Vessel Hostel (San Juan, La Union)

Beyond beds, books and beers, hostel stay is life. — no_juan_is_an_island

When I was in college, La Union has been our go-to destination if we wanted a quick weekend getaway. With its proximity to Baguio, Elyu is one outright choice. Dotted with fine, grey-black sand, and a stunning sunset during the late afternoon, the coastal town of San Juan was then but a budding surf spot.

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The annual La Union Surf Break, the discovery and unveiling of more Elyu attractions (like Tanagdan Falls, Bahay na Bato, grape-picking in Bauang), and even a hit indie movie all contributed to the increasing number of people visiting the province. And in all of these, San Juan became an important hub for tourists and travelers alike. Year after year, this once quiet, the fishing town became more popular to surfers and beach campers alike. Also, a number of establishments (from resorts to restaurants and hostels) sprouted like mushroom through the years.

DSC_7309One awesome addition to this array of accommodations is a hostel built from shipping containers called VESSEL HOSTEL. So during a not so busy weekday, I got the chance to try this seemingly Instagram-worthy abode in Elyu.

Located in Urbiztondo, San Juan (which is where most of the surfing action, beach bumming, partying, eating and sleeping quarters are), this hostel created by Buji Libarnes and Nikki de la Paz, is pretty easy to find. Vessel is a 4-storey hostel all in all made up of 22 beds in dorm-type rooms. The ground level is where the front desk is. The rooms are found at the 2nd and 3rd levels. The beds are all double-deckers, each of which goes with a mini-desk, sockets for your gadgets, and a locker. Moreover, each room has an air-conditioning system and even electric fans. Each guest also is provided with a towel during his/her stay. Some rooms have a toilet and bath inside them, while those that do not have, may use the hostel’s very clean and complete bathroom.

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The 3rd level is also where a mini sala is found. Nikki, the co-owner, and I had a great time sharing our travel experiences and some random stuff from surfing to hiking. It was such an inspiring conversation wherein she also shared how Vessel started, and how she and her husband have envisioned this hostel venture of theirs. (Here is a quick trivia: Both Buji and Nikki are architects. No wonder, almost every corner of Vessel Hostel is aesthetically appealing! And both of them are surfers. Now that isn’t surprising at all).

The 4th and topmost level is where one finds the roof deck that offers a lovely sea view. If one doesn’t feel like going to the seaside to watch the sundown, this part of the hostel seems a perfect spot. Also, a small kitchen and dining area is found at this level. A stay at Vessel Hostel comes with a complimentary continental breakfast. During my stay, bread (and a choice of butter or strawberry jam to go with it), boiled eggs, banana, and coffee were served. (Do note that you just get what you can eat AND do not forget to clean/ wash whatever you have used).

Whenever I am in San Juan, I spend most of my time outdoors. Either I go and practice my dwindling surfing skills, or hop from one resto to another, and eventually wait for the sunset by the shoreline (as the sundown at this side of the Philippines is really spectacular). It spent it differently during my overnight stay in San Juan. I just went out to check the surf scene quickly that gloomy afternoon, then went to eat dinner at a nearby food nook called “Tagpuan” then went back to the hostel and spent some time in bed, reading, and yes, writing. (The bed is really hard to resist as it is really comfortable you’d doze off at an instant”.

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Other things you might want to know about Vessel Hostel:

  • They do have wifi. A good one I must say.
  • There are a lot of restaurants that are within walking distance from Vessel.
  • They also have shower rooms outside the hostel.
  • They have endearing staff who are always ready to help you out with your needs.
  • The bathroom has a bidet, the shower room with liquid soap/shampoo.
  • The dorm room I was staying had a mini terrace (not sure with the other rooms).
  • They sell some stuff like shirt and sando (which I’d probably buy when I come back).
  • The rate of an overnight stay is at Php980.00
  • You will be asked to give a Php500.00 deposit upon checking-in.

Vessel Hostel

Urbiztondo, Manila N Rd, San Juan, La Union. (from Manila, it is at the right side of the road).

Bookings maybe done through vesselhostel@gmail.com

You can check out their Facebook Page here.

So if you find yourself wanting to de-stress or soul-search up north, without compromising the need to stay at some place truly relaxing, make your way to La Union and aboard the Vessel Hostel. You need not bring much because when you are in La Union, #ElYuNeedIsLove… and who knows, you might end up saying #IFinallyFoundSanJuan. Cheesy? Yes! Fun? Yes, Yes!!!

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

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