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“Back to Basics” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hostelling International-Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel

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Hostelling International-Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel
210 Pigeon Point Road, Pescadero, CA 94060   |  
Hotel amenities
Holte, Denmark
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Back to Basics”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

Spend an afternoon, night and morning in the lighthouse in July with wife and three kids. The setting on the cliffy coast is romantic and impressing. With harsh weather conditions it could surely be exciting or almost scary. At least if you imagine being a sailor in old days approaching the coast in a small vessel…

Buildings and facilities are authentic. They could without much correction frame a movie pretending to be from the 70s. They invite to reflection without all the noises and modern conveniences you find other places. And this said, it should be added that the hygiene is OK and you find what you need for eating, bathing and sleeping. Back to basics. Staff was welcoming and relaxed. Really aligned with the general atmosphere.

Great to make a run or a walk on the beach. Youngest Kid, Emil, managed to get wet shoes. Big laugh. Better than many experiences bought for money other places on our three week trip in wonderful California.

Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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75 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
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English first
2 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2012

My hubs and I stayed in the "Whale" cottage in a private room with a shared bathroom(only option at this hostel which could possibly be an issue if everyone wanted to shower around the same time but wasn't an issue for us). This unit was really close to the cliff which was awsome because you could hear the waves crashing below. There was a storm earlier that day so the water was rough. An extremely relaxing place to be. We stayed on a Wednesday night so, it was very quite there. We did use the shared kitchen. The 3, younger travelers staying in our building were still asleep so, we had kitchen/dining area to ourselves. If you drink coffee or tea, bring your own(they do have coffee in the office that opens at 8 am and were willing to make us some if we wanted). The night we stayed, we ate at Duarte's Tavern(artichoke soup was delicious and my hubs loved his snapper too)shopped at Angelica's Grocery Store in Pescadero(7 min drive)for our late evening snack(artichoke and garlic bread and locally produced goat cheese with dried apricots and pistachios and hubs talked the Mexican restraunt into selling him(probably something they don't usually do)some of their fresh, hot & spicy salsa($2 for a cup full)for the tortilla chips we bought at the store and breakfast items: fresh baked cinnamon rolls and fruit). A huge stem of fresh picked brussel sprouts was only $2-$4 which we would've bought had we not eaten at Duarte's already. We used bottled water to make Oolong tea in the morning. Alcohol is prohibited there(probably due to insurance issues from being so close to the edge of the land, the hot tub and the steps surrounding it and possibly the bunk beds in each room...I'm not sure though). The hot tub and it's changing room and bathroom in the "Whale" cottage/building could use some updating but it's not that big of a deal. The hot tub was nice and hot(lovely hearing the waves crashing below, just romantic and lovely!) Expect to change your sheets with clean ones(they provide)before you checkout and clean up after yourselves(kitchen, bathroom, etc). Obviously, this was our first hostelling experience(by the way, non-HI members pay an extra $3/person/stay). We really found peace there and would definately stay again. So, start planning, don't miss out on this experience of a lifetime, enjoy!

Room Tip: Closest to the edge of the cliff is the "whale" cottage and the private room in that unit...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2012

Stayed in August 2011
Location is just amazing.
It is a hostel so do not expect any kind of luxury. We stayed in a private room which was clean, there was a nice shared living room and a big enough kitchen that all the persons staying there could eat breakfast at the same time.
The atmosphere, the little houses on the cliff, the lighthouse all that made our stay very special.
Note, it is kind of the middle of nowhere, so do you grocery shopping in advance and don't plan to eat in a restaurant nearby... when we arrived in was really foggy so we did not even try to go very far.
Front desk employees are very nice.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
Top Contributor
221 reviews 221 reviews
114 hotel reviews
Reviews in 88 cities Reviews in 88 cities
590 helpful votes 590 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2012

