Sander Accommodation Reviews
Cancun Hotel resort review: Marriott CasaMagna Resort Cancun
Not my type of place at all, ordinarily, but we needed a recovery day from too many hours in various busses, before spending far too many hours in planes, and this place performed absolutely admirably. It's one of those huge chain hotel resort-like places (but not quite as expensive as most resorts here), connected to another one by the same organization, and between them they have a wealth of restaurants (all overpriced, but also all pretty decent, even if only one of them has outdoor seating). The swimming pool is decent, the WiFi only free in the lobby/pool-areas (but many rooms can pick it up just fine from there, particularly if you're sitting on your balcony, and otherwise the lobbies have a decent amount of seating _with_ power outlets if you hunt around for it), the beach is of course right there, with a gorgeous sea to gaze out over (loved walking along the beach and seeing the pelicans diving into the sea right in front of us), and staff is almost invariably very friendly and helpful. Breakfast tip: Don't go straight for the buffet, but check out the menu, which can work out quite a bit cheaper.
El Calafate HOSTEL review: Schilling Hostel Patagonico
An acceptable place to stay at for a few days. I wouldn't mind staying here again during a next visit, but it wouldn't be the first place I'd look at either; there must be nicer places in town. Breakfast was the low point of what was on offer here - extremely unfilling - but service was friendly, the lounge area nice, the rooms okay, and the location very good (note that google maps currently plots it to the wrong location; it's located a bit further to the southeast, on a street just marked as "Paradelo", up on the hill, and really very close to the bus station).
Nelson HOSTEL review: YHA Nelson Central
Everything's just good at this very large and well-equipped YHA. Basic quality as you'd expect it, a nice terrace, very large kitchen and dining area, decent lounge. One gripe is that if you come with your own car, parking is a bit of an ordeal in Nelson. You can park overnight at the big parking area right next to the hostel, but then have to get up early to move the car to the other side of town.
Kaikoura HOSTEL review: YHA Kaikoura
An amazingly well-equipped kitchen, including many spices, was the highlight for us in this hostel. Lovely rooms and building. Staff availability was a bit hit-and-miss, but friendly when there. Location is halfway between town and the seal colony, which can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. We didn't mind the walk all that much, but I can see people being less positive about this. Really nice view over the water, though.
Tongariro National Park HOSTEL review: YHA National Park Backpackers & Climbing Wall
Mostly an unremarkable but decent hostel, in an uninspiring town which no one cares for anyway, since everyone is here for the big as National Park right next door. Didn't care for the climbing hall, but easy enough to ignore. Kitchen was decently equipped, though fridge-space was tight as usual. The "have to pay extra for sheets" comment from 2009 below worried us when booking here, but this definitely wasn't the case for us. Staff friendliness stood out positively, with a special mention for recommending the excellent Station Cafe (expensive, but way up there in quality) to us for dinner when we had something to celebrate.
New Plymouth HOSTEL review: Egmont Eco Lodge
We liked this hostel better than the star-rating would make you think. It had atmosphere, in large part helped by the chicken and cats randomly walking into the lounge to entertain the guests. Facilities were bad though; the washing machine in particular is a nightmare (cost us _so_ much money due to the bad instructions, and at least one other person had the same, with reception not only not offering a refund, but just ignoring it altogether). The kitchen was tiny, but well-stocked. Being way out of town (it's walkable, but only barely), it had a very nice backyard (complete with eel-stocked babbling brook) and balcony, and made it easy to get to talking with other people. Mattresses weren't the best, and windows lacked any kind of mosquito-netting.
Okay to stay at if you have your own transportation; otherwise find somewhere better.
Whangarei HOSTEL review: YHA Whangarei Falls Backpackers
Location is a mixed bag; right next to the falls, so great for some hiking, but you really need a car to get into town. Very friendly owners, great to have basically an entire cabin (complete with fridge) for ourselves (as "private room"), but shower facilities are very much "campground"-style.
Know what you're getting; for us, on this trip, it was pretty much perfect, but I can imagine many people who would prefer something other than this.
Melbourne HOSTEL review: Miami Hotel Melbourne
This is really a budget hotel, which happens to have a tiny kitchen on the second floor, and thus also can function as a hostel. As such, it unfortunately lacks all hostel atmosphere. If you book a private room, you will need to explicitly ask about that kitchen to have your room key recoded to provide access, as you won't find information about its existence anywhere.
Staff is friendly enough, and the location is great (right next to Errol Street, for some great restaurant options), but WiFi is freakishly expensive.
Definitely not bad, but know what you're getting.
Apollo Bay HOSTEL review: Apollo Bay Eco YHA
Lovely hostel, amazing building. Really good facilities, awesome lounges. My only 'complaint' would be the looong corridor; walking from our room (at the far end of said corridor) to the kitchen always seemed to take an eternity. *g*
I'm not all that much of a fan of the town of Apollo Bay itself, but it makes for a useful stopover along the Great Ocean Road, and this hostel definitely makes it a lot better than it could've been. Be sure not to miss the lovely short Mait's Rest rainforest hike (about a 15 minute drive west).
Port Campbell HOSTEL review: Port Campbell Hostel
Left with a bit of mixed feelings about this place; on the surface of it, the facilities are top-notch, but half of them were broken down while we were there. In particular, only one shower was available in the entire building. Communication about this was good, but I don't understand why fixing it would take as long as it did. Downstairs area was very uninviting, with harsh light and the TV very central (and loud), meaning you could either try to ignore it, or just head somewhere else.
Apparently a very popular hostel for big tour groups, as half the fridge space was reserved for them.
Loved the toilets, where water for washing your hands is reused for filling the tank (at the same time raising awareness of just how much water goes into a tank!)