We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Last resort...”

Best prices for -
Check In dd/mm/yyyy Check Out dd/mm/yyyy
Prices are for 1 room, 2 adults
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
Brown Sugar Backpackers
Reviewed 20 February 2012

I was grateful to have a prompt airport pickup and a courteous driver waiting at arrivals after an overnight flight. The design of the house and garden was nice from the outside, really impressive driving in. It's perched on a hill and the back of the house offered nice views of the area.

Other than that, this place left a lot of room for improvement. The front desk staff averaged at apathetic. Friendly in some exchanges, nickeling and diming at others, visibly annoyed at times, but mostly just apathetic. I got more courtesy and saw more enthusiasm from the cleaning staff.
The WIFI was down, the internet was only accessible during front desk hours. There was a cockroach walking across the table as I sat down to a not so good dinner. The cooking staff seemed to take pride in their work, I might have had some bad luck on the dish they served that night. The "newly renovated" areas were hard to come by. The facilities were adequate, but the claims on the internet just set me up for disappointment. The house had a strange, old, nostalgic, italian grandma's feel to it. The upstairs smelled like it hadn't been aired out since the 70's, the pictures, furniture, design all added up to a strange vibe.

The free transport is a huge upside, but other than that, with so many other options out there, this will now be my last resort for joburg. Luckily, their biggest weakness can be addressed more easily with some training and/or personnel changes, but I can't really recommend this place as it is now.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank GilaMonsterAntidote
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (141)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Language

93 - 99 of 141 reviews

Reviewed 2 February 2012

Location is inconvenient; the area is not at all safe after dark. But the transfers were handled well, and the staff was helpful, if not terribly friendly. WIFI was down, and only one computer was working. Rooms and showers were adequate.

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank roberts885
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 June 2011

The building itself is cool (old mafia mansion) and my airport pick up was satisfactory. Also, the multi bed dorm room was a decent size and the bathrooms were sufficient. Unfortunately, not a great area if you don't have your own transit, the free breakfast was so unappealing I didn't even eat it, and I agree about staff being unfriendly. One of them had a small child there who actually booted me in the shin for no reason and no one told the kid to stop. Was much happier when I switched accom.

Stayed: November 2010, travelled solo
2  Thank MKSimons
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 April 2011

As far as backpackers go, it's *very* average. Pretty run down, and not a lot care put into maintenance, but not terrible. The reason for the poor review would be the staff. I checked in at about 8:00pm. The "day" staff had gone home at this point, and the man would was responsible for check-ins was *pissed* drunk. Most of the other men hanging around the bar (not guests, but also not "working" - not really sure what their role was exactly) were also drinking, but the man who checked me in was not just a little drunk... he was slurring his words badly, asked me a number of questions multiple times (some 3 or 4 times). I'd had a long day of travel at this point, and it was extremely irritating to have to essentially babysit this grown man, who was too intoxicated to do his job. To put someone so immature and irresponsible in such a position is quite frankly beyond me.
Seriously, I've never seen this anywhere - and I've traveled a lot in the last year. For some context... at this point I'd been backpacking for close to 6 months. I pretty much know what to expect as far as staff and the hostel "scene".... but I'd NEVER seen such unprofessionalism ANYWHERE. To me, there is no excuse for this.

**The owners seriously need to do some "house-keeping" so to speak, if they care at all about the future of their business. Words spreads quick in the backpacking world.**

The rest of the staff wasn't *quite* as bad (well I don't think you could get much worse) but I found almost everyone who worked at Brown Sugar to be very unfriendly. A smile every now and then would be nice! I felt like the place was full of emotionless robots. Not exactly what you would look for in the hospitality industry. Really can't recommend this place. Avoid at all costs... plenty of other backpackers/hostels with similar offerings in the city.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank rebeccius
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 March 2011

flew from hk. staff were terrible. they dont know how to smile. hand gestures were annoying. gave us a room which was wet and they didnt even say sorry. net is expensive and they dont treat you like a guest. if you ask for favor, they make you feel that you are disturbing them. one of the worse hostel ive been to!

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank AdelosReyes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 November 2010

I stayed there for 2 nights, at the end of our trip, on March 2010. The place was really disappointing. Not at all like the pictures on the website!!

The hostel was under renovation and it seems like a mess. The employees were lost and not helpful. The place was very noisy and chaotic and, on the second day, there was a blackout and we stayed with no power at all!!

The rooms were kind of dirty and offered very little for the price. Considering the stayed on the most expensive room of the place, it was a shame...

The breakfast was very poor and we had to cook it ourselfs with a limited supply and a crowded kitchen.

On the plus side, they offered off-the-street parking, but that's it!

Also, we found Johannesburg too intimidating to wander out alone and the staff could not offer us no tip at all.. not even a map!

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank luizniquet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2010

I stayed while there for the world cup so I did have the bennifit of it being packed so maybe things are different at other times. It was overprice and only 1 and the 3 nights I stayed was there hot water. It was really cold in the rooms and no space heaters. I was sleeping by a window and was glad I had and extra blanket. Everyone was sleeping in multiple layers. The good was the drivers were really nice, the breakfast was included in the price and the bar was intertaining. The staff was friendly and helpful but the internet is more expensive there than any othe backpacker I have been to in SA. I was desperate and had to stay there an extra night which didn't make me to happy but I made some new friends so that is an upside.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank roseandtheworld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hotels you might also like...
Travellers also viewed these Johannesburg hotels
2.2 mi away
Curiocity Backpackers
Curiocity Backpackers
#3 of 126 in Johannesburg
95 reviews
11.2 mi away
Lebo's Soweto Backpackers
Lebo's Soweto Backpackers
#1 of 126 in Johannesburg
244 reviews
6.5 mi away
The Birches Backpackers
The Birches Backpackers
#8 of 126 in Johannesburg
33 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
5.2 mi away
HomeBase Melville
HomeBase Melville
#7 of 126 in Johannesburg
109 reviews
8.8 mi away
No photo provided
Guesthouse Macauly
#161 of 305 in Johannesburg
7 reviews
3.4 mi away
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to Brown Sugar Backpackers? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Brown Sugar Backpackers

Address: 75 Observatory Avenue | Observatory Extension, Johannesburg 2198, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Gauteng > Greater Johannesburg > Johannesburg
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #12 of 126 Speciality Lodging in Johannesburg
Price Range: £12 - £26 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This 'Ex-Mafia Mansion' offers clean, spacious, comfy and secure accommodation from camping, dormitories, family rooms, doubles, twin, triples and singles with shared or privite bathrooms. We are the largest hostel in Johannesburg and offer the following freebies: A Scrumptious breakfast, Free pick up from OR Tambo Airport or Park Station, Wi-Fi and internet, safes in all private rooms and private lockers in dorms, day and long term storage, tea and coffee. Print, scan and postage facilities available. Self service coin operated laundry room and swimming pool with amazing views. We have credit card facilities and our own ATM on site. We have our own drivers and vehicles for cheap shuttles to the shops and other locations. Our in-house tour guide is available daily for the most popular local tours of Joburg. The staff can assist you with a Kruger Park Tour, Victoria Falls or Chobe National Park tours. We are a Baz Bus stop and just waiting to welcome you. ... more   less 

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing