Journey’s Perch: Converted church now home for weary travellers

After a local church closed down and went up for sale, the new owners transformed the building into Journey's Perch, a new guesthouse in the Arrow Heights neighbourhood.

Journey’s Perch features an eclectic interior with hints of traditional and natural decor.

This article first appeared in print in the October/November issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

Rick Nybakken travelled Europe, Asia, and the Americas before realizing that the people you come across while drifting are the true superstars of any destination. He wanted to take the people aspect of his travels and turn it into a career, a feat not easily achieved. Luckily, the incredible hosts he met along the way helped him recognize that he had the same knack for hospitality as they did.

Nybakken bought what is now Journey’s Perch Guesthouse back in 2016. The lodging is located just above the hill past the Illecillewaet Bridge. It took over a year of renovating before it opened officially in October of last year. The space had previously been used as a Presbyterian church, giving it an incredibly inimitable allure — but that’s just one small part of what’s inimitable about the guesthouse.

Journey’s Perch is located in the Arrow Heights neighbourhood in the former Lutheran church.

“We think of the Perch as a hybrid,” says the host. “We treat it like a guesthouse but we do have dorm beds.” Indeed, the prices are slightly higher than your typical hostel (dorm rooms are $50 and private rooms $135). As well, the average age of guests varies dramatically. Plus, in lieu of cramming dorm beds everywhere, the space remains open with plenty of communal lounging and eating areas. This dynamic blend creates an incredibly unique experience, one that is certainly unprecedented in Revelstoke.

The Chamber of Commerce lists 68 properties under its accommodation section. Most are guesthouses, bed & breakfasts, and inns. One is a hostel. Both categories are notably distinct, and the Perch is somewhere along the lines of both lodging styles. That’s because Nybakken picked all the basic things that had made his various stays great over the years. Comfortable beds, plug-ins for the dorm beds, and welcoming common spaces are among these characteristics.

Journey’s Perch guests often comment on the fact that they’ve never stayed in a shared accommodation before, but that the website’s photos had intrigued them. With dorm rooms, mutual lounge spaces, and shared bathrooms, community is at the forefront of the Perch’s values. In fact, Nybakken says the Perch came about because of a collective desire between himself and various friends to recreate the same unique experience of community they encountered when they first moved here.

Journey’s Perch features an eclectic interior with hints of traditional and natural decor.

When first making the move to Revelstoke from Edmonton (for the town’s glorious winters, of course), he fell in love with the community, the town, and the attitude of the townspeople. His goal is to make his guests feel that way, too. This much is made obvious when stepping foot on the premises. Nybakken has two employees, Vie Fisette and Hannah Vesterback, to whom he attributes much of the Perch’s success. Guests are treated as friends and the ultra-Canadian, naturally lit common areas seem to be just another part of the mountains. “I think it’s what people want to see when they come to Canada,” he explains. “I made sure to incorporate some of Revelstoke here.” Much of the art is sourced locally and multiple nature-inspired DIY features are made visible.

The restored church, perched atop the steep hill that comes just after the Illecillewaet River crossing, has kept some of the building’s original features. The dramatic exterior, stained glass windows, and wide-open spaces formerly used to seat churchgoers remain. But Nybakken has made a point of completely revamping the structure, making it one of the warmest accommodations imaginable. A resting point for everyone’s journey, as the Perch’s warm host so eloquently puts it.

While accommodations will always be a key player in our town’s landscape, the Perch has found a way to stand out. A beautiful, high-end pit spot with the communal, hostel-esque spirit its host fell in love with over his travels.