As a traveler who has stayed in more hostels than i can remember, this one sticks out as being THE WORST PLACE I HAVE EVER STAYED!!!
This as you can see from the running theme of the reviews is due to the owners. The hostel itself is actually OK, rooms are fine, showers/toilets are fine, large outside communal area, large kitchen/communal area and a TV room, the only thing missing is a lounge area (the outside benches serve for this, but not an option in winter) - all of this i based on backpacker standards.
The story behind me going to the Lemontree is the same as many people who end up there... ran low on money mid travels, and being that this is a working hostel my friend and i went to stay there for work.
When you first arrive at the Lemontree you are expected to pay rent on a weekly basis, so first week being the day you arrive. On top of that you also are expected to give credit card details and pay a key deposit, this is not for a key to your room (the only lock is a keypad on the front door) but for a cupboard with individual cutlery plates etc. This is not for any reason other than keeping tabs on what is broke/lost and by who so they can charge for it.
The work i ended up with was vineyard work that i got myself not through the hostel and my friend was working nights in a wine factory, packaging the bottles. This was lucky as there was not a lot of work going round this hostel, during a 8 - 9 week stay here we witnessed a lot of travelers come and go without doing any work.
Everything seemed OK to begin with despite the bad reviews we had seen online, and quite a few locals had stories from previous backpackers having a bad time there, again mostly due to the owners.
They do not allow visitors into the hostel. An example of this is when a friend of ours drove over for the day from Nelson and wasn't allowed in.
Our time at the Lemontree ended abruptly, when we were asked to leave this came after a disagreement with the owners, some people may see this as my friends and i being in the wrong, and i'm not saying we were not at fault. One weekend when we had friends we had met there we went out for drinks and continued drinking when we got back. The owner Karen came out and asked us to turn the music off, i did so but she wanted to take my speakers away from me... which i straight up refused to allow, they were turned off at this point and were staying off.
Now even though there was a number of us still up and drinking at this point the blame seemed to land on my friend and i, but we feel we did the right thing the next morning which was to go and apologize. Karen accepted this, how-ever the other owner Andrew felt it more appropriate to threaten us in a few ways one being to break my speakers (property damage) and another was to take a BASEBALL BAT to us (grievous bodily harm), tongues were bit here as we didn't want to leave the hostel due to the high number of friend we had made living there.
So as far as we knew everything was OK, come rent day we paid our money for another weeks stay the the next day we are asked to leave! I made sure i left with a refund, but my friend was not so lucky he never revived a refund, this was due to drunken failure of bladder control one night... it happens, and i'm sure being that it is a hostel mattress which has served for 10+ years it has seen worse. They wanted to charge him $140 for this, but he took it upon himself to have it jet washed and dried. It was fine no stain, smell or anything.
Overall some of the best times i had in NZ were in Blenheim whilst staying here but i cannot stress enough that this was NOTHING to do with the Lemontree and everything to do with the amazing people i met there!
This is just my experience of the hostel, there are many more bad experiences i know of, many of which happened during my time there, but isn't my place to recap! I do not mean this review as any type of slander or maliciousness towards the hostel or owners but just a honest recap of my time spent in the Lemontree.
I'm sure from reading this review the owners can work out who has wrote it, to which all i have to say is that if you hate backpackers and love money that much... SELL YOUR BUSINESS!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Under new management from 2013 ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Lemontree Backpackers Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand