Seems like I'm losing my knack for finding good hostels, because this place was dull as batpoo. Very nice building and all, but hardly any kind of common hangout area, and almost nobody else around to meet and do stuff with. The best word to describe this place would be: sterile. Sorry, Lonely Planet, but you've let me down again. Maybe the ones further down the list for each city are the better ones. Anyway, next time I come to Oaxaca, I'm staying somewhere else.
This place is nice, but it has some serious shortcomings. It's definitely not the partygoer's hostel: after 10pm (yes, 10pm — ridiculously early!), they lock the front door, and you have to bang on it for up to a minute to get back in. The crowd was nice when I was here; but I heard that the crowd is much better over at the Backpacker's Hostel. I should have gone there instead; although I was happy with somewhere a bit quieter, I still like a good vibrant community. This time, Lonely Planet recommendations, you let me down.
This hostel has the best communal set-up, and hence the best communal atmosphere, of anywhere I've stayed so far. The central courtyard, which dominates the place, houses a long row of tables, a few hammocks, a deluxe (and used-by-all) kitchen, and a bar. I met some great people here, and felt that I could really unwind as well.
This place, the no. 1 youth hostel in Playa Del Carmen, has its advantages and its disadvantages. Its plusses are: its location (middle of town, across from the beach); and the people you can meet there. Its minuses are: the lack of space (really cramped dorms, and a twisting spiral staircase); and the cost (cheap for Playa, but overpriced for what you get). If you can handle the minuses, it's a great place to stay.
This wasn't the best hostel I've stayed at so far (in terms of comfort and value), but it is the one that I've most enjoyed staying at. This place has a rough, outdoor feel to it: people can choose to sleep in hammocks in the back yard; taking a shower involves getting cosy with several hundred sleeping mosquitoes; and the leafy abundance gives the place a resort / hippie-retreat feel. This hostel itself is, in my opinion, one of the top attractions of Mérida.