Dusky Lodge is a large hostel with an institutional feel. Its crowning glory is its pool complex, consisting of a landscaped, heated pool; a hot tub (no jets, but it's heated to 102 degrees Fahrenheit); and a sauna. The pools are clean and pleasant; we did not try the sauna, but it looks well-kept from the outside. Regrettably, the same cannot be said about the rest of the hostel.
Dusky Lodge is on Beach Road, which, at least in summer, is a busy thoroughfare, lined with fast-food places and souvenir shops. Most guests have cars; if you don't, you'll need to take a shuttle from the bus or train station. A New World Supermarket is about six blocks away, and there is a sidewalk; unfortunately, you have to cross the busy road.
The ocean is in view just across the street, but it's hard to reach; indeed, we found it impossible. Businesses block access along much of the road. When you eventually find a place to cut through, the Tranz Coastal train tracks are in the way, and beyond them is what looks like a swamp.
Rooms and Bathrooms
The dorms are six-bed rooms, with three wooden bunks apiece. The rooms are carpeted, but there's nothing in them but the bunks. Private rooms are equally underfurnished; our room had nothing in it but a double bed (admittedly comfortable) and a television on a wall shelf. Singles, doubles, and family rooms are also available.
There are at least three bathrooms on the main floor -- one unisex, one for women, and one for men. The women's room, and presumably the men's room also, have an accessible shower and toilet. The accessible toilet's seat is broken, but it is still usable.
Dorm rooms, and private rooms for that matter, are cold, especially at night. Each room has an individual heater, but it is on a timer, and it will only work from 7 to 10 at night and from 7 to 11 in the morning. For most of the daytime, the inhabitants are simply left to freeze. Staff members were willing to lend us extra blankets, but our room was still unacceptably cold.
Traffic noise is a real problem in the single and double rooms facing the highway. It does not seem to be as bad in the dorms.
There are three lounges, one with television, and all with wood-burning fireplaces. Charming as this is, it is dismaying to find that these fireplaces are actually used to heat the common rooms, and even more dismaying to find that in summer no one bothers to light them.
The two kitchens have only toaster ovens, not true ovens, and while there is a refrigerator in each kitchen, there is no freezer. The refrigerator in the main kitchen, which is open twenty-four hours and convenient to the dorms, is so overcrowded that it is difficult to find your food in it.
When we were there, the main kitchen was not very clean; the secondary kitchen, being less used, was better. There always seems to be dirty dishes about in the main kitchen, despite a sign's warning that the kitchen is under camera surveillance and that those who fail to do their dishes would forfeit their key deposit.
There are three computers, and there's a good Global Gossip internet link, though it did drop once for well over an hour during our stay and the staff did not consider this a serious problem. Laundry is inexpensive, though the washing-machines will only wash on the "Colors" cycle. When we were there, the machines themselves were clean and functional, but the laundry room was grubby and poorly kept.
The hostel is a drop-off point for Magic and Kiwi Experience. Most guests stay only for a night or two. When we were there, there was very little community feeling or hostel atmosphere. People keep to themselves -- the lounges are underused.
Dusky Lodge can be called neither a quiet nor a party hostel. On three of the four nights we were there, the private-rooms wing was quiet by 10 p.m. and the dorm wing was quiet by 11. On one of the nights, however, which admittedly was a Saturday, we were kept up all night by a riotous, roaring-drunk group in the private room next to us, who shouted and romped in the halls, and, apparently, also got into the swimming pool after hours. There is, as far as we could tell, no night manager to attend to these things, and the drunks were not subdued until 5 a.m., when the police showed up.
For a group with an automobile, or for travelers on the Magic Bus or Kiwi Experience, Dusky Lodge might be a suitable choice for a night's stay, or even two -- preferably on a weeknight. The pool complex makes up for a lot, but we cannot recommend this hostel for weekends, or for extended stays.