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“Good hostel, if noisy” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hostelling International San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf

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Hostelling International San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
Fort Mason, Building 240, San Francisco, CA 94123   |  
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Free Breakfast, Free View
Durham, North Carolina
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Good hostel, if noisy”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2014

My friend and I stayed at HI-SF for 3 nights after she flew in from Australia. The location is literally right on the bay in the Marina District with a view of Alcatraz in front and the Golden Gate to your left. Can't beat that! Room was small but private, but the bunk beds need a ladder rather than trying to scale the side. Also more than 1 electrical outlet would be nice as most people travel with at least a cell phone these days and often more than 1 electrical device. The free breakfast was really good, a lot more than I'd expect from a hostel! The bathrooms were clean and I never had to wait for a shower. Free parking, which is a rare and precious thing in San Fran. They offered free bag hold service when we arrived way before check-in, front desk staff was courteous and prompt in addressing our request for a hairdryer, towels, and an extra blanket for our room.

Only complaint was the noise. We were in a room close next to the lobby and public wifi area and even though quiet hours are posted it was noisy in there with people yakking loudly well past 10pm and the front desk, which is right next to the room did not tell them to quiet down. In fact, people at the front desk were among the loudest talkers in the evenings. We could clearly hear the whole conversation from down the hall. If your own staff won't enforce quiet hours, why bother posting them?

Room Tip: Book early and keep in mind this is a hostel, not a hotel. You will be sharing bathrooms and public...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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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272 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (41)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
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  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
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English first
New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2014

We were there for alternative spring break for 9 nights total. Don't expect much from here, even though I like the location. Most of their room is hostel style double bed. For hitch hiker and cheaper traveler, it would be the best option. Bathroom and toilet are not clean (okkay, it works fine and they clean them everyday but its an old building with old setup). I like their location. Its marvelous. Very close to Pier 39 and public bus. The back of the hostel connect directly to a passerby road which crossed through the park and end at pier 39 market. Well, among those 9 nights only one night we had to park a bit away from the hostel near the main entrance otherwise we always got the parking. Umm.. As its a cheap hostel we should not expect fancy breakfast. But honestly, I loved it. not bad actually.
they have washer and dryer. Front desk people are very helpful.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2014

To paraphrase a 1970s movie theme song, “Where do I begin..?” To tell the story, that is, of a stay at a previously beloved venue which has now devolved into a rude awakening? I first stayed here in August of 2001, one month before the horrific attacks upon the U.S.A. It was a quieter time, perhaps more genteel, certainly more mannerly. Now, not so much. Most of the staff encountered were, if not discourteous, taciturn, curt, terse and/or totally – and I do mean 100% - disrespectful. Which makes those who shine seem even more the exception than the majority rule. If you can find one.

Upon my arrival, I was checked-in by Josh, was thorough, professional and well-mannered. Joining him at the front desk was Will, whose scowl was the first thing I saw when I entered the lobby. I had last stayed here in November of last year and do not recall having had the misfortune of meeting Will, though I am told he is “one of the longest serving” employees. Of course, longevity of service does not necessarily translate into good service. It just means that less competent individuals hang on through self-preservation tactics. And so, after checking in and making my bed, and asking another guest to get off my bed, where she had ensconced herself, I was a bit peckish. I walked over to Café Franco, perused the menu and ordered a bowl of the mushroom barley soup, with dinner roll.

I assume the soup needed to be heated, most likely by microwave, as I waited seven (7) minutes for its delivery. The young woman behind the counter offered to bring meals to others, but not me. Not sure why, except that maybe I am not… ‘cool’? Whatever the case may be, the soup eventually arrived, piping hot. I sat down at the long counter which overlooks the bay and prepared to enjoy myself at the end of a long day. The soup was watery, thin and tasteless. It had none of the brawn and thickness associated with other incarnations of this classic. Salt helped, but it should have been better made initially. Then came the surprise, much like finding a needle in a haystack: a small twig, literally, in the broth. NOT an herb, as was insisted upon by the café’s kitchen staