This hostel is undeniably basic, but they are trying hard. All the really important things for travellers are there. The security is superb: the only time the woman at the entrance hall missed giving us the once-over as we passed her cubbyhole at street level, she was out of her room to check us out before we were halfway up the first flight of stairs! Dorm rooms have lockable wardrobes, the room area needs a key both to enter and to exit, and the reception is always there and alert. The staff are incredibly helpful - and very friendly to boot. I left a coat on the bus which necessitated numerous calls to the bus station before the bus company would confirm it was there, and they called and re-called on my behalf, without a breath of annoyance, until they got a result. Then we had a bag stolen in the street that contained our bus tickets and again they were really helpful in finding a way for us to reprint them. After we left Russia the bag mysteriously reappeared at the bus station and the Hostel contacted us back at home with this news and arranged to send it on. The Ritz could not improve on this level of customer service!
The place itself is well located within the city, away from the main tourist area but within easy walking distance of Nevsky Prospect and the sights. There is a brilliant patisserie/baker cafe 2 blocks down the road that the hostel is on, in the direction that is away from the main road, if you prefer a deluxe breakfast. On the opposite corner from the cafe is a splendid delicatessen so you have no need to go to a restaurant for topnotch food. There is a usable fridge, lots and lots of really hot water in the showers, several places to sit outside one's room, and a cheerfully bizarre approach to interior decor manifest in the murals painted on the room walls. The beds are comfortable and the bedlinen clean if old. Take your own towel since the one provided is pretty minimal. Try the ancient lift if you enjoy a thrill!
I very much enjoyed staying here. It reminded me of youthful travelling in the 70s. There were several (friendly) people staying here from other places in Russia so you had a more cosmopolitan experience than if you stayed in a smart hotel. For a cheap hostel, I don't believe you could do better. Safety and helpfulness count for more than appearance in a place like this and they really score high on those.