HI - YHA Cambridge Hostel isn't a really terrible place, but there are lots of little things that mount up to become major irritations and by the time you've paid for everything you could probably have gotten yourself a hotel room with breakfast!
Cambridge YHA is a five-minute walk from the main train station and ten into the city centre. The location is quite quiet, as the area is residential. Within two minutes there are shops, cafes, restaurants, and pubs.
Rooms and Bathrooms
The rooms are bit shabby, with paint-spattered curtains, scraped paintwork, and chipped veneers. Clothes-hanging areas are not tall enough and storage space is minimal. Reading lights are badly located. There are three separate toilets and two showers off the first-floor landing. There are no issues with cleanliness. The showers are tiny, wet rooms with a small section just inside the door where one would undress and dry; this area is a little cramped, making dressing after a shower a difficult task. Towels are not standard issue in YHA hostels in the UK. You can pay to hire one, but these towels are tiny and although they are clean, they could smell fresher.
All the public spaces are tired looking, and while they're not really dirty, there's a general air of grubbiness that comes from age. The colours need revamping -- they are awful. The hostel has Wi-Fi access, for which you'll need to buy a card from reception. You can also use one of the computers belonging to the hostel; the cost is the same as for Wi-Fi -- they are in the room with the bar and the pool table, which might be a distraction. There's some comfortable seating in the computer room and more in the television lounge.
Daily specials as well as things like soups and sandwiches are listed on a board for those not wishing to self-cater. While the prices are not extortionate, they seem high for a hostel. The large, self-catering kitchen has plenty of mismatched and battered but perfectly serviceable cooking equipment. Only if the hostel was packed and every guest wanted to cook would these facilities be less than ideal.
There is a luggage storage area, but guests are advised not to leave anything of value unless they use a locker. The cost depends upon the size of locker used; the fee is nonrefundable. Items such as toothbrushes or shampoo can be bought from reception for extortionate prices. Guests are requested not to bring in their own alcohol, but local real ales as well as some other alcoholic drinks can be bought from the hostel.
Usually notices on the walls of hostels advertise fun events or useful services offered by the hostel; the notices here inform you of all the things you may not do (occasionally there are notices that do not read as overtly prohibitive, but actually are, because they imply some kind of unpleasant outcome if you do not do as youre requested).
This sort of establishment will quickly look a bit worn around the edges, but it wouldn't take too much effort to try to manage minor repairs. A high reception counter is oppressive -- they could drop the counter and instantly make the place look more welcoming. Also, the staff are not very welcoming.