I stayed here for four nights before beginning my Acacia tour of Africa, from Johannesburg through to Nairobi. The tour only departed from Johannesburg, it didn't visit the city itself, so if you wanted to explore Johannesburg, you had to book extra days there yourself. The Ritz was an easy choice for me, as it was where our tour departed from, and where our meeting was held on the night before starting, but it was something I wouldn't have regretted anyway. The Backpackers Ritz is basic and simple, but, as other reviewers pointed out, it has everything you need, and I didn't find it dirty or uncomfortable at all. The dorms sounded like they should be crowded, with twelve beds (ie six sets of bunkbeds) but as they were arranged all facing different ways, it gave the feeling of having a lot of space, and they were pretty big dorms anyway, so you don't feel crowded at all. There was a table for guests to use right onfront of the reception desk, with leaflets about different hostels and different things you could do in Jo'burg, and a common room in between reception and the dorms, with a TV and computers (I didn't use them myself, but the Internet wasn't supposed to be very fast!) The staff seemed friendly most of the time, some more serious than others, but overall a friendly feel off the place and its workers, and I had no problems with any of them. One guy in particular, Gavin, was friendly and helpful, and gave me good advice, and the kitchen and cleaning staff were friendly too. Nothing was too much trouble, and they said it was fine about me taking a cup of tea every night, as long as I paid them the next morning, so it was good of them to trust a guest like that! They did my laundry too and it was done very well, so I was happy with that service. I noticed another reviewer said the cleaning lady was noisy- well in my experience, if it was the same person, she was too quiet! You'd wake early in the morning to see her creeping around the room, with no sign that she was there, and often it would make me jump, having had no warning! But I couldn't complain about the way she cleaned the hostel!
The toilets and showers, obviously, were shared, but they all seemed clean whenever I used them, and no problems with either of those. The dorms were basic and plain but clean and comfortable, which was all I wanted, but the only thing I hated was that they were so cold! It was winter in South Africa when I was there (June) and it was FREEZING in the dorm at night! I can understand they can't control the weather, but they must have had no form of heating, apart from one plug-in heater which no one knew was there til the next day, and could only warm one section of the dorm. There's nothing they can do about the cold, but just be warned if you're going there in winter!
The gardens in that place really are amazing- they seemed to stretch on for ages, with hidden places behind bushes and trees, and different places to sit. There was also a tiny little bar down at the end, but I never went there, and never saw anyone else who did either. The hostel felt very safe, with a double-gated entrance at the front (you had to press the buzzer to let them know you were there), and a long street full of big houses behind locked gates. It felt very secure, but sometimes you felt very secluded and far away from everyone, especially if you wanted to mix, and feel part of the neighbourhood. There was also a smaller entrance out the back, behind the gardens and down some steps, which I didn't even know was there until the morning my tour began! There are two different groups of small shops up the road from the Ritz, in easy walking distance, and Hyde Park shopping centre is just a bit further away, about 10 or 15 minutes walk, so everything is conveniently near. The front desk arranges taxis and tours for you, for wherever you want to go- I got my tours of Lion Park, Soweto, and several other places arranged here, with no trouble at all. I also got talking to loads of different people here, who weren't even on my tour- I know that's just my experience, but it just seemed a very social place, with the dorms and the common room, and everyone I met seemed willing to mix. It would have felt very lonely staying in a hotel!
Overall, if you're looking for luxury and privacy, this isn't the kind of Ritz you're looking for. But if you want somewhere basic but clean and comfortable, near to so many convenient places and good for social reasons as well- which was exactly what I wanted- the Backpacker's Ritz is the ideal choice. Everything worked out fine on my stay there.
There's not much choice really- there's just a couple of dorms, either male, female, or mixe...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.