First of all, I want to say that I had an amazing time in China and Hutong School was a great help for me as a China newbie. Therefore I can recommend the program for everyone who will visit/live in China for the first time.
The contact with Hutong School was quick and friendly. All my questions before coming to China were answered so I wasn't worried getting on a plane to China. Airport pickup worked well and I was brought to my apartment directly before getting the police registration done and have a short introduction at the school. The school is located at a convenient location in Beijing (Sanlitun) I think the prices of Hutong School are a bit high. But they take all the hassle of organizing a stay in China off your hands so it was worth it for me. They are a professional and trustworthy organization so you don't have to worry to pay the deposit for the program upfront. I read a bad review which I found via Google beforehand and was a little bit worried. However, don't believe the review that says that Hutong School is a scam because it isn't. All Hutong School students I have met and talked to would recommend the program.
The Mandarin classes were always great fun. The group size was always really small, usually between 2 and 4 students. I had classes with two different teachers during my stay. The first one was really nice and also taught us a lot of small talk which was useful for every day life and small talk but wasn't in the textbook. The second teacher was very nice too but didn't have the same English proficiency like the first one which made it harder to ask questions and clear things up when needed. What I didn't like was the textbook they used for beginners. I think the structure doesn't make sense and slowed down my learning progress. I have seen better textbooks for beginners which I used afterwards to review my Mandarin skills when I got back home after my stay in China. Also, if you take part in the internship program or you have a job in China the time for studying Chinese is very limited. I had classes late at night which was tiring because you are exhausted from your day in the office and the hot weather in Beijing. The students should be aware that the learning progress is limited if you only take evening classes. Friends of mine who took the intensive program at Hutong School had an incredibly fast progress in their Mandarin skills, simply because they had all day to study and practice. So really think about your priorities before choosing one of the programs.
Like with every internship it can either be a valuable experience or you are used as a cheap helper for the tasks nobody else wants to do. It is the same with the internships Hutong School finds for you. I had a great internship with interesting and challenging tasks and supporting managers who really made sure that I learn something during my internship. However, I also heard from many other Hutong School students that they had boring jobs and sat around all day. I think Hutong School only has a limited influence on which tasks are assigned to interns within the individual companies. So it is also up to you to ask in the first Skype interview with the company what your tasks will be and how they see the role of interns in general. I think the value of the internship also always depends on the length of the stay. However, Hutong School always offers to find another company for you if you are not happy. Or you can still decide to do the intensive Chinese program. All in all, the internship staff of Hutong School is always very encouraged to find the best fit for you and make you happy.
It is simple but works well. All apartments are located central so you can get around quickly. You definitely pay more with the program than finding an apartment yourself. But you also don't have to deal with landlords, internet companies, repair service, etc. If you have a problem you call Hutong School and they fix it for you. It is all very simple and hassle free!
Probably one of the best things about Hutong School. From the first day you are not alone in China. You meet people from around the world so quickly: your flat mates, your class mates, other Hutong School students from hanging and going out together...
Hutong School also organizes many cultural activities and trips to other places in China. It is a great opportunity to meet other students of the school and make new friends while learning something about China.
I can recommend Hutong School to everyone who goes to China for the first time. They eliminate all the hassle (and therefore fear) of going and living in China. The only downside is the price of the program. It is really expensive! They do a good job and they want to earn money too. But with some China experience and language skills you can also organize a lot of things yourself. For me it was always a dream to go to China, therefore it was worth the price. But if you have been to China before and have some experience you can also risk the adventure of organizing it yourself and saving a lot of money. For "China beginners" it is a great program to get a first impression of an amazing country without having to worry about anything!