Affordable lodging ... in Ashland

There's a cheap place to stay in Ashland. It starts at $25 a night or $15 if you're in a group &

and the rooms come with kitchens and look like motel rooms, but with a lot of bunkbeds in them.

The little-known Ashland Commons, operating since 2001, orients itself to school groups during the Oregon Shakespeare Festival &

and also to students at the adjacent United Bicycle Institute, who come to town for classes lasting several weeks.

In winter, the Commons caters to those visiting on the cheap or people in transition, those who need a place for a week or two. The long-term lodging starts at $500 a month.

It's also popular with visitors for weddings and family reunions, says owner Linda Joseph, who runs it with her husband, Rob. They are former owners of the Mouse Trap Bed and Breakfast in Ashland.

"It's like any good guest house. It's a great place to meet people and I like to keep the money local," says Dan Shaw, who's transitioning to Seattle from living in Ashland.

On Williamson Way off Hersey Street, the Commons looks like a motel or apartment building, but offers spectacular views and common areas with a kitchen and a space for television, board games and chatting.

Its rates are comparable to Ashland Hostel on North Main Street, but half to a tenth of the cost of rooms on Ashland's main avenues. However, guests are expected to clean up after themselves, do their dishes, put their linen away, respect the space and quietness needs of fellow guests and pay $4 for bedding and towels. You can save money by bringing your own sleeping bag.

"The feedback we get is it's really comfy, they feel good here, love the views and some say they want to live here," says Joseph, pointing to a comment in her guest book from a Pocatello, Idaho, resident.

Another comment, from Russ Bagley of Reno, says, "It's beautiful. I enjoy the wonder of Ashland." Shannon Wasson of the da Vinci Arts Middle School of Portland wrote, "Thank you so much for the convenience, cleanliness, hospitality and THE VIEW. What an immense treat!"

In town for three weeks, Lonn Bailey of Memphis, Tenn., rents a solo room for $37 a night, but shares a common area with four other men. They all keep their own groceries separate in the same fridge, cook their own separate meals and, respectfully and harmoniously, do their own thing, he says.

"This is my first choice of a place to stay if I come back here for advanced classes," says Bailey. "I could live here. It's like walking into a nice house. I've not heard a bad word about it."

The Commons has a lot of advancing booking for summer months and makes it easiest on groups, says Joseph, charging $150 a room for one or two guests, but only $15 each for — to 45 people. The setup is good, Joseph says, for retreats, reunions, weddings, church groups, sports and debate teams and theater groups.

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