Doing it on the cheap: Hostel benefits budget travelers

  • 2000-07-13
The St. Petersburg International Hostel (SPIH), has put up a new Web site ( Packed with valuable and otherwise hard-to-find information on travel in Russia, it is the one-stop site for anyone thinking of a trip.

The Web site helps visitors of all ages prepare to experience the beauty, art and culture of historic St. Petersburg and Moscow, from shoestring budget to top of the pops.

>From questions about safety, practicalities, services and travel to complete descriptions of the Russian visa process, is the Russia visitor's best friend. The hostel provides the invaluable service of Russian visa support for all of its guests. A Russian visa is necessary to enter Russia, and has made the process quick and easy.

The site provides access to city guides; country guides; arts, cultural and entertainment activities; travel safety tips and advisories; transportation information and railway schedules; hostelling guides; travelogues; weather and news reports; currency converters; an ATM locator; a language translator and a range of other vital information and services for the experienced or first-time traveler to Russia.

About the hostel

SPIH is a totally renovated and modern facility that has kept its pre-revolutionary Russian charm with parquet floors, high ceilings and spacious rooms. It is located directly in the historic city center, just a five-minute walk from the metro, the main Moscow Train Station and Nevsky Prospect - Russia's grandest main boulevard, which runs from the majestic Hermitage and Dvortsovaya Square to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

Breakfast is included with each night's stay. English movies are played nightly. Unique walking tours of the city occur daily. Internet access is available. Moscow trips are only a night train away.

The hostel is a member of both Hostelling International and Russian Youth Hostels.

In 1992 American Steven R. Caron of Laguna Niguel, California and his Russian partners established the hostel which has the plus of taking care of the visa process and allowing budget travelers to see and experience Russia with ease and less confusion the first time.

Background information

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in theater and business, from the University of Southern California in 1989, Caron left his home in Laguna Niguel for Russia. He began studying Russian theater and culture and the language. During his years living in St. Petersburg, Caron traveled extensively throughout the CIS and Eastern Europe. On his journeys, he found that hotels for foreigners were very expensive and Intourist tours too limited and poorly arranged. Most foreigners find hotels limited in services, frustrating and not up to western standards. Caron decided to offer an inexpensive and service-oriented alternative to "Intourist" that would provide a friendly environment and help to foster the interaction of people from varying cultures and encourage feelings of goodwill and understanding. Hence the hostel in St. Petersburg.

In 1995, the hostel opened Russia's first full-service student and youth budget travel agency called Sindbad travel ( Located in the hostel, Sindbad not only serves the hostel's guests, but also young Russians who want to travel abroad. Since 1995, Sindbad has expanded with offices at the St. Petersburg State University and in other CIS countries like the Ukraine and Georgia.