At first glance, Berlin itself seems to appear so bleak compared to other great European/German cities. Spent the first two days exploring and then I started to like it. Changed hostels and checked into Raise a Smile and then I really fell in love with Berlin. I now understand why this place is always rated #1 in hostelworld.com Their website gave accurate, detailed to the t directions on how to get to the place, complete with a YouTube video! There's no way you can possibly get lost: very assuring especially for solo travelers. Located on the 5th floor of a 6-story building in the former East Berlin section, RAS is centrally located with cafes and nearby trams/U/S-bhans. The place itself reminds me of a four-bedroom apartment in NYC complete with a balcony in the kitchen. Gray, the co-owner was very helpful with my check-in and everything else hostel-related. He pulled out a map and just marked significant spots around the neighborhood and everywhere else in Berlin.
I stayed in the 8-bed mixed dorm, the Zebra room, with the usual wooden bunk beds. I was super impressed with the quality of the bedsheets; they felt satin 600+thread count-ish. I never expect much from hostels since I'm outdoors most of the time but it was a nice surprise. What made the stay even better were the daily planned outings at night by Gray and his staff, whether to dinner/drinks, cool bars, lounges, etc. (Note: you don't HAVE to join the group at all if you don't want to or if you prefer to just be by yourself or just with your friends). I say it's awesome for solo travelers because you get to go out with the other guests in the hostel and get to know each other while having fun at the same time.
The kitchen is fully equipped should you go for a cook-for-yourself alternative. Then again Berlin is pretty cheap so going out to eat all the time won't kill too much of your budget. There is simple breakfast provided with coffee, tea, cereal, bread, butter, Nutella (mMm mMm) and jam in the morning. The deal is, YOU decide how much you want to pay for it, whether breakfast was oh-so-worth it or not at all. You decide.
The common room is pretty small but consists of comfortable, red cushions on the floor in the opposite end. I've seen some of the guests fall asleep there for hours and claim that it felt just like sleeping on their beds. There is also one laptop provided on the table so Skype or Facebook away to your hearts desire!
There are only two bath/toilet rooms in the hostel so everyone does have to act quick in the morning to get first, second, third dibs in the shower or the toilet. Same goes at night after everyone comes back from a long night of drinking.
Overall the hostel is uber uber simple and excellent and worth every penny! When I go back to Berlin, I already know where to stay!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.