I am a Westerner with some Russian heritage and have deep knowledge of what the Russian standards are. I stayed at Taganka in a 6-bunk bed female dorm with a friend in September 2012.
The hostel is rather new, and knowing how distasteful Russian taste can be, must say that Taganka has definitely been decorated with taste and it is far cleaner and nicer than many hostels in London!
The atmosphere is very relaxed and privacy is highly respected. I guess this is also because of the language barrier, as the majority of the clientele is Russian, mainly people travelling to Moscow for business/study, with a fair share of tourists. Hence if you're a group of party animals, this is not the place for you. I'd rather recommend it for couples, small families and small groups of friends who'd rather go to bed after a long day of sightseeing. Not a youth hostel in the sense you might get in the West (there are some in London, for instance, which even have dedicated nightclubs/pubs in the hostels themselves....Taganka is anything but). I mean, there is little scope for socialising and related. It is more of a nice place where you come back to rest after a long day.
The hostel staff is very nice and helpful. Showers and toilets are as clean as a whistle and there is also one single toilet with a basin and mirror which you can use for private use. Showers are in a shared facility, however there is also one shower where you can lock yourself in on your own (I believe there is also a washing machine there, if I'm not mistaken).
Rooms also are very clean, equipped with lockers which have a spring lock and you keep your own key, which opens the door too (if I remember details correctly). You are given bed sheets and a towel I believe. There is also a cafeteria with TV where breakfast is served for a fee, or which functions as a bar for the rest of the day. We have used the kitchen instead, which is small and has only a small table with two seats, however it is very well equipped. The furniture is all very new and tasteful, the kitchenware, cutlery and cups and the pans are all new and well-kept (you must do the washing up by yourself - and it is so clean that you will indeed feel like cleaning up after yourself as it'd be a shame to make such cleanliness dirty!). There is a microwave, a boiler, a water distributor and a huge fridge. You can keep your food in there safely, however still beware that this is a hostel - so it's helpless to complain if something of yours does get stolen from the fridge!
There is internet access upstairs, with three computers, which at the time was free of charge. I believe there is also Wifi access. The hotel rooms are located upstairs, hence there is some further privacy if you choose the hotel option.
To sum it up, I have stayed in the past in renovated Soviet or post-Soviet hotels which hence qualify as 3 or 4 stars and would never swap Taganka for those (unless if I went to a Hilton or Western hotel chain, or a 5-star hotel). In a nutshell, central, yet in a Muscovite and non-touristy neighbourhood, meeting and exceeding standards of cleanliness and very welcoming and cosy hostel/hotel. Relating to my experience in the hostel part of Taganka, I'd personally say you get something closer to a hotel experience for a hostel price. Value for your money! I will definitely come back!!
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