In July 2012 my family drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco, up Pacific Coast Highway 1. The first night we stayed in Morro Bay, then drove San Simeon/Big Sur/Monterrey, before stopping at Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel for the night, before a morning drive into San Francisco.
I found the lighthouse quite by chance while doing a google search of places to stay on Highway 1.
We visited in July on a particularly cold night with thick fog swirling around the point, and the lighthouse beams piercing through the fog above us. Very atmospheric.
The lighthouse is a bit out of the way, on the coast road from through Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, north of Santa Cruz and Monterrey. It is only about 50 miles from San Francisco. Even if they are driving the Big Sur coast route, most people driving north or south would probably take the freeway between San Francisco and Monterrey before hugging the coast. After driving all the way up the coast, I actually liked the coast road around Pescadero and the lighthouse. There is lots of beach access, lots of pull-ins and vista points, and plenty of passing lane opportunities. The coast here is quite rugged, with the odd seal and wildlife, and the land around it is rural with orchards and market gardens.
The lighthouse is very historic, being built in 1871. At 115 feet high it is the tallest lighthouse on the west coast, and is still working. It has the status of a State Park, and the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's original tiny cottage are both currently fenced off while preservation work is undertaken. There are short walks around the promontory, and interpretation about the lighthouse, seal colony on the rocks below, and the numerous shipwrecks that have occurred off the point over the past 150+ years. I gather that there is gray whale watching here between January and April. There may be guided tours during the weekends. Ask at the hostel reception.
My children were fascinated with the baby seals hidden around the rocky tidepools below the lighthouse.
Next to the lighthouse are four 3 bedroom accommodation blocks that are run as the Hosteling International Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel. Together they accommodate about 50 people.
Accommodation is definitely rustic. I had gone onto the website, and then contacted the hostel to book a "family room" for exclusive use of our family. I had thought that it would contain a master bed and bunks, with an attached ensuite bathroom. We arrived in the evening after driving from Morro Bay, and were checked into a 6 bunk dormitory - for our own exclusive use. We were provided with fresh linen and towels. There were duvet blankets and pillows already in the room. There was no ensuite bathroom - although the family in the bunk room next to us did have their own bathroom, so you might want to double check if you want to reserve the family option. I may have had second thoughts about staying if I had known that we would be in hostel bunks with shared bathroom facilities. I think I paid about $150 for the family room for the night, so it wasn't cheap.
We were staying in the Whale building, which apparently is reserved more for family use, and doesn't have mixed dorms. I gather the hostel was full the night we stayed. There were a couple of staff in the reception area . One was very helpful (Michael, I think), and a woman who was a bit curt.
We were told quite emphatically that it was not possible to leave our cars parked near the accommodation, but that they had to be parked in the public carpark on the side of the main road. When I asked if our belongings would be safe, I was assured that they would be - but the signs in the carpark quite explicitly said to remove all belongings, which we did.
The lounge and kitchen were large and well equipped, although the kitchen was a bit messy from the previous users - who did clean up their dinner utensils, but not immediately.
There were signs all over informing of a noise curfew at 11pm.
Apparently as part of our "family rate" we were given a free reservation of the outdoor hot tub/jacuzzi for 30 minutes. It is right on the end of the rocky point - but as we used it late at night, the benefit of the view was lost on us. If you are able to use the jacuzzi, get a time slot while it is still light, and prepare to use it promptly, as it is fully reserved and you only get a half hour slot. There are change facilities at the jacuzzi itself.
This is definitely an alternative option for accommodation, and one that you might fully enjoy, however you might want to consider how rustic the accommodation is. It is possibly more suited to young independent travellers, than family groups, unless you are familiar with backpacking and hostelling.

Room Tip: If you are renting a family room, ask for one with an attached bathroom
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2012

I live an hour or so from here but I love it as a break away from the city. This hostel has a functioning lighthouse. You have a amazing views out on the patio where bbq's are provided. The hostel has separate house like cottages with rooms with shared bunk beds and a communal kitchen and living room. The management has always been very friendly and helpful.Private rooms are available with reservations made in advance.
There is an awesome hot tub that overlooks the ocean and sits on the edge of the cliffs.
You can see whales outside and elephant seals at ano nuevo park. Hiking in the redwoods at Butano State park is close by. This place is no frills fun. If your expecting the Ritz go there.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2012

My partner & I have stayed in many hostels, YMCA/YWCA's, and guesthouses across North America, Europe, and Asia. More often, we camp. We are absolutely not high-maintenance travelers.

