
In 2015, after leaving the hostel industry and traveling the world, Dave found himself working as a programs manager job in a rock climbing gym. It was here that he was reintroduced to his love of hosting and managing and guest relations. “The goal of creating my own hostel came to me after sharing a beer with my girlfriend—whom I’d met at the hostel in San Diego”. He continued to date and travel with Helene. Along the way, the dream of owning/operating a hostel grew and developed. “By the time I was working at the gym, day in and day out, the idea of starting a hostel was less of a dream and more of a must do.” In 2016, he left the gym, scoured the earth for an appropriate property, before setting his sights on Rumney New Hampshire.
Along this journey, he met his best friend Dom Pascariello. “He’s the one that really pointed me towards Rumney. With Helene, I was looking in San Diego, in New Orleans, basically anywhere with awesome weather and culture.” Dom and Dave looked at properties together, asking their parents for help and guidance. Dom accepted a job in Colorado—Helene a job in France—so Dave convinced his parents to go in on the (now family) business.
The property was purchased in May of 2018 and immediately saw interest from people looking to camp. “There’s a ton of campgrounds in the area, but none that are mom/pop shop [and/]or specifically cater to climbers.” That all changed when the Cook family announced online that the Barn Door was open. “There was a climbing festival here this past summer run by the AAC, we had people from sleeping in their cars, people from Quebec City and Montreal tenting in the big field, all just to climb and share a smile across a campfire.”
The hostel itself was an old chicken coop barn back in the 1800s. From historical accounts of neighbors, it used to be 4 stories tall. It’s since been downsized to just two floors. After being a chicken coop, it was a mechanics shop. The common area once held auto lifts bolted into the ground. There were shelves filled with gaskets, screws, and trinkets one might find in the back of a NAPA. From May 2018-September 2018, the barn was completely gutted down to the studs and cement. “We went through two or three massive dumpsters of insulation, pegboard, metal, glass, you name it.” Days after Dave’s 32nd birthday, the barn started to be built back up. The rotted wood was replaced, earth was moved, walls were built, and windows installed. The interior was designed by Dave. It features two bunk rooms with 8 and 10 beds. One “private suite” that can operate as two separate rooms that sleep two, or one larger room that sleeps 4. It also features a room upstairs that overlooks the common area. This room sleeps 6 people. Finally in the back, there is a private room with its own bathroom and walk in closet. In total, it can accommodate 30 people. “To me there are two major important things in a hostel: the mattresses and the common area. I ordered the best mattresses I could find within our budget, and designed the common area to be this massive great room with a kitchen, couches, belly up bar top—basically anything you want from home, its here at the Barn Door Hostel.”
Dom has since left his job in Colorado and moved up to Rumney. He is currently helping with renovations to the barn as well as creating some marketing materials and brainstorming ideas.
Helene left her job in France and moved to Montreal. She is currently helping the company as well with renovations, marketing, strategy and ideas.
Dave’s parents currently live on the property and are financially and morally supportive of the company