Castanea Old Town Hostel is located in the heart of Gamla Stan (old town Stockholm, where the "original" Royal Palace is located), minutes away from the main shopping street and Stortorget, but in a quiet, residential area. There are several small businesses on the street where the hostel is, but it is amazingly quiet and peaceful while being a stone's throw away from the action.
The walk from the Tunnelbana (underground) is about an eight-minute walk and relatively easy (except if you have too much stuff to lug up the somewhat steep inclined street and/or are jet-lagged!). Just follow the directions given on their website as to how to find the hostel. Nothing marks the hostel other than a very small, brown metal plaque next to the door. The hostel is on the second floor of the building. There is an elevator, which is a welcome sight for some after a long day of lugging stuff around!
The hostel is owned by two sisters, who are friendly and are more than willing to answer any questions asked of them. They walked us through the hostel personally on arrival and gave us a hearty welcome. We got great recommendations for restaurants and places to have "fika" (afternoon coffee break of sorts). They have only been running it since the last year -- the hostel had been a one-star hotel in its previous life.
Staff are only there between 9 and 11 and 3 and 6 everyday. In between those hours, there are no staff members present -- however, we never found this to be a problem. While there is no locked luggage room, there is no problem leaving luggage at the front desk. There aren't any lock-out hours or curfew. Access is gained by punching a code in the front door of the building and again at the front door of the hostel. If you are staying in a dorm, you will also receive an access code to the dorm door instead of a key.
The hostel has a truly "bare-bones" decor. All walls and floors are white, and with the exception of the bright accents in the common room, kitchen, and eating area, decor isn't interesting -- but then again, why should that matter? We stayed in a two-bed, private room which was surprisingly cozy (not big, but definitely not too small) where we could lay out our two packs almost comfortably and almost walk around -- definitely one of the bigger private rooms we'd seen in a hostel anywhere. Beds are actually quite comfortable and there are large picture windows that open. The best "European moment" at this hostel is listening to the church bells chime while laying in bed with a nice spring breeze! Linens are for rent and the towels are huge, beach-sized -- super!
The common areas are not anything exciting. There is not a television or any Internet access. There are, however, ports for connection in the rooms -- but we're not sure if they worked or how much they cost. Kitchen is well-equipped and has a nice eating area. A 7-11 is a five-minute walk away. There are three toilets for the whole hostel. There are four showers. We never had a problem getting hot water or waiting any more than five minutes, but we weren't there in summer. There are some notices posted, reminding others to save on hot water, so it may be a problem at times.
We stayed at the hostel for five nights in late spring and didn't really see any social activities or connections being made while we were there -- in fact, there were two Swedish families and a school group lodging with us in the hostel. We didn't really see too many other "non-local" types -- which can be good or bad, depending upon the experience you're looking to have! If you're a young single, we'd look elsewhere. If you're with someone else and/or don't care about a social atmosphere and are looking to be as close as possible to the major sights, this is your place.
Bottom line on this hostel is that the location is absolutely perfect for sightseeing and eating/drinking. The hostel is clean -- we had no problems with cleanliness save a few overflowing trashcans -- and the staff is friendly. The only downside apparent would be that there is no social life or TV/net.