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“High on my list of hostel experiences”

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HI Washington DC Hostel
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Comox, Canada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“High on my list of hostel experiences”
Reviewed September 8, 2013

I stayed here for four nights in August. Having stayed at hostels dozens of times, all around the world, I can say that this hostel was near the top of my experiences. You'll read replies from the management to other reviews, explaining how HI DC is not a party hostel. You won't find all night keggers, or stumbling drunks, or crazy music played loud all night while people do body shots...and honestly, I prefer that. There are a ton of bars in the neighbourhood, pub crawl offered on the weekend, and plenty of other friendly travelers that you can head out with to make a party happen. But when you want peace, and sleep, and sanity...its there!

I stayed on the 7th floor, which was sometimes a bit of a hike. The elevator didn't seem as bad as others have written, and I think that they've done some work on it. Either way, I usually caught the elevator going up, and then took the stairs down. I stayed in a 6 bed female dorm, which was more spacious than similar dorms that I've been in previously. I heard from another hostel-dweller that the the 8 bed dorms were about the same size, but with the extra bed they seemed much more cramped. So perhaps the 6 bed is the way to go (there are also 4 bed, and private rooms). I was impressed to find a charging station beside each bunk, with two plus and two usb ports, plus a light. This made reading, etc, easier when it got later and some people started to go to bed. It also made a convenient little shelf near your head for glasses/key card/etc.

I didn't enjoy the metal bunk beds, which are by nature a little bit squeaky. I'd prefer nice solid wood beds, so that little movements from your bunk mate wouldn't wake you. One night we had a prolific snorer in our room, who didn't respond very nicely to friendly suggestions to help reduce the snoring....a quick trip to the front desk produced a handful of free earplugs, which really made a difference.

I found the lockers to be fine. I was traveling with a carry-on size roller bag, which fit inside without problems. It also slid easily under then bed, and there was room beside the bunks too. Bring two locks, and keep your valuables in your locker, and then lock your bag and put it under a bunk. There was no problem with the air conditioning - it came on and off throughout the night/day, and was on the quiet side. I was never uncomfortable with the temperature.

The bathrooms were very clean, especially considering that they are communal, hostel bathrooms. They were almost always empty when I went in, and I never waited for a shower (I showered between 7:30 and 9 am, and some evenings too). I like the curtains (DC Metro!) and the additional privacy curtains for when you are toweling off.

Breakfast was a nice touch. John is getting famous for his "tell me how to say hello in a language other than English" requests! He seemed to know almost everyone, and easily spotted new people. He's a real treasure at the hostel. The breakfast selection consisted of: orange juice, tea, coffee, yogurt, bread, bagels, muffins, 3-4 types of cereal and granola, butter, jam, cream cheese, honey. As a previous reviewer pointed out, you rely on the person who used the utensils before you to have washed everything properly. I did not always find everything to be as clean as I would have liked, and sometimes observed people just rinsing dishes. I'd recommend that the hostel invest in a dishwasher (the kind with a conveyor, like bars use for glasses), or find another way to make sure that dishes are properly sanitized. I guess individuals could also re-wash their dishes before eating breakfast.

The folks at the front desk were good. One of the women was a bit on the cold side (no smile, very dismisses, just shrugged at requests and said no), but Michael was amazing. He seems to work 20 hours a day (he was *always* there), and he always had a smile and a friendly hello. He never tired of giving recommendations or suggestions, and is a great source of information.

Others have already commented, but the location is excellent - a short 10-15 minute walk to the White House, nearby metro, and a friendly neighbourhood overall.

Room Tip: I'd go with a 6 or 4 bed dorm (based on what I heard of others staying in 8 bed dorms). Ask for...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank ecarter478
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark-GM, General Manager at HI Washington DC Hostel, responded to this review, September 23, 2013
ecarter478: Thanks for the Perfect Score, the lovely photos, and most of all for visiting us so often!

We are in the process of installing those bed lamps / charging stations / shelves at every bed. They in place in all Private Rooms and 4-, 6-, and 8-bed dorms. The only rooms left are the 10-bed dorms, and we will have those done this Fall / Winter.

Thanks for the shout-out to John (he IS famous and a treasure!), and compliments on our cleanliness, staff assistance with ear plugs, lockers, breakfast, and location. Though, it does seem like we have a few things to address. We do rely on hostellers to wash their dishes, and have signs encouraging everyone to wash them before and after use -- just to be sure. I am sorry about one of the team being dismissive. That is certainly not how anyone should be treated. I will speak to the team to ensure we are all on the same page.

Thanks, so much, for your very complete review! ~ Mark Schneider, HI-DC General Manager
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Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed September 6, 2013

This was the first time I had stayed in a hostel, and it was a good experience. The rooms are large and comfortable, sleeping 10 people on bunk beds. The bathrooms were nice and clean, (single sex bathrooms on each floor) with 2 toilets and 3 showers each. The breakfast was good with cereal and muffins however, you have to clear your plate and cup which means you rely on the cleaning of the person before you. There was free WIFI in the lobby area however, not in the rooms which would have been even better. The lift was incredibly slow meaning we regularly walked up 7 flights of stairs. Those working in the hotel seemed happy, friendly and courteous. The location was perfect in easy access to the monuments, museums and anything your likely to need in Washington. Recommended for anyone needing a relatively cheap place to stay whilst in Washington.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Becky W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark-GM, General Manager at HI Washington DC Hostel, responded to this review, September 23, 2013
Becky W: Welcome to the wonderful world of hostelling! We're so glad that you chose us for your first experience and that it was a good one. You certainly packed a lot of info into your review. Thank you for all of the kind comments about our guestrooms, bathrooms, breakfast, staff, location, and most of all for recommending us.

It is very true that Suzie, our elevator, is quite slow. Unfortunately, as you may read in other responses that follow, this is not something that we can tackle right now, financially. All of us eagerly await the day that we get a new one.

Good news about the Wi-Fi -- we're getting a complete upgrade. We are increasing bandwidth buying new routers for all of the guestroom floors, and looking into contractors to do the wiring of those routers. We expect to have all of that done this Winter.

Well, I guess that's about it! We hope you return to experience our upgraded, free Wi-Fi! ~ Mark Schneider, HI-DC General Manager
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2 reviews
Reviewed September 3, 2013

Perfectly located near the Metro Station and within walking distance to the National Mall. Delightful breakfast of cereals, bagels and assorted muffins to kick start the day. Not forgetting the free WIFI at level 1 and 2. Except for the small lockers, the rest is fine!

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank jwlim2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark-GM, General Manager at HI Washington DC Hostel, responded to this review, September 4, 2013
jwlim2013: Thanks for the quick note and review! Glad you liked the location and breakfast. It's true that the in-room lockers can't fit everything one might bring on an around-the-world trip, but they can easily fit one of those really large backpacks that global trekkers carry. Hope that helps. Cheers! ~ Mark Schneider, HI-DC General Manager
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Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
3 reviews
Reviewed August 30, 2013

with little experience I can only rate this lodging average. following the maxim: location, location, location, the hostel rests on the far corner of the map of the major monuments. if you are lobbyist on a budget, maybe would appreciate one-dollar five-stop bus ride from Union Station. the Tesla dealership lies across the intersection.
on the other hand the personnel seemed to enjoy their work; helping you and me.
at Wal-Mart you expect you expect a greeter. at HI-DC John greets you like a ringmaster directing your eye too all the performers, that's the rest of us. you too will find yourself drawn to performer. Martha says little but sees everything and keeps it spotless. except the dishes. that responsibility lies with you. or more accurately the person who used the utensils just before you.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Johnson_from_Wisc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark-GM, General Manager at HI Washington DC Hostel, responded to this review, September 2, 2013
Johnson_from_Wisc: Nice handle! Love the rhyme!

Yes, our location is a real asset. Just a 15 minute walk, and you'll be at most of the best of what DC has to offer -- monuments, museums, galleries, bars and restaurants! John and Marta really do a wonderful job at breakfast. I will send them your regards!

I am sorry that other than those items, we were only average. Regardless, we will do our best to make long-lasting, powerful, and positive memories for all of our hostellers. I hope that next time you visit us, we will move up a few ticks on the Awesome Scale! Thanks for the review! ~ Mark Schneider, HI-DC General Manager
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Leeds
Level Contributor
23 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed August 29, 2013

I stayed at the HI - Washington for three nights as part of a trip around America in August.

The hostel is in a great location to see the sights in Washington as it is just a few blocks walk north of the 'Metro Center' subway stop and it is close enough to the sites that you can walk to the White House, National Archives, Chinatown, National Mall, in well under 45 minutes.

The hostel is much smaller than the HI in New York and thus it seemed to have much less in the way of tours as during my three nights there were no pub crawls/night social events and as alcohol is banned it made for quite a stodgy, dull atmosphere.

The day tours however were a good opportunity to meet other travelers and see the cities sights in a group. I went on the Arlington Cemetery tour and the night monuments tour. Whilst both the tour guides weren't exactly experts on their subjects the tour was nonetheless worthwhile for meeting people from the hostel.

There was two bathrooms on my floor, which have three showers separated by a curtain and a couple of toilets and sinks. I never had to wait to use any of the facilities but I could see how they would get busy during the morning.

I stayed in a ten bed dorm which was a decent size and had a large locker big enough to fit my backpack in. The beds also have an individual light and charging outlets which is very handy.

The location around the hostel seemed very safe and clean like most of central D.C and there is a subway right next door which is great for lunch or a soda.

