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Portland Maine's first hostel

  It's a family affair 

This is our story:

My name is Heather.  I spent the “first phase” of my life in New England homesteading, training young horses, and raising my two girls.  I had my children young with the intention to pick up a career when they left the nest.  I knew that I would need to find something to do that I actually really believed in and that contributed to the greater good on some level. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do in this “next phase” of my life.

It occurred to me that, over the years, something that always brought me joy and restored my faith in humanity was staying at hostels. After relocating to Portland, Maine, I realized this beautiful city did not have a hostel. I set out to change that. I had finally found my calling -

I truly do believe that hostels contribute to the greater good.  They are a melting pot of different cultures and a place to make connections with others. They inspire community and open you up to endless possibilities and inspiration…if you will allow them to. My daughter Sadie and I co-own the business - and when she is not off exploring the world - she helps me run the show!

Life is a grand adventure and it is what we make of it.  It is the folks we meet along the way that add meaning to our lives. We are happy to host you here in our fair city!


Heather Gildea - aka  - Hostel Heather

Our goal at The Black Elephant is to create an open minded and safe space with those who choose to explore the world around them and, ultimately, to inspire a global sense of community. 


Welcome to the hostel fam.

 it's a lot of fun here! 

What is a hostel anyway?

First of all, welcome. We can't wait to introduce you to the magic of hostels.


A hostel is a budget-friendly type of accommodation that focuses on a shared social experience. That's the very basic answer.

Most commonly, you will find people between the ages of 18 to 55 at a hostel but they are a place for travelers of all ages!  While you can be too young to stay with us (starting in 2023 you must be 18), you cannot be too old


Hostels are a place where it is easy to meet others. Traveling solo as a woman, I find hostels offer a safe haven and an opportunity to link up with others and go on adventures. You can’t really do that in a hotel. You pretty much get your key and go up into a little isolation chamber. If you hang out in the lobby and talk to strangers, it is usually frowned upon – “who is that crazy lady?  And why does she think it is ok to randomly strike up a conversation with me?”  Here, we encourage you to TALK TO STRANGERS!! It is how connections are made and friendships are forged!


A hostel is an interactive community and a place of diverse social exchange.  Hostels create an atmosphere that is conducive to creative and collaborative thinking. They are a place to have fun and make connections with others! 

Things you will NOT commonly find in a hostel:

Mints on your pillow, a TV or mini bar in your room, individually wrapped plastic items, a feeling of isolation

Things you WILL find in a Hostel: 
Clean sheets, hot water, Free WIFI (!!!), like-minded travelers, a communal kitchen, a sense of community & some money left in your pocket to explore the place you traveled there to see!

A group photo of hostelers hanging out at Black Elephant Hostel in Portland Maine

You're one of us now.

This is where it's at.

  location, location, location!  

We are located in the fabulous India Street Neighborhood in downtown Portland, Maine. If you're looking to be close to good food, city exploration, and in the heart of it all, OUR LOCATION CANNOT BE BEAT!


We are one block outside of Old Port and nestled among some of the finest eateries, shopping, and entertainment in Portland. We are close to all major transportation and are just a few blocks from the Casco Bay ferry terminal, where you can grab a boat to cruise the harbor and visit some of the local islands!

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Hostel Takeovers
& Group Bookings

 We are the ultimate place for groups to gather 


The Black Elephant is perfect for weddings and group stays in Portland, Maine! 

If you are looking to house a larger group for an event, wedding, or just a weekend of shenanigans with friends (18+ only), we encourage you to give us a call! We are the perfect spot for a memorable Portland bachelor / bachelorette party.  We love to book groups and curate a great vibe and beautiful space for the ultimate connection.  

If you're looking for a few rooms you can book as private rooms, without reserving the whole hostel, these ones might be for you: 

FISH SIX PRIVATE DORM - sleeps up to 6
ENTERPRISE PRIVATE DORM - sleeps up to 8 (in 4 full sized beds)

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 how to book a Hostel Takeover: 

A Hostel Takeover is a chance for you, your friends, and or your family to take over the entire hostel space just for your use. We sleep up to 60!  Depending on the season, rates vary from 2k to 5k per night for all our rooms, clean linens, our garden, and our team. You will not find a better rate to house your peeps in the city center. We are a great spot for an affordable and funky wedding weekend, or family reunion. Email or call us for more info!

Booking the whole space for weddings, school or corporate travel can be a lot of fun!

The Fine Print: 

The hostel is typically 18+, but for hostel takeovers, we make an exception! 

Only available after Labor Day and before June 15th! Think winter, spring, and fall.

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Questions about takeovers?
Let's chat!

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