I stayed in a hotel for three days avoiding this hostel thanks to the reviews I read, but then I took the risk and realized that I should have just stayed in this hostel the whole time I was in DC. To find a hostel with clean, hot showers with towels provided is a miracle find. Most hostels never have hot water and usually have a 30 second timed shower that you have to keep pushing the button to restart. If you are an American who has never stayed in a hostel before, then you should be aware that most American hostels are not nearly as nice as this one. Then again, it's not a hotel. If you are the type of person who can drop a sandwich on your own kitchen floor and pick it up and eat it, this is the place for you. If that idea disgusts you, you will probably bankrupt yourself staying in five star hotels because you can't handle anything that doesn't suit standards at par with those of the Virgin Mary herself. If you are from Europe, Asia or anywhere else for that matter, this is the cleanest hostel you will find in DC, NYC, San Francisco, Los Angeles.
For any hostel, you should pack ear plugs and an eye mask. People check in late and unzip their bags early in the mornings. There is a common area with cable tv, internet, as well as a kitchen where you can cook, drink beer, and hang out. I'm sure many will complain about the list of rules you have to read, but considering how many different people from around the world stay here, it makes sense that they have to explain TO EVERYONE a few specific rules. DC has people from all over the world living there and driving cars for the first time, for instance, which makes driving in the city horrible. So with such diverse clientele staying here, it's necessary they explain rules to everyone. People from Mexico City, for example, don't flush their toilet paper. The put it in their garbage can. In America, you ONLY flush toilet paper. Don't fault the hostel for pointing this out. It saves them repairs when someone would be tempted to flush their Depends.
The staff are friendly, and I think most complaints about the neighborhood originate from critics who are afraid of black people. Get over it. It's not a black neighborhood. There are just lots of blacks in DC. Slaves settled in DC after the Civil War and made their livings there. Most blacks in DC make more money than most of the people who stay at this hostel ever will, so throw away your American stereotypes of the inner-city black man and walk around like you belong there too. They don't bite. They don't even think about you.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.