Review of PodShare in Los Angeles, A Boutique Hostel
For $40 plus tax, you get a lot: a clean bed, towel, and access to a communal kitchen, bathrooms, and co-working space right in the heart of the Downtown LA arts district.
Verdict: Great value. Hard-working and nice owners. If you’re on a tight budget and need a place to crash in LA for a few nights, recommended.
Pod capsule bed from Podshare in DTLA
PodShare was founded in 2012 by Elvina Beck. She is supported by Kera Package who runs Operations. They have two locations: Downtown LA, with 16 beds, and West Hollywood, with 2 beds and lots of co-working space. Additional PodShares are planned to open this year in LA.
I paid for my room. When I arrived, I asked Elvina and Kera if I could take pictures and interview them for this blog. I’ve spliced in some of their comments with my photos below.
Quick Video Walk-through of Downtown LA Podshare
Q: If occupancy is over 90%, why not have more beds?
Elvina told me, “This is boutique. We’re not a faceless mega-hostel. We want it to feel like your local bar, but with beds. Like Cheers. With beds. You should be able to walk in, do a lap, and say: OK, I got it.”
Q: Why the focus on memberships?
Elvina again: “Access points. It’s less transactional. Memberships make it feel more like a community. The bigger picture involves many Podshares, all around LA, where people can pop in and out. Imagine stopping in to use the bathroom and doing some coworking while you’re out, or meeting your friends in our communal space before a night of partying.”
(Nick’s note: I think it has to do with zoning. If they marketed Podshare as a true hostel or hotel, I’m guessing it might need a different set of approvals from the city or state. Saying that they sell memberships and day-passes, instead of beds, could be a very admirable way of skirting these laws. Much respect if that’s the case: it is an inventive, entrepreneurial solution.)
More about memberships, and kicking people out
Kera, who runs Operations: “We approve 99.9% of applicants for their first night. After you submitted your order, I looked you up and saw your website, and I approved you. But longer term, someone has to stay here and we have to approve them. Everyone asks us: What’s the worst case scenario with a guest? But it’s really not that bad. It’s a horrible snorer. And we have to ask them not to stay, because that can be disruptive to others.”
Alternate view of pod beds at Podshare in Los Angeles
View from coworking space at Podshare LA in Arts District
Misc Notes, Mostly Stuff I Liked
- Upon arriving, the Founder was quick to point out a local art gallery and a free yoga class in downtown LA that I could attend at 7am the next morning. They also had a pull-up bar, and in the morning I was encouraged to do “your morning pull-ups!” I managed six.
- PodShare offers some free food in the communal kitchen. I saw at least one resident eating a bowl of the free ramen.
- Firm beds! I liked the mattress. It was was better than those at The Standard Hollywood.
- The upstairs coworking space easily seats 15 people.
- Elvina seems quick to make friends, and extremely comfortable in her workplace. It is also her home: she and Kera live there and frequently crash on the sofas if they’re sold out. “We hate turning away guests.”
- Great onboarding email with all relevant info: how to enter from the street, key codes, etc.
- My bed was ready for me and made with military precision- tight folds, crisp sheets, and a rolled towel at the foot.
- Little Tokyo was a short walk away. I was rewarded with delicious food options.
Things I Didn’t Like
- Unclear check-in procedure. When you enter the space, I didn’t see signage or a desk instructing me what to do. I awkwardly wandered around for a few minutes before hearing noises upstairs and found the owners.
- No privacy in the bunks. Because of the community focus, there are no curtains on the bunks to block out light at night. I found this annoying, but an eye mask is an easy fix.
- It was loud. The street-level residence has large windows which open to the streets of downtown LA. Open windows for fresh air also means lots of noise. The night I stayed, there was a live band playing across the street until 11pm, early morning yelling from passersby, and frequent cars and rumbling trucks. The noise at night is the main reason I wouldn’t return. If you’re reading this and on the fence about visiting, I still recommend checking it out and staying a night. Maybe that won’t bother you. I’m thankful that my budget affords me the ability to pick a hotel which would be quieter.
Is it a hostel? Or a hotel? Or what?
PodShare is NOT marketed as a hostel. They call it “Membership Based Co-living.” I’m sure that the owners hate that I titled this post “Podshare Hostel.” During my visit, Elvina told me, “We’re not a hostel. A hostel has dozens or hundreds of rooms. They have bunk beds and single bedrooms. This is a community, and you can access our network of locations in the city.”
But after thinking about it and spending one night there, it certainly felt to me more like a hostel. Shared living, shared kitchen, nightly rentals. I feel that PodShare would be best classified as a boutique hostel.
- Bootstrapped thus far, but they recently took an investor, or investors.
- Built with care by the owners: the construction for the pods felt nice and solid.
- Owners repeatedly referred to the pods as furniture, not as structural elements of the space. That seems odd: I can’t imagine ever moving them. Another zoning thing, I’d guess.
- WeWork is now getting into the co-living space. In comparison, PodShare feels more like a small community movement than a world-changing, venture-funded mega-business.
- Run the numbers: Assume $40pp and a 100% occupancy rate for 16 single beds in the DTLA location. (They also have a few queens, but this is a rough estimate.) That’s a maximum of $233,600 per year from their primary location. After the cost of the lease (maybe $50k/yr?), insurance, cleaning, supplies, etc — this is a low-margin boutique operation. I like it, I love it, and it reminds me a lot of the Museum Hack numbers.
- MASSIVE RESPECT to Elvina and Kera. Running a place like this can’t be easy. I wish we had more people like them doing similar things to look at new ways of thinking about housing and rentals.
- Elvina seemed super-passionate about the fact that previously, the entire space was occupied by 1 person for 15 years. Now it is a shared space for 16 people. Better utilized for affordable housing.
Entertainment area with a Nintendo Wii and TV screen, also some DVDs and books
Sink area outside of bathroom, including toiletries for common use
1 of the 2 shared toilets in Podshare LA. The doors were flimsy and didn’t feel very private.
Shower area, there were 2 of these.
They built the shower interior from corrugated aluminum, intended for outdoor use but waterproof and perfectly suitable for the space. I liked it.
Want to borrow a bike? It’s free!
Chalk writing on a common wall in the kitchen of Podshare in LA
This is the building that houses Podshare in Downtown LA in the Arts District
Free Wifi Internet speed test
Originally published at nickgray.net on May 19, 2016.