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“Ok place, helpful staff”

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Brown Sugar Backpackers
Reviewed March 19, 2012

Spent the last 2 nights of our stay in SA in this backackers. Didn't really enjoy Johannesburg too much, riots all over the city and depressed about leaving the country :)
Ok backpackers, good service, nice food, calm neighbourhood.

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank AnkiUppgard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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91 - 97 of 137 reviews

Reviewed February 20, 2012

I was grateful to have a prompt airport pickup and a courteous driver waiting at arrivals after an overnight flight. The design of the house and garden was nice from the outside, really impressive driving in. It's perched on a hill and the back of the house offered nice views of the area.

Other than that, this place left a lot of room for improvement. The front desk staff averaged at apathetic. Friendly in some exchanges, nickeling and diming at others, visibly annoyed at times, but mostly just apathetic. I got more courtesy and saw more enthusiasm from the cleaning staff.
The WIFI was down, the internet was only accessible during front desk hours. There was a cockroach walking across the table as I sat down to a not so good dinner. The cooking staff seemed to take pride in their work, I might have had some bad luck on the dish they served that night. The "newly renovated" areas were hard to come by. The facilities were adequate, but the claims on the internet just set me up for disappointment. The house had a strange, old, nostalgic, italian grandma's feel to it. The upstairs smelled like it hadn't been aired out since the 70's, the pictures, furniture, design all added up to a strange vibe.

The free transport is a huge upside, but other than that, with so many other options out there, this will now be my last resort for joburg. Luckily, their biggest weakness can be addressed more easily with some training and/or personnel changes, but I can't really recommend this place as it is now.

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled solo
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1  Thank GilaMonsterAntidote
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 2, 2012

Location is inconvenient; the area is not at all safe after dark. But the transfers were handled well, and the staff was helpful, if not terribly friendly. WIFI was down, and only one computer was working. Rooms and showers were adequate.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank roberts885
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 17, 2011

The building itself is cool (old mafia mansion) and my airport pick up was satisfactory. Also, the multi bed dorm room was a decent size and the bathrooms were sufficient. Unfortunately, not a great area if you don't have your own transit, the free breakfast was so unappealing I didn't even eat it, and I agree about staff being unfriendly. One of them had a small child there who actually booted me in the shin for no reason and no one told the kid to stop. Was much happier when I switched accom.

Stayed: November 2010, traveled solo
2  Thank MKSimons
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 20, 2011

As far as backpackers go, it's *very* average. Pretty run down, and not a lot care put into maintenance, but not terrible. The reason for the poor review would be the staff. I checked in at about 8:00pm. The "day" staff had gone home at this point, and the man would was responsible for check-ins was *pissed* drunk. Most of the other men hanging around the bar (not guests, but also not "working" - not really sure what their role was exactly) were also drinking, but the man who checked me in was not just a little drunk... he was slurring his words badly, asked me a number of questions multiple times (some 3 or 4 times). I'd had a long day of travel at this point, and it was extremely irritating to have to essentially babysit this grown man, who was too intoxicated to do his job. To put someone so immature and irresponsible in such a position is quite frankly beyond me.
Seriously, I've never seen this anywhere - and I've traveled a lot in the last year. For some context... at this point I'd been backpacking for close to 6 months. I pretty much know what to expect as far as staff and the hostel "scene".... but I'd NEVER seen such unprofessionalism ANYWHERE. To me, there is no excuse for this.

**The owners seriously need to do some "house-keeping" so to speak, if they care at all about the future of their business. Words spreads quick in the backpacking world.**

The rest of the staff wasn't *quite* as bad (well I don't think you could get much worse) but I found almost everyone who worked at Brown Sugar to be very unfriendly. A smile every now and then would be nice! I felt like the place was full of emotionless robots. Not exactly what you would look for in the hospitality industry. Really can't recommend this place. Avoid at all costs... plenty of other backpackers/hostels with similar offerings in the city.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled solo
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1  Thank rebeccius
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2011

flew from hk. staff were terrible. they dont know how to smile. hand gestures were annoying. gave us a room which was wet and they didnt even say sorry. net is expensive and they dont treat you like a guest. if you ask for favor, they make you feel that you are disturbing them. one of the worse hostel ive been to!

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled with friends
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Thank AdelosReyes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 24, 2010

I stayed there for 2 nights, at the end of our trip, on March 2010. The place was really disappointing. Not at all like the pictures on the website!!

The hostel was under renovation and it seems like a mess. The employees were lost and not helpful. The place was very noisy and chaotic and, on the second day, there was a blackout and we stayed with no power at all!!

The rooms were kind of dirty and offered very little for the price. Considering the stayed on the most expensive room of the place, it was a shame...

The breakfast was very poor and we had to cook it ourselfs with a limited supply and a crowded kitchen.

On the plus side, they offered off-the-street parking, but that's it!

Also, we found Johannesburg too intimidating to wander out alone and the staff could not offer us no tip at all.. not even a map!

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank luizniquet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Brown Sugar Backpackers

Address: 75 Observatory Avenue | Observatory Extension, Johannesburg 2198, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Gauteng > Greater Johannesburg > Johannesburg
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 121 Specialty Lodging in Johannesburg
Price Range: $27 - $30 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This 'Ex-Mafia Mansion' offers clean, spacious, comfy and secure accommodation from camping, dormitories, family rooms, doubles, twin, triples and singles with shared or privite bathrooms. We are the largest hostel in Johannesburg and offer the following freebies: A Scrumptious breakfast, Free pick up from OR Tambo Airport or Park Station, Wi-Fi and internet, safes in all private rooms and private lockers in dorms, day and long term storage, tea and coffee. Print, scan and postage facilities available. Self service coin operated laundry room and swimming pool with amazing views. We have credit card facilities and our own ATM on site. We have our own drivers and vehicles for cheap shuttles to the shops and other locations. Our in-house tour guide is available daily for the most popular local tours of Joburg. The staff can assist you with a Kruger Park Tour, Victoria Falls or Chobe National Park tours. We are a Baz Bus stop and just waiting to welcome you. ... more   less 

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