I came to Hostel Hoff in February 2015, stayed for 3 months and had the absolute best experience of my life so far. I travelled to the Hoff alone but within days I felt like part of one big ever-changing family that consisted of all the staff and volunteers at the hostel. The staff at the Hoff are absolutely wonderful people and the heart of the hostel. They'll make you feel at home and welcome from the very beginning.
During my stay, I lived for 9 weeks in Hostel Hoff 2 and 4 weeks in Hostel Hoff 1 (as we entered low season, hostel 2 was temporarily closed). Each hostel has two resident dogs, which was just brilliant by me! The two hostels are within 2 minutes walking distance of one another and just as good as one another so there is no need to worry about which one you will be placed in.
The food at the hostel is just yum. Breakfast and dinner are both served buffet-style at the hostel and there is more than enough to go around. They also cater for vegetarians, despite the fact that vegetarianism is an awful lot less common in Tanzania than it is here in Ireland.
With regards to water, each hostel has a bottled-water dispenser which you can have unlimited access to for a price of 5,000TSH per week. This is only about €2.50 per week and definitely worth it considering how much water you'll need to drink in the heat!
The volunteer placements organised by Hostel Hoff through their charity Path to Africa are with local projects and will be the most rewarding part of your stay. Almost everyone finds the first week of volunteering difficult, between the language barrier and the culture shock, but those challenges are so worth it when you start to feel at home in your project and begin to figure out what you can offer to help. I worked for 2 months at KYGN (a charity school in a nearby village) and for one month at the Juvenile Retention Centre in Moshi - two extremely different projects but both so rewarding. Though I taught at both projects, I'm sure I learned much more by working with the kids than they learned from me.
It's worth mentioning that Hostel Hoff is quite modern and definitely offers some luxuries such as a television, hot showers and western toilets. This, on top of the fact that we had two meals cooked for us each day, our clothes washed for us and our rooms cleaned each day, did make me feel a bit too pampered. However, my 3 months at the Hoff definitely allowed me to fall in love with Tanzania and it's people and I'm hoping to return as soon as I get through university, if not sooner.
Overall, I would highly recommend Hostel Hoff to anyone looking to volunteer in East Africa for the first time, as you will feel safe, supported and at home as you ease into African life. You'll also meet loads of interesting and adventurous people and make life-long friends from all over the world.