I've stayed there before and I didn't have a problem with the smell, but this time I read a comment from someone complaining about it--and they were right! The smell in the stairwell is disgusting and I wish they would do something about it because, overall, it is a good, convenient place to stay and the food is very good.
This was the most welcoming and friendliest place in China where I've stayed. My friend and I were treated to a nice tea ceremony upon entering. I'm sure it helped that my friend is a native Chinese speaker, but the staff members also spoke to me in confident English. The location is excellent--right across from the beach--and in an area with lots of restaurants. The room was bright and very comfortable. I was truly delighted with my stay here!
The main reason to stay here its location in between the lively areas of Nanjing Road and the Bund (walking distance for both places). But there's a big difference between a "hostel" like this, which is simply a cheap hotel with some dorm rooms and those who are affiliated with the International Youth Hostel system (IYH), which really give you a hostel experience: communal rooms for hanging out, dining facilities, and activities.
A central location with a very modern design and furnishings. The check-in is located in the same place as the restaurant, cafe, bar, pool table area, so there is strong communal feeling to the hostel that represents the best of the spirit of hosteling. I would easily stay here again.
Believe the good things people have written about this place! Although the outside street is as urban as can be, once you pass through the gates, you are in a nice woodsy refuge. The staff--at reception, the travel center, and the bar/restaurant--are extremely helpful and speak excellent English. There are plenty of activities offered both in the hostel itself and trips to surrounding areas can easily be arranged here. There's plenty of DVDs if you don't feel like going out.
The Lonely Planet is definitely right about the touts right outside the hostel. They are the most relentless I've encountered in Asia. It is such a shame because the staff at this hostel are excellent. They are extremely helpful, friendly, and speak wonderful English. But I would be reluctant to stay anywhere on this or the surrounding streets again due to the aggressiveness of the touts. I don't know what the hostel can do about this situation, but they should know it hurts their business.