Arnott's Lodge & Hiking
98 Apapane Rd, Hilo, HI 96720
We've stayed in the 'deluxe' rooms at Arnotts twice, January and November 2004. First room was aircon (although we didn't need it much) in a building with five other rooms and an excellent shared kitchen/lounge area with a big pile of books. Second room no aircon but much bigger, also shared kitchen although no-one else around in our section. Both had private shower/wc rooms, all linen and towels supplied etc.
yes, the furniture is either cheap or second-hand and the carpets are not in their first youth but so what? The beds are certainly very comfortable and everything works. Towels were huge and fluffy, nothing like the tiny Waikiki versions!
No TVs on site except one in the communal area tuned to CNN, internet access, laundry, 'emergency' food supplies available. The lodge is a good two miles from town through the port and industrial areas so it is best if you rent a car; book ahead as Hilo Airport can and does run out of cars. Also good to bring food for your first night as last check-in is 8pm. After that Safeway and other big stores available outside town (not walking distance), look out for horrifying Big Island prices.
Arnotts is a hostel so you must make your own bed, take out your own trash, carry your own luggage, check-in by 8pm, check-out by 10am and do your own washing-up. At $65 a night for these excellent rooms that is fine with me. Area is quiet but neighbours very friendly, don't leave things in your car but tell me where that doesn't apply in Hawaii?
can't speak for 'dorm' areas but these deluxe rooms are great, and considerably cheaper than anywhere else I could find on Big Island.