As I am typing this, I am almost 2 months through a 5 month intensive language program at Hutong in Shanghai. Like many people reading this review, I was once searching the internet trying to decide which language school would be the best for me. I can confidently say that Hutong was undoubtedly the right choice among all the school options.
First, and most importantly, my Mandarin teacher is simply exceptional. She is incredibly patient with every student and knows proper teaching techniques to help us develop our Mandarin. It is easy to tell that she truly cares about my classmates and I. She dedicates herself to making sure we understand everything that she is teaching, which is crucial for such a difficult language like this. Also, her schedule is very flexible too, which is a huge benefit for us students. I came to Shanghai with absolutely zero knowledge of the language. After nearly two months, my Mandarin has substantially improved to the point where I feel confident in my ability to make it through the every day interactions with the local people using only what I've learned. I'm still excited to figure out how much more I can master in another 3 months.
The staff at Hutong are exceptional. They are a close-knit group who are very easily accessible, if you need it, and are very friendly. They organize a few events every week, which helps with getting to meet other students in the school. Some examples of the events they organize are KTV (karaoke) nights, welcome parties at a bar, archery in the evening, Mahjong lessons, and more. I would highly recommend these events, as it is probably the best way to meet the wonderful staff and other students.
Perhaps the only thing I would mark Hutong down for are the apartments. While I can't speak for every student's living situation, the bedroom I started off in was quite small. There was barely enough room for a bed, a closet, and a dresser. The other bedrooms in my apartment were quite larger though. Because every student is on a different schedule here, I think I got lucky, as a couple of my original roommates returned back home, so I was able to move into a larger room. Don't let this deter you from Hutong though. The apartment itself was more than suitable and my roommates have become some of my closest friends here. Hutong has hired a maid to come to each apartment and clean it a couple times a week as well. If there is an issue with your living situation, just contact the staff and they can probably move you into another apartment if you wish. Besides, you shouldn't even be in your room that much when in a large city like Shanghai!
Overall, you'd be doing yourself a favor by choosing Hutong. I can't imagine that a better Mandarin school even exists. Hutong has greatly exceeded all of my expectations. They definitely really do care about your progress with the language and your comfort in the city.