On a lark, I booked us a private room at Pigeon Point for one night this spring. It's a great time of year to be on the coast. Usually sunny, and the hills & flowers are still lush and happy.

Now...I hate to post a bad review...but our experience at the Pigeon Point hostel was honestly just 1 star. This was partly due to other hostelers, which is not the fault of the hostel, so I'm giving them 2 stars to be fair.

The private room that we stayed in (#1 in Dolphin House) was a bit shabby, but still cheerful, and it had most of the basics: sheets, pillows, extra blankets, lights, closet, night table, chair, luggage rack. No towels. You have to change the sheets yourself when you leave.

The bathroom and shower room were shared. The bathroom sink had a ridiculous push-button faucet that turns off after just a few seconds, so you need to use one hand to hold the button(s) down while you wash your other hand.

The hot tub on the cliffs is supposed to be a big attraction, but it is only available for eight 30min slots from 6-10pm, for $14/couple. If you are staying for just one night, the tub will almost certainly be fully booked before you get there. I tried to book it a couple of days in advance, but they wouldn't do it. So, don't count on the hot tub if you are staying for just one night.

The shared kitchen had a stove and sinks and good assortment of cookware & dishes.

When we came back from dinner in Pescadero, the house was full of greasy smoke. Other hostelers had been frying sausages in the kitchen, and it spread to all of the rooms. There was nothing to do, since they were done cooking. But an hour later, they started frying potstickers in rancid oil, creating another cloud of smoke that again filled the entire house. I showed them how to turn on the range fan, and open the windows. We left to walk around the lighthouse. From outside, the people in the living room were swimming in a fog of smoke. Bummer. We would've liked to hang out with fellow travelers in the living room, but it was barely breathable. That's what made it a 1-star experience. :(

You have to park in a dirt lot, around the corner from the hostel. The signs warn that you should remove all valuables from your car. You should probably remove all valuables from your room as well. A few minutes after we checked in, someone tried to open the door to our room. They claimed their key didn't work, so they were trying it on a different door. But then they left the hostel, not stopping at reception for a new key. Sketchy.

The lighthouse is falling apart, and blocked by a rusty chain-link fence, but it is beautiful at dawn and dusk and during the night, when the modern lamp sends out its six-beamed signal over the ocean.

Overall, I think it is worth staying in for a $25 bunk, but not for a $80 private room, unless you're desperate. There are MUCH better options nearby.

Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Napa, California
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2012

The Pidgeon Point Lighthouse hostel was like most hostels, with bunkbeds and communal bathroom facilities, and I think there are private rooms, but to get one of those you must make your reservation well ahead of time. There are also communal kitchen and recreational areas, but we didn't use those, as we stayed only one night, on a long coastal drive. We did take long walks at dusk and early morning, and those made the stay an outstanding stopover. There were other guests, but unlike most hostels, there was very little mingling; I think everyone else was also enjoying the setting. There are activities listed on a board, for those staying longer.

Room Tip: This isn't an option here, unless you reserve a private room well ahead of time.
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hostelling International-Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel

Address: 210 Pigeon Point Road, Pescadero, CA 94060
Location: United States > California > Pescadero
Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Pescadero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Fifty miles south of San Francisco, you can relax in a hot tub with a panoramic view of the ocean and then fall asleep gazing up at one of the tallest lighthouses in America. Perched on a coastal bluff, HI-Pigeon Point Lighthouse provides affordable shared and private accommodations in historic former lighthouse keeper's quarters. Amenities include fully equipped guest kitchens, free WiFi, and on-site parking. Nearby attractions include Pescadero Marsh and Ano Nuevo State Reserve. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hostelling International-Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hotel Pescadero

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