Stagecoach stop reno

On the cover: Boho Dunham’s upscale hostel bedroom.

Boutique hostel rhapsodizes bohemians

BACK IN THE 19TH CENTURY, stagecoach travel meant that relay stations popped up all over North America, including Quebec. There would be a place to water, feed and rest horses, as well as accommodations for hungry, weary travelers.

One such “le relais de la diligence” (relay station) built in 1849 in Dunham, Que., has been turned into a boutique hostel by Montreal, Que.-based developer Kabin.

Located 90 km south-east of Montreal close to the U.S. border, the Boho Dunham inn attracts visitors from both countries, according to Martin Delisle, president of Kabin. “The guys are mostly coming from Montreal, or they come from Plattsburgh or Burlington, Vermont,” says Delisle.

“People in Quebec aren’t ready for the real hostel type, which we used to call a youth hostel. People are not ready to share with strangers.”

So, the boutique hostel concept was born. At the beginning, Kabin considered dorms, then decided to switch to shared rooms. With an on-premises brewery ranked in the world top 100, “we realized if you know you’re a gang of three guys coming to drink beer, they each have their own bed.” Both multi-single-bed rooms and private rooms with king-size beds are available.

Boho Dunham lounge area — before the renovation.

With the brewery and restaurant downstairs, the second floor has a couple of offices, as well as a multi-function room that is rented for such activities as yoga classes. “We renovated the lobby, but the rest was only at the third floor,” says Delisle. he works closely with his interior-designer wife, Victoria Della Porta.

“The biggest challenge was to put all the bathrooms there. There was only one small bathroom and we had to do four more and renovate the one that was already there.”

Most of the floors were not original from 1849, but from later renovations. “It was all hardwood floor except for one office that was carpet,” says Delisle. Now the carpet is gone and everything is finished with the same wood. The wood look continues to the woodwork around all of the windows and the doors.

For the bathrooms, Kabin went with Italian ceramic tiles reminiscent of Barcelona and California styles as a reminder of the castle coming from Europe.

Boho Dunham has now celebrated its first anniversary. “For the shared-room concept,” says Delisle, “it’s really important the image we show is like sharing with friends. Bachelor parties or weddings where you have all of the bridesmaids in the same room. Since the boutique hostel is getting rented more and more, Delisle wants to develop a second location.

Boho Dunham lounge area — after the renovation.

“We are very happy with the result, but it is going to take more time for people to get it. ‘What do you mean I don’t get my own bathroom; I share it with someone else?’

“But If I share it with my friends, it’s OK.”

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