Former dentist office in Medina turned into hostel, catering to cyclists
MEDINA – For a girl who hails from Washington, D.C. and spent the last 10 years living in Roanoke, Va., relocating to the quaint village of Medina is quite a leap of faith.
But that is just what Chloe Palov has done.
“In the spring of 2017, I wanted a change,” she said. “I wanted to go somewhere new. I got out the atlas and literally just put my finger on a spot.”
In 2015, Andrew Meier was looking to pick up a new property and the former dentist office of Dr. William Bellavia and later Dr. Peter Igoe was near his building on West Center Street. The upstairs had already been converted into two apartments, and Meier felt because the downstairs had been outfitted for a dentist’s office, with many small rooms, finding a suitable commercial tenant might be a challenge.
It was at that time Palov came to town and reserved a room upstairs.
“I was only going to stay a few weeks, but I fell in love with the place,” Palov said. “The charming village, the canal, the shops. It was like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. After I had stayed several months, I moved downstairs in the home. Then I asked Andrew why he didn’t turn the whole downstairs into a hostel. Andrew was not familiar with a hostel, but I had traveled all over the world and stayed in hostels.”
She suggested the small rooms would be perfect for bunks.
On Dec. 31 of 2017, Palov had to go back home to take care of some family business and while she was there she decided to take a job driving tractor trailer cross country. She had already made the commitment to go to truck driving school when she got a text from Meier in February 2019.
“I’m getting ready to open the hostel,” Meier told Palov. “Can I convince you to come back to Medina and run it?”
“I’d already had enough of over-the-road driving and I had taken a job driving city bus in Roanoke,” Palov said. “By the end of July, I returned to Medina. It was a 10-hour drive and I arrived on Aug. 1 with my cats. When Andrew brought me into this house and showed me what he had done, it absolutely bowled me over. He took my little idea and expanded it. What a huge transformation it was.”
“Through the lens of a hostel, the small rooms made perfect sense,” Meier said.
Palov has now lived in every space in the house.
“When I greet guests who arrive, I feel like I’m welcoming them into my home,” she said. “This is where I want to put down my roots.”
Unlike a hotel, Palov explained a hostel is a facility where guests share amenities, such as a kitchen, bath and living area. Palov provides cereal, coffee and fruit and guests are free to bring in any other food they want to cook. There is also a laundry for their use.
“I’ve stayed in many hostels, and you meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life,” she said. “When you stay in a hotel, the only people you ever meet are those in the elevator.”
Meier said Palov provides what people want in a hostel and don’t often get.
“She’s a wonderful addition to the community,” he said.
The Bunkhaus provides a good night’s sleep, and it’s “wallet friendly,” Palov said.
She explained hostels started in Europe.
The Bunkhaus hopes to cater to people who ride the Erie Canal and give them a comfortable and affordable place to stay.
One of the first guests to stay at the Bunkhaus was a rocket scientist from John Hopkins.
Meier and Palov hope the Bunkhaus will be attractive to the many bikers who come through Medina while riding the towpath. The former waiting room for the dentist’s office is now space where bikers can safely leave their bikes for the night.
Guests are asked to strip their beds in the morning and put the dirty laundry in the hamper.
Meier is planning to add one more room which will accommodate a queen-size bed. In the spring, he also plans to put in a patio with a privacy fence.
“We hope people will see us as part of the revitalization of Medina,” Palov said. “I sensed the resurgence two years ago when I was here, and I want to be part of that.”
Palov is also a published author in 11 languages. She writes thrillers under the name C.M. Palov.
Palov is happy to give anyone a tour of the Bunkhaus. She can be reached at (585) 735-6031. They also have a Facebook page and a website at www.bunkhausmedina.com.