Our Visit to Hostel Cat and Pawn Stars - Las Vegas
As you know, I'm a huge fan of hostels. My son is a huge fan of Pawn Stars. As luck would have it, on my recent business trip to Las Vegas we discovered Hostel Cat - Las Vegas is located very near Gold & Silver Pawn Shop - the real Pawn Stars Store. So we decided to make a family pilgrimage to both of these Las Vegas icons.
For those of you who don't know about Pawn Stars, let me explain. It's an American reality television series on the History Channel that features the lives of four men who run the now famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop located at 713 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas, Nevada. It's a real pawn shop among the many that exist in Las Vegas (I wonder why that is?) and it's run by Richard Harrison, his son Rick Harrison, Rick's son Corey and Corey's friend, Austin Russell who is know affectionately as "Chumlee". The show became the History Channel's second highest rated show when it first aired. Now the channel still features popular reruns. The actual store still attracts more than it's fair share of customers who want to see where the Pawn Stars show was filmed.
Pawn Stars is more down-to-earth version of Antiques Roadshow with common everyday people visiting the store to see what their family treasures are worth. Most pawn shops I have been to sell nothing special, but this one seems to specialize in rare antiques and artifacts. The store owners are presumably exceptionally knowledgable about a wide range of historical items which perhaps is it's appeal. Just about everyone has something trinket that their grandparents said would be valuable someday. If you want to find out for sure, this seems to be the place to go in Las Vegas if you are thinking of selling it. The rear of the store seems to be dedicated to selling swag related to the show. However, there were a few noteworthy items in the back.
Survivor Torch For Sale
First a confession. So....uh....I'm slightly embarrassed to say my family and I have a slight Survivor addiction. However, this addiction is of course a distance second to our Amazing Race addiction which is at least travel related. Really, this is the only two television shows I routinely watch! Anyway, it was pretty cool to see the Survivor tribal council torch show above. It was really much taller than I expected at nearly six feet tall.
How to Turn $2 Dollars Into $50 Dollars
One thing I was amazed with in the Pawn Stars store was merchandise that really wasn't valuable at all. That is until the Pawn Stars show came into existence. For example, witness the ordinary $2 bill above. Any other $2 bill would be worth about....umm...$2. But produce a top rated show on a major television network, add some signatures and the bill is now worth $50. I'll bet once they sell this one, they will autograph another and put it up for sale as well. Hey big Hollywood television producers! I know a great hostel in San Francisco you could do a reality show about. Lot's of interesting people here.
The Crown Jewels - Sports Gold
Toward the front of the store is where they keep the more expensive items. There were big crowds around the glass cases holding various jewelry and, of course, gold and silver coins. But the items most people wanted to see were olympic sports medals and a fine collection of Super Bowl rings. Olympic medals for sale? Nope, these apparently were just for show.
However, Super Bowl for sale? You bet. Just $100,000 each! Collectors of sport memorabilia love this stuff, but personally I think it's a bit sad that a world class athletes presumably had to sell their trophies at a pawn shop in Las Vegas.
The Grand Finale - A Cool Las Vegas Hostel
For me, Pawn Stars was the prelude to what I really came to see in Las Vegas.... Hostel Cat. Hostel Cat is currently the top rated hostel in Las Vegas and this has a lot to do with the owner of this hostel. He told be he prefers to be anonymous so he can easily mingle with the guests but when he showed me around the hostel and explained his future plans, it's clear he is the driving force that makes this hostel cool. He has an infectious personality and is passionate about showing guest the real underground Las Vegas seen. Seriously, he said he enjoys taking guests on secret tours to hidden places only the savvy locals know about in Vegas. I don't know if I can tell you the destinations in a public blog post, but I was definitely intrigued and can't wait to go back to go on these private tours he talked about.
A Hostel Beer Garden
At the heart of the hostel is a central beer garden with cottage-style dorms around the perimeter. The cottages are adorned with various cartoon style murals on the outside. It was a bit cold when we were there but it's clear this central courtyard would be the social hub of the hostel during the Summer. The Hostel Cat owner has big plans for this area. Backpackers in the future will enjoy an oasis in the middle of Las Vegas complete with lush landscaping, ping pong (which doubles as beer pong) and vollyball. I think I even heard talk of a pool. Nice!
Las Vegas Dorm Rooms
Each of the cottages contain the hostel dorm rooms or, in some cases, private rooms. Since they are not attached to the neighboring cottage dorm, I assume you get zero noise from other rooms. Each dorm has an excellent choice of Ikea Tromso metal bunkbeds. I'm a big fan of metal bunkbeds rather than wood in hostel dorms. If you are curious about this, just ask me offline. Each cottage has it's own bathroom and more lockers than beds so there should be no shortage of storage space.
Free Internet, Free Kitchen and Coin Laundry
The front building of the hostel had all the remaining amenities you expect from a good hostel. But remember, this is Las Vegas. How many high end hotels offer free wi-fi, washers and dryers where you can wash your own clothes, and a community kitchen where you can cook your own meals. Many backpackers are led astray by the lure of cheap hotel rooms in Las Vegas, but only hostels offer the sorts of amenities true budget travelers need at a low cost and frequently for free! Not to mention, the awesome community and camraderie of like minded travelers. If you go to Las Vegas, don't stay in a hotel - stay in a fun hostel like Hostel Cat! Oh yeah, tell them Darren sent you and they will smile at you and say "Oh yeah, that guy. I know him." What? Did you think reading my poorly written article would earn you a discount? :-)