I would stay at the HI - Washington if I were in D.C again due to it's location, however the lack of atmosphere/nightlife options were a let down.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ainsleyb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark-GM, General Manager at HI Washington DC Hostel, responded to this review, September 2, 2013
ainsleyb: It appears that we did well with the mechanics of the hostel stay -- thanks for the detailed descriptions!

On the flip side, I completely understand your thoughts on the nightlife of the hostel, and your comments are justified. We are not, nor do we strive to be, a Party Hostel. Of course, we do not want to be dull, but if an up-all-night-drinking-and-partying atmosphere is what you seek, I have to be honest and say that we will not be able to make you happy.

Here is some background on nightlife and drinking that may be helpful.

As you described, we do have activities throughout the day and night (you seemed to enjoy the Night Monuments Tour). We have pub crawls about twice a week, but I guess that your stay did not coincide with one of those. Sorry about that. In essence, we go for variety -- tours, dinner nights, pub crawls, movie nights, etc.

For nightlife, we're just 4 blocks from China Town, with loads of bars and pubs. Also, the U Street Corridor is a fun and funky, up-and-coming night spot -- only a 10- to 15-minute walk up 11th Street. If you really want the famous nighttime hot spots of Georgetown or Adams Morgan, those are a short bus or taxi ride away. The way DC is laid out, the daytime sightseeing places are in one area (downtown), and the nightlife is halfway across town (upper Northwest). We're near the former.

One last point involves the alcohol policy at the hostel. As described in a response several submissions down, the DC is very strict about alcohol. We can thank our Puritan heritage for that. :-) Some hostels may allow drinking in their common areas, but this is risky. The property must have a special license to allow people to bring their own bottles of alcohol. It's not like a hotel, because there people have private spaces (guest rooms), and no hotels allow drinking in the lobby -- unless they bought it at the hotel's bar. If you run afoul of the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), they can shut you down AND throw you in jail. They do not mess around.

I hope this helps to explain some of the reasons for what we do. In any event, I hope you find the blow-out parties you seek. Party on! ~ Mark Schneider, HI-DC General Manager
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Bremen, Germany
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed August 21, 2013

I will make this review short: It is a typicall HI place to stay: good value for money, central located (just 15 mins to walk to the White House), well equipped kitchen, spacious dorm rooms and (very important for me) clean and safe.

The breakfast is really nice with bagels, juice, cereals, fruits and so on. All day long coffee and tea for free. Really cinema like TV room. Friendly staff.

One "bad" thing: wifi just reaches to the 5th floor. The floors above dont get connected...
But that's really an easy thing to deal with ;-)

To all: enjoy your stay

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Reisefiep
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark-GM, General Manager at HI Washington DC Hostel, responded to this review, September 2, 2013
Reisefiep: Thanks for the recommendation! It's great to know that we are a great value, too. Please see the next response for info on the Wi-Fi. As you can see, we're listening! :-) Reisefiep
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Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2013

Hostel International has always been a great value with many locations around the world. DC's is no exception. Friendly staff and other occupants that love to travel you are bound to meet more adventurers. My only complaint is that the wifi is only on the first floor which is strange considering it is 2013 (just joking). Anyway, highly recommend.

Room Tip: Bring a lock for the lockers, and of course, don't mind having roommates.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank James F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark-GM, General Manager at HI Washington DC Hostel, responded to this review, September 2, 2013
James F: Thanks for the great shout-out for HI! As a non-profit organization, we give our all to create an atmosphere where travelers from around the world can meet and learn about their new friends' cultures. Rock on!

For the Wi-Fi, we're working on getting that throughout the hostel. First step is to boost the bandwidth. Second step is to get routers for each floor (they are on back-order, so not sure when they will be sent). Final step, once we get the routers, is to do the wiring. That's pricey with 8 floors, but hopefully our guests will appreciate the hostel-wide access.

Thanks for the fantastic review! ~ Mark Schneider, HI-DC General Manager
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Additional Information about HI Washington DC Hostel

Property: HI Washington DC Hostel
Address: 1009 11th St NW, Washington DC, DC 20001-4409
Phone Number:
Location: United States > District of Columbia > Washington DC
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Kitchenette Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Washington DC
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2 star — HI Washington DC Hostel 2*
Number of rooms: 42
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Staying at HI DC is like visiting your friends in the nation's living room! As a non-profit organization dedicated to cultural understanding through travel, we're excited to warmly welcome everyone. Our dorm-style and private rooms bring together budget travelers from around the world in a safe, clean, and fun environment. We have a long list of FREE amenities and an unbeatable location - just 8 blocks to The White House and The National Mall (home to world-famous monuments, museums, and galleries), 4 blocks to China Town, and 3 blocks to the Metro. We're Gold Level Certified by Trip Advisor's Green Leaders Program, too! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hostelling International - Washington, Dc Hotel Washington Dc

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