I checked into the hostel after a stay in a bad one (cough, Neverland, cough) so for me, it was a good place strictly on relative terms. If I were to judge it on its own merits, I would say that it's a bargain to stay here in a private room with toilet/shower but you may do this at the expense of your hygiene. The bed was one mattress atop another, which easily invites bedbugs, and staff insisted on returning my laundry to me damp. Guys - If you can't do something right, don't do it at all.
I can corroborate four TripAdvisor pans: Staff had had not a good attitude (1) and 'had no maps, no brochures or literature of any kind with information.' (2) 'Although the hostel is not far from the main strip, it is at the bottom of the world's steepest hill. Walking up and down this with a big backpack was a nightmare.'
I enjoyed every moment of my stay at Shanti-Hostel, and that has a great deal to do with co-owner/manager Petar's hospitality. He is "the bargain shuttle service," driving guests to and from the airport with very little notice. When someone hints at being a little thirsty, he prepares juice for them using his special ingredients. If the hostel is overbooked, he gives up his own bed and sofa to people arriving without reservation and sleeps outside. The other guests and I were in awe of him.
Ultimately, I was glad I stayed here. It's just around the corner from Tirana's main commercial street, the bedrooms and bathrooms are cleaned every day if evacuated by noon and because it's run by a multigenerational Albanian family, I felt that I was getting a sense of the country's history just by hanging out by the front desk. Some suggestions for management: Construct a large common area for guests, be current on bus schedules, and don't burst into rooms unannounced - esp. not at 6 AM.
Palermo isn't exactly a popular tourist destination in Italy, but this hostel's management does a fine job of making the city seem exciting for first-time visitors. The map of the city, which I believe is A Casa di Amici's own creation, was especially fun and useful, and I appreciated the many times that the young guy at the front desk pointed me in the right direction for food and festivities. The mother of the hostel's owner was also very sweet. Dislike - Some anti-gay jokes by staff.
Fun, hospitality-oriented staff ("Who's your boss?" "Better that we not tell you who our Boss is!"), delicious breakfast (cherry and peach bowl and blueberry yogurt are my favorites), smart and hip travelers (you have to be to score a room at Hostel of the Sun), multiple common areas for all of us to socialize on the same floor (and cheap but yummy "girl" drinks at the bar), and just a short walk from the nice area of Naples. What's not to like about it? I'd return to Naples for HoTS alone.
Alessandro verges on being a party hostel, and that can be tiresome if you're planning to lodge in Rome more than two nights. That said, I met fun people here with whom I've continued to interact after I left, and I give the hostel's dorms and rooftop bar some credit for that. Only big minus - On my last day, a woman in the room reported bedbugs and management relocated me to a 6-bed dorm already occupied by five raucous teen friends. Staff responded resentfully to my change request; I'm 28.
I love the Jonathans (the owner and the staff member). They're the best reasons to stay here. The location isn't prime - you'll be hard-pressed to find an open restaurant in the area on a Sunday afternoon - and the queue for the bathroom (there is only one for all guests staying in the dorms) is a bad joke.
This is a nice hybrid of a bed & breakfast and a hostel. I stayed in a private room that consisted of bunk beds and a twin-sized bed, and enjoyed the breakfast of cheese, salami, orange and hot chocolate generally by myself or with one other person every morning. My best memory of the hostel is the Venezuelan staff member; what a gem, she directed me to a Bolognese barber who had experience cutting African-American hair and translated my instructions for him from English to Italian.
Pluses - The owner (Lydia) was very generous with her time in picking me up from the train station in her car and giving me an oral guide to the city en route to the b&b; cakes and juices at breakfast were always delicious; the view from the patio is scenic and surprisingly tropical given the mountainous location; and the Russian stud on hand always provided awesome restaurant leads. Minuses - Unbelievably cold and rushed checkout by Lydia, who can be high maintenance; Location far from action.
I was mostly fine with the accomodations here but there was no excellence in any area. The location, the rooms, the cleaning, the service - it'll all "do." Social interaction wasn't fostered at all by a common area when I arrived and the staff were very green when it came to advising on places to eat and things to do in Milan. It's the sort of hostel that leaves you without strong positive or negative feelings.
Alex and Davide are great; I hope to see them again. Davide's cooking is great and he has more than a few smart and thoughtful things to say about Venetian life, albeit in Italian translated to English. :) The mosquitoes are a problem but not specifically at this hostel; if you stay anywhere along the canal during the summer, you will almost certainly be attacked my mosquitoes!
I love the guys running the hostel; their aversion to football, their hipster t-shirts and little hipster potbellies, their hyper-awareness of the city's club and intellectual scenes... It's all very charming. The dorm rooms aren't state of the art but I was comfortable in them, and I dug the artsy vibe of the East Berlin neighborhood. I will consider staying here again the next time i'm in Berlin. Ideally, management will remember offering me a discount for my second stay then. :)
Staff member Natalia Hara is amazing. There should be more than one key per dorm room; it's absolutely ridiculous to expect guests to coordinate entry to and exit from their own rooms with staff and their roommates. But never mind - It is a perfectly fine place to stay in Helsinki and, based on my research, the best of all hostel options there by far. Thank you to Natalia for helping me recover from the flu with raspberry tea and directing me to Harju sauna! Nice hostel sauna and swim too.
The hostel is altogether an antisocial experience; it's very cold socially and in terms of temperature at night, the building with the private rooms is always dark and foreboding, and the friendly-faced staff are too clueless to help while the more ostensibly knowledgeable ones dare to question why you need help. One night, I returned to the hostel stricken with flu and needed hot water to take with my medication; the woman who let me in interrogated me about my reservation, and I vomitted.
This hostel is excellent. Anytime you have so many strangers talking and going out together night after night, you know your hostel is doing the best job possible. The organization of the common area with seats in the round, a big screen television at the front and computers in the center (so that guests cannot easily hide out on the computer) promotes a high level of social interaction. The dorms themselves are perfectly functional, the bathrooms are plentiful, and the location is central.
The staff are generally very helpful; I won't soon forget front desk management circling the locations of every restaurant and off-the-beaten track site I wanted to visit on my map or talking the unpleasant woman on the Delfi tour out of charging me more than 70 EUR. The dorm room was perfectly fine, except for air-con issues. Minuses are the rooftop bar closing at 11 PM, the barren First Aid kit and the strange habit of otherwise elegant women from Melbourne defiling all the bathrooms.