Your first impressions of Bright Hostels is unlikely to be the best, largely because a curiously vague sign (or lack thereof) announces it simply as 'Hostel'. Also, if, like us, you had booked in a rush, you too might be wondering just how big a mug your taxi driver thought you were bringing you to an anonymous building in a dodgy area of town well clear of the the San Blas destination you expected.
In fairness, the hostel actually describes itself as 'next to the San Blas area', and phrases like 'next to', 'near the' or 'within a stones throw of' are broadly subjective. This stone would need to be hurled out of Davids sling, and though the 15-20 minute walk is a fairly pleasant one on the way down hill to the Plaza De Armas in broad daylight, I wouldn't attempt it at night. Still, taxi rides anywhere in the city are just 2.5 Soles (except late night) and not since the 'I wouldn't mind a coke' stampede created by a traveling companion's mussing to a group of hawkers in Cambodia have I seen quite so much competition for business, so no shortage of rides.
Inside, the lady who greeted us was very pleasant and made us tea. The front door opens into a communal TV area where a few fairly priced essentials, including water and snacks are available. Some traditional style Peruvian nik naks perk the place up a little. The area is open plan so it can be noisy if you are in rooms adjacent, like ours....
Anyone who has read Orwell or seen the TV show will appreciate our over baked, and completely misunderstood, eye brow raising as we were handed the keys to room 101, the room in which you are submitted to your greatest hates and fears. In fact, despite being next to the reception desk, off the main through drag and adjacent to the TV area, it was never excessively noisy, at least during our stay. A double room on the large side, it felt a little sparse, but there was a decent side board/dresser and some hanging space.
Bedside tables and lights are always welcome, and the wood floors were a comfier alternative to tile. The en suite bathroom was roomy with a large shower and hot water on demand. It looked recently fitted and was well finished. There was a TV in the room with basic cable – it was scratched up and a bit knackered, but we didn't expect one anyway. Bed was large and firm, with plenty of blankets and more on request. It gets very, very cold in Cusco, and our room could have frozen the balls off a brass monkey, day or night. Although this is par for the course, our room and 202 were on the 'dark side' of the building, which isn't to say it it had shocking revelations about my parentage, rather it never got the daytime sun which might have warmed it up a little.
Everything was nicely clean, if a little scuffed and worn. Oddly they only provide one towel for double rooms. Sometimes they had another on request, sometimes not.
The kitchen is pleasant with a new fridge and cooker, but only just enough equipment to prepare basic meals. Breakfast is mysteriously late (8.00-10.30) in a city where so many activities start early, and is the standard bread and jam fare with some water melon and orange juice to tart it up.
There is a casual table and chairs set up adjoining the kitchen which is nice enough and gets the morning sun. This is home of the ambitiously named 'library' (a few dog-eared books') and the sole, and very much in demand, computer with free Internet access. Free WiFi is available in room. Near reception it was quick. Laundry is 3 Soles/kg, about the going price & takes 24 hours.
The 'Outside terraced area/ BBQ area' confidently heralded on their web site is pretty much a scrap of over grown grass in the centre of the building. There is some basic seating. It's better than nothing but could do with some attention.
The staff are friendly, and despite not speaking great English, they usually have a smile. I wouldn't have liked to quiz them on tours or ask them too much about life outside the hostel walls though.
Despite the web site claims, there is no restaurant, no bar, no live music and the mini supermarket is nothing more than any other small convenience shop found anywhere about the city fringes. Safety wise, the front door is kept locked, but I didn't trust the neighborhood and there are no restaurants to speak of within safe walking distance. Location is the biggest drawback of this hostel by far, but that's why you pay $19 instead of $25-30 I suppose. If you check my other reviews, however, you will find one for a hostel in the centre of town that is only $14, nicer, and minutes from the action.
Lastly, despite not being told and contrary to the policy of virtually every other hostel we've stayed at, check out is at 10.00 am. When we came to pay, they tried to charge us an extra night because it was 11.45. We point blank refused and they relented without much of an argument, but it's a ridiculous policy, they're hardly a airport terminal hotel. Also, we asked for them to call a taxi. The driver was a friend of the receptionist with a 'Taxi' sticker in his car window. Needless to say he turned out to be a bit of a nuisance and got us lost.
All in all, this hostel was the definition of average. Had it been in a better location it would have scrapped by as slightly better than average. I would only recommend it as a money saver when other similar alternatives in town are unavailable.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.