As part of my goal to review more accommodation and hostels on the blog, I thought I’d do one on the hostel I stayed at in St. Petersburg. This location, Friends on Dostoevskogo, was part of a popular chain called Friends Hostels—while the hostel I stayed at had a fair few downsides, I think the chain brand and theme was well done.
Location: The location was probably the worst part of Friends on Dostoevskogo. The neighborhood seemed very sketchy at first (although it got better the longer I stayed), and is also very far away from nearly all the main attractions. There are two Metro stations about 5-8 minutes walk away, and it’s convenient if you’re arriving by train from Moscow. But the location was not good, and I could tell that this was why it was the cheapest price of the chain. Also, the staircase and hallway of the building had a bit of a smell.
Room: I stayed in both a private room and a (female) 6-bed dorm room. The private room was very nice, with a large couch as well as a comfy double bed. The dorms are same-sex only, with big wooden bunk beds. They have individual plugs and reading lights, a shelf in the bed, a curtain for privacy, and huge storage lockers under the bunks. All things I love when staying in hostel dorms! While the room is fairly small and narrow, it’s nice to have a private bunk to spread out in. Unfortunately, I got eaten to death by mosquitoes from the window being open at night—I wish they had had bug screens for that.
Price: This is one of the cheapest locations for this chain, and you can tell. I felt that the price was good for what I got, especially for the dorm rooms that offered a lot of privacy (~817 rubles // £10.65 // $13.75 per night). The private room was a bit more expensive than I would have liked (3700 rubles // ~£48.30 // ~$62.30 /night), but it was also the cheapest price of any of their locations, and cheaper than most other (nice-looking) hostel privates in St. Petersburg.
Bathrooms: The bathrooms are all individual shower/toilet rooms, and there were about 7 or 8 rooms in the main hallway total. I rarely had to wait to use one. They were small, but cleaned regularly. There were also 3 large sinks in the corner, which was nice and cut down on bathroom queues.
Staff: It was really hit or miss with the staff at Friends on Dostoevskogo. Some staff members were really helpful and friendly, especially Darya (who worked reception and fixed any problems we had) and Tatyana (who I think was a full-time cleaner). Other staff members just really didn’t care, and you could tell.
Common Areas: While Friends on Dostoevskogo says that it has a fully equipped kitchen, they don’t. There was no oven/stove, and also no freezer. The kitchen is nicely decorated, and with dishes for basic meals. There’s a big common room/eating area (with a huge table), but not tons of seating (a small couch and two chairs). They have a TV and two computers for guests.
Amenities: The wifi worked well, but you needed to log in every day (which got annoying as I stayed 8 nights). The hostel was helpful with visa registration, although double check that all the details are correct: one of ours was done incorrectly (it had a misspelled name and incorrect passport number), which we needed to have re-done. Visa registration cost 250 rubles. I also believe they offer visa invitations on their website. They had a washing machine which was easy to use, which cost 100 rubles for a load (there was no dryer).
Security: Despite the poor location, I felt pretty safe at the hostel. Reception was open 24 hours—you had to buzz up to get let in to the main door, and again to get let in to the hostel itself. I felt like the hostel was pretty secure because of this system. My private room had its own key, but we didn’t have individual keys for dorm rooms—the dorms were just left open. This is probably the only thing about the security that I would change. The huge lockers (bring your own lock) did make me feel that my luggage and belongings were pretty safe.
Miscellaneous: I have to add somewhere that booking the Friends on Dostoevskogo Hostel was an absolute nightmare. Part of this was because it was 2 separate bookings (2 nights in a private room, and 6 nights in dorm rooms). But it got to the point where it was just ridiculous. It took 30+ emails to secure booking for the dates we needed and to pay a deposit (which was the first night of each stay in advance). It was so confusing and frustrating trying to make a booking and then to try to find a way to pay a deposit, I almost gave up on the place altogether. Also, the hostel doesn’t really have a great social atmosphere—most of the other people staying there were Russian, and again you could tell it was the cheapest location of the chain.
Verdict: Would I return? Yes, although begrudgingly to this location. I’d pay more money to be in a better location (farther up Nevsky at least), which is a big travel lesson I learned on this trip. The booking fiasco and the lack of real kitchen would make me wary to try to book at this chain again. Despite that, I would like to visit some of the other locations of this chain, as I think it’s obviously very well-done in terms of the interior.
Do you stay in hostels when you travel? What types of things do you look for in a hostel?
I was not compensated in any way by this hostel—my opinions are always my own.