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“Limited hostel choices in San Francisco, this one is good enough” 3 of 5 stars
Review of San Francisco International Hostel

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San Francisco International Hostel
140 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 (SoMa)   |  
Hotel amenities
Hong Kong, China
Top Contributor
2,946 reviews 2,946 reviews
103 hotel reviews
Reviews in 126 cities Reviews in 126 cities
7,444 helpful votes 7,444 helpful votes
“Limited hostel choices in San Francisco, this one is good enough”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2012

We stayed a few nights at the San Francisco International Hostel last month, as we often like to check out the hostel scene while traveling, sort of a nostalgic memory of our past lives as backpackers. While this was not a great hostel by international standards it was functional and served its purpose, which is good enough in a city like San Francisco, which seems well short on accommodation options of this sort.

We reserved our room at the SF International Hostel a couple weeks in advance on hostels.com. Lobby area was always busy and regularly people were arriving to check if there was availability. Not sure if this hostel is this busy all of the time but judging form the scores of backpackers being turned away, it would be advisable to book early for this or any other hostel you are interested in staying at in San Francisco.

What we liked about San Francisco International Hostel:
Check in process was thorough, staff members were friendly at all times and they insisted on mandatory room key checks for all people entering the building - they took building security quite seriously while we were there. We liked the large common room with plenty of tables and two TVs showing the news, seemingly around the clock. Also, in the morning, there free pancake batter for all staying at the hostel. There were inadequate pans, burners as well as cleaning/drying provisions for the number of people trying to use the kitchen but the gesture was nice. Plus, if you wake early, there was no congestion in the kitchen. Also, the free coffee and tea station was nice.

Rooms were as expected, beds moderately comfortable and door lock was solid, at least to our room. Location close to Union Square was nice (although there were too many undesirable types wandering outside the hostel in the early morning). Hostel was also within 5-minute walk from the Powell Street BART station, making it a convenient transfer location from San Francisco International Airport.

What we didn't care for so much
As mentioned, there were some interesting characters walking the streets in this area at times. If you are used to this, it won't bother you and is something you just have to get used to in places like San Francisco, especially on and around Market Street.

As expected the room walls were thin, meaning you could hear a lot going on in the room next to ours. Savvy backpackers and travellers will have earplugs so this doesn't have to be a problem.

Next, we found there the hostel to be quite short on electric outlets, which is quite important these days. In our room the only plug was located behind one of the bottom bunk beds, which was occupied the entire time we stayed so we felt quite uncomfortable trying to get to it. Each floor had a couple of outlets in the hall and the ground floor kitchen/common area had a few additional plug outlets to make up for the shortage in the rooms.

Our other gripe would be that hostel is inadequately equipped with toilets. Seems there is one single toilet on most floor, which is not really appropriate considering the number of rooms, each with 4-6 beds located on each level. Considering the hostel for full up each night we stayed, this was not convenient.

Overall, this hostel has its flaws and is not cheap. However, being in SF, your options are limited and most hostels might be full up anyway. In the end, we found the San Francisco International Hostel to be good enough and made a half decent stay.

Room Tip: If you wake early, you will not compete for shower space here and have most of the large kitchen/com...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    2.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (26)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
UK
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2012

Let me start by saying that yes, it is a hostel so expectations of facilities were lower. But considering that we could have stayed at a hotel nearby for a similar price there were a number of things which could be improved on.

The place was fairly run down but kept fairly clean at all times. It has 6 floors, and one very, very slow lift. Most of the time it was quicker to walk up the 6 floors then wait for the lift. The lock on the door of the room was very flimsy looking and could probably have been barged through with no problems. However, there is a locker room where all valuables can be stored.

We were in a 4 bed dorm with attached bathroom. Shower could do with more water pressure but the main problem was that the sink took so long to drain. The room was quite hot and if you opened the window at night we could hear all the noise from the street. Also, we could not get any wireless signal in our room and the beds were not very comfortable as the mattresses were so thin.

On the plus side, there was always a good atmosphere as there were so many young people, mostly British, French or German from the ones we spoke to. The lobby and downstairs areas were lively in the evenings and there was a free pool table as well as free beer every evening. The laundry machines were very cheap and did a good job.

Had no problems with the staff and the location was great, less than 10 minutes walk from Union Square.

Room Tip: Pay a bit more for one with a bathroom attached.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 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.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 12, 2012

I've stayed in way better hostels that this one, but still it isn't that bad. It's really cheap for SF and you get what you are paying for - a bed to sleep. The Wi-Fi is great you can use it in bed. I was there for 6 days, 3 of them the water presure during the day was really bad. There is women private shower on the 1 floor and common on the 3rd. They clean the rooms everyday so that's good. There is a bar with free beer. You can find cool young people there to hang around. Good location a block away from BART and 3-4 blocks from union square.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zurich, Switzerland
Top Contributor
227 reviews 227 reviews
49 hotel reviews
Reviews in 86 cities Reviews in 86 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2012 via mobile

Stayed there for a few days in SF, great location, close to downtown and cable car. We had a private dorm with own bath, nice room. Every night there's a small party with free beer and beerpong in the lobby and the basement. The people working at the hostel are all very helpful and easy-going. The valet parking done by another company is very slow.

  • Stayed August 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ABC
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2012

You like Heineken? Heineken is the best beer in the world. I grew up drinkin' Heineken. Heineken! If you like to party in your hostel, this is where you should go. Free beer every night, a party area in the basement where there's a party every single night. If you're into that, you can have a whole lot of fun in this hostel. But one shouldn't care too much about other things, because otherwise it's only average. There are a bit too few showers and restrooms, the rooms are packed and the kitchen isn't really clean. But there are free pancakes in the morning (do-it-yourself), also coffee, but that's it. Good location, close to Union Sq.
Don't be afraid of all the party-talk. It's mostly quiet in the upper stories, apart from the street noise. They have a beautiful lounge area on the second floor.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2012 via mobile

I stayed here for 3 nights in total. The rooms were average size, beds comfy, bathrooms clean, and staff very helpful. They provided free pancake mix and free beer after 10pm which is pretty good if like to party. The rooms were quiet and wi fi worked throughout the entire building so you could be online in your bed! I would recommend this hostel to any age of traveler!

  • Stayed August 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Cambridge, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2012

We came to San Francisco all the way from the UK. We had booked a room at this hostel about one month in advance. The day we booked the room we made a mistake and put the wrong day in the booking. We immediately called to tell them about it. We were told the problem had been solved and that our booking was now confirmed. We wanted a private bedroom with private toilet and shower. They said it was fine. We called again about one week before the trip, to make sure everything was fine. When we arrived there they did not have our booking. We were offered a room with shared toilet and shower facilities, which we did not accept because it was not what we had booked. We suddenly found ourselves in SF with no place where to stay. They did not bother in helping us to find another room and never gave us a refund for the booking fee (15 dollars). The entrance to the hostel and the reception looked pretty dirty. The staff was not helpful at all. We wasted time and money.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 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 San Francisco International Hostel

Address: 140 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Location: United States > California > San Francisco > SoMa
Hotel Style:
Ranked #23 of 45 Specialty lodging in San Francisco
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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