Having stayed in the Duo Hostel in Los Angeles I was somewhat hoping for the same atmosphere. In LA I was warmly greeted by a young guy saying "Welcome Home" which was lovely.
Upon finding the hostel I rang the bell and waited, and waited and then finally got in when someone else exited. I walked in and was greeted by a room of foot wear, a lingering odour and a reception similar to that of a doctors clinic, it had a glass screen shielding the RA from the public until the laws of the land had been laid out. (I heard them be called an RA repeatedly - basically the staff. The only meaning for RA I could think of was 'Residential Assistant'.)
The welcome at Duo Washington was somewhat different. The RA was robotic in their delivery of the welcoming which never contained the warm sentiment heard in LA. The rules are similar in both hostels but in LA they had them listed on the wall and asked you to read them, then jokingly asked what is number whatever rule. This was a nice way to introduce the rules rather than the plastic covered sheet slipped out from under the glass division.
I passed the first hurdle and was allowed through the second door, after removing my foot wear. Once through I then had to electronic sign to agree with the rules and enter my passport number.
A short whistle stop tour of the first floor was all that was delivered, it included the obvious tv room which you enter, the linen closet for dirty towels and bedding, the bathroom, patio area and a luggage storage area which was just the common area where the RA sits. Also in this area was a water fountain that provided cold filtered water, occasionally. Throughout the day it (the water fountain) would just cease working for no apparent reason. It was more frustrating at night as you wanted a drink for the side of your bed.
Anyway as I couldn't check in for four more hours I had time to kill. As my fight had me up at 3am I thought I would lounge around, during this time I met the manager. I think his name was Mark possibly.
He laid on the sofa and began chatting about my trip and his hostel. He said that he lives there and that's why it's so good. During my stay I heard him at his best. He questioned me about Duo LA and I admitted it wasn't that clean but the atmosphere was nice. He then began referring to us (anyone staying there) as kids, "you kids will like this bar, you kids should do this, these kids done this". I found it somewhat frustrating being referred to as a kid, he then began telling me about party hostels and how his isn't one of these. IT DEFINITELY WAS NOT A PARTY HOSTEL.
He told me about these Aussie kids that went out and got drunk during the summer and one had to be carried in. Anyway he went on to tell me that they made him sleep on the patio as it was a $250 automatic fine if he threw up in his bed. Firstly he said he didn't want people "puking" in his beds and this is understandable, it's neither pleasant for other guests in the room or for the staff but should the person want to sleep in a bed they paid for and then pay any penalty incurred then let them. I do not think that it's fair to play father to person who is old enough to drink in the USA (21) and tell them they can't sleep in their bed. The manager said that there was puke on the patio the next morning. If I had woke up in the middle of the night outside then I probably would of threw up there too rather than go in side. He also said he questions people over 30 staying in hostels and we had a 65+ guy in our dorm who took great interest in thr females in our dorm, or so his intently watching of them whilst they bend over would suggest. Anyway enough on that subject and back to the hostel and my experience.
I waited and waited for check in and noticed people coming in and been shown around and to their room and I was still waiting, eventually I asked and was shown to my room. It was a large space that was cramped by filing cabinets that were to be used as lockers. I thought it was a clever idea however the quantity of them out weighed the requirement and taking up valuable space that could be used for people's larger bags. The mattress on my bed was very uncomfortable and the pillow was paper thin therefore I swapped them both with ones from free beds. You may ask why not just move beds, there was a few bottom bunks free, however the RA's do room checks throughout the night, yes room checks, they come in with a torch or when the lights are on and make sure the beds that have been assigned are being used and the free beds are not taken up. This meant that we people who often get top bunks can't move to a lower bunk without consent. If you book as a group then you can swap amongst yourself but that's it. Also the manager dislikes group bookings from what I overheard so that'll set you off on a bad footing with him.
My linen on my bed was bleach stained and marked, it smelled clean but was just tired looking. The room was fine except for the timer for the lights. They would regularly go off and you had to clamber from your bunk and go and switch them on again. It was a good idea for bathrooms but in bedrooms - no. Simply because they are there, I imagine to save energy, however it had a different effect. People would turn the light timer fully and then leave not switching off the lights for fear of breaking them I would think. Therefore it wasn't practical as most people know to turn off lights when leaving a room.
Now for the rest of the hostel. It was very clean in my opinion, one of the cleanest I have visited. I would highlight that occasionally under the beds should be vacuumed as I can 100% testify that after retrieving a coat from under there it was dusty. The beds are also in need of some care, bolts tightening and oiled as they are very squeaky.
The kitchen was located on the top floor with two free to use computers. The kitchen had most things you would need and I didn't encounter a moment where I thought they needed something. Also on this floor was a washroom with a shower that was out of order but I think that was to contain any washing to the first floor. A roof terrace was also on the top floor but you couldn't smoke there. I think this was silly as it meant going all the way down to smoke. I only seen one person ever out there as it was winter.
Second floor I didn't explore expect to see if there was another washroom from the looks of it.
Now over all, I didn't get the tour in seen others subject to. I say subject to as it was painful to watch people being led, basically by the hand around the hostel. As a seasoned hosteller I would have not wanted the tour anyway. The check in process is one of the longest I have ever encountered (maybe the longest actually) a friend and I watched and laughed about how robotic the delivery was to the newcomers. All in all the check in lasts about 20mins including rules, signing and tour. Totally unneeded. A quick kitchen and computer on the top floor (no smoking on that roof terrace) rooms and a single washroom on second floor, first floor is common tv area with lockers, dirty linen closet, iron, sign-able map and showers along with a patio (the only place you can smoke) and finally we have no laundry there is one on the corner of the street.
The rules..... My word, they are everywhere. I think a tree has been cut down to supply them. They ranged from no illegal drugs, noise, cleaning, blocking toilets, washing dishes, sleeping in assigned bed, check out procedures, alcohol rules 10pm sharp cut off for alcohol (sharp means literally on the dot). Be warned that if you break these rules it says they will charge you, and I don't think that the manager would have a second thought slamming you with a nights rent for not washing dishes. In my opinion he (manager) is a strange character, I over heard him talk about the owner and his lack of care or similar to the businesses in DC and LA. Worse of all when a large group of seven arrived to be checked in he said "if there is any trouble let me know, it would make my day, make my day". Now he will probably read this and refute this but I swear under oath on this. He also admitted to not having done hostels himself.
In conclusion, the hostel is very clean and I appreciated this, staff work hard but are almost robotic in delivery as they say the same thing daily and I don't think they are allowed to move from the set delivery. Breakfast is basic but does the job. Sunday it's a free dinner and it was a good meal with lots available.
Showers are good but can run out of hot water at 9am which happened me, they need a commercial water heater as for the price it shouldn't happen every day. There is a lack of actual toilets, possibly only four for guys and the same for girls. The shoes policy is strange but it keeps carpets clean as does the plastic covered sections to walk on, which might need a wipe with a damp cloth to sanitise occasionally. The hostel had lockers which were clever but had too many in the basement room. The security was good though I suspect the entry codes have not been changed in a while as the numbers buttons are wore that are used for entry. As for the manager, and this is not a personal thing, I think it's bad that he lives in as he see it as his home (which he will admit) and therefore he wants his rules followed to the letter. I think the alcohol policy is a little strict and maybe should be extended to 11pm providing noise levels are not excessive. I personally wasn't keen on the hostel as I often felt like I was staying I'm someone's house and was worried I would annoy them. I didn't feel comfortable relaxing there unlike LA. Now it's clean which is great and it is in a good location but there is very little atmosphere as it's so strict. Final note, lots of stairs so not suitable for anyone that doesn't work well with stays.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.