Advantages great for socialising
Disadvantages the surrounding clubs
|Value for Money|
|Quality of Rooms|
|Standard of Service|
|Quality of Food & Drink|
|Quality of Facilities|
As far as hostels go… it is safe to say that this is probably one of the best out there, it is certainly the best that I have ever stayed at and as far as atmosphere and socialising go. I would even go as far to say that based upon these elements, it is better than staying in a hotel! It knows travellers very well, it knows what makes backpackers tick and it serves it up on a plate for its residents, literally!I think that hostels sometimes have a bit of a stigma attached to them, that they are not great places to stay. This is definitely the perception that I had of hostels after staying at a disastrous few in the past. However my opinion was certainly swayed by staying at this hostel in San Francisco.
I came across the hostel on hostelworld.com, we decided to stay in this hostel as most of the hotels in San Francisco were either booked up or far too expensive at the time which we were there due to it being labour day weekend. We looked at various reviews of the hostel before booking it and we found it to have a very good reputation. It was almost as a last resort that we decided to stay here as it was rather expensive for a hostel, we had stayed at some hotels for a lot cheaper. However, it is easy to forget that San Francisco is the 6th most expensive city in the whole of America and therefore we had to settle with the fact that this expensive hostel maybe was in fact quite inexpensive by San Francisco standards.After the initial booking of the hotel, I received an e-mail from the owners which was very helpful and pleasant. The e-mail described details of the booking which I had made and also helpful information about how to get to the hostel. I e-mailed back and asked for specific directions from where we were getting dropped off in San Francisco to the hostel and they e-mailed me back very quickly with clear directions. I liked the hostel before we even arrived!
As we approached the hostel to check in I didn’t feel very confident in its location. It is situated in China Town which sounds lovely however it was the more seedy end of China Town. It was basically on the same road as all the major strip clubs in San Francisco. There were a lot of dodgy characters about and I felt a bit worried as we walked down the street to the entrance. I felt a bit better on seeing numerous travellers coming in and out of the hostel, some of which helped us up the stairs with our heavy cases. The hostel is in a very large building, which seemed to be very historical.Check in was very casual, we paid up the full balance for the room in which we were staying in and a $15 key deposit. The girls at ‘reception’ were very helpful and friendly. The hostel was very young and it showed this in its hippy/rock and roll decorative style. There were fish on the reception desk along with free fruit, lots of leaflets and a sign up sheet for a $10 massage.
To the left of reception was the dining hall/ social room. This room was very large and had beautiful church like windows. There was also a kitchen in here which was very big and had lots of utilities for guests to use. There was a lot of storage space available to keep food and to cook and there was even a free food shelf. We were told that every other night the hostel provided a free dinner for its guests and if you helped to cook then you would receive a free bottle of wine! There was also free rice available at lunch times and a free breakfast every day! The breakfast consisted of bagles, English muffins, eggs, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, juice and anything else you wanted to cook! The hostel really knew what travellers, travelling on a budget, would appreciate and it accommodated them very well.We were staying in a four bunk bed room on the third floor. It was definitely hard work having to get up to this floor without the help of an elevator! The room was very small but it was clean and it was what I expected of a hostel. Like I said previously, in comparison to other hostels I have stayed at in the past it was divine! The room was very basic, they supplied bedding and there was a $1 charge to hire a towel. There was under bed storage available for which you could get a padlock for from the reception in order to have peace of mind that your belongings were safe. I did not feel that this was necessary however as the doors had a heavy lock on them and I just kept all of my valuables with me at all times.
The bathroom situation, hmmm. There were no rooms with en-suites available or else we would have paid extra for this so we had to share bathroom facilities with the hundreds of other residents. After all, we should have gone to a hotel if we were that desperate for a private bathroom. This was the worst part of staying at the hostel for me. The bathrooms were always very clean and luckily the other residents were very clean and respected the communal bathrooms. However for me, having to take my make up and nip across the hallway after having a shower is just not fun. Also having to queue to go for a wee isn’t fun, however it was part of the experience and it could have been a lot worse. I remember one time I stayed in a hostel which wasn’t as half as clean as this one and we had to put 20p in the shower for it to work and my money ran out half way through shampooing my hair and I had no more change to wash it out!There was a laundry room available for use at the hostel at a small charge of a few dollars. The machines only accepted quarters however there was a change machine available in the reception. The machines were very easy to use, it felt like being back at uni halls! Detergent was also available to buy from reception for $1. I did use these facilities , the only problem being that people put in their laundry and then failed to collect it once the cycle had finished so there was a bit of waiting around.
Other facilities at the hostel included a sauna, rather random indeed. I did not use the sauna as there was quite a long waiting list as it was free to use. There was also a room dedicated to computers which were free to use, all internet enabled, and tourist information about the city. There was also one computer with a webcam dedicated to users who wanted to Skype. There was also a cash machine, which did charge for withdrawals, like most of American ATMs. There were also quite a few phones which took coins or phone cards, a few of them were out of order however when we visited.I felt very safe staying at the hostel, despite its rather strange location. Guests of residents were not allowed in the hostel therefore everyone who was there was a paying customer. Also on entering the hotel you had to show your key to reception so that they knew you were a resident.
The hostel is in partnership with a travel company who do tours to surrounding cities and national parks, such as Yosemite. Residents of the hotel were offered a very good deal and if I had been staying there I would have definitely invested on one of the trips.There was a large variety of people staying at the hostel from all over the world. The dining room at night turned into a communal area where you could drink and after 9pm smoke. There were vending machines for snacks and drinks, live music and a pool table. The hostel would put on events on different nights, such as beer events and pub crawls. The hostel would have been perfect for a lone traveller as it was very easy to make friends and socialise.
When it came to leave the hostel we handed in our bedding and checked out of the hostel. We received back our $15 deposit for the keys and waited for the airport shuttle. The previous day we had booked an airport shuttle through the hostel, at a very reasonable price of $14.Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at this hostel and if I ever go back to San Francisco I would definitely stay there again. We paid about $20 a night each, which overall was quite reasonable I think. The hostel is a great base for staying in the centre of the city and it was within good walking distance of a lot of attractions. The hostel also offers good deals on trips to Alcatraz, which is a must see when in San Fran. As are the seals on Pier 39 and you must try the deliciously fresh seafood available! Not forgetting the Golden Gate Bridge!
From the hostel it took about 15 minutes to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and about 5 minutes to walk to the Italian area which holds some amazing restaurants and bars. Also being in the centre of the city it is a good place to soak up a lot of atmosphere and to get a good feeling for the city. I wouldn’t recommend walking around late at night however as the street which the hostel is on does attract a lot of attention due to the strip clubs. If the hostel had been on a more friendly street then it would definitely add further to its credit. The great hills of San Francisco and the trams make up for it though.The website for the hostel is http://www.greentortoise.com/san-francisco-hostel/index.php
If you are travelling to the city, either alone or with friends then definitely check it out, it will make your stay very memorable.Thanks for reading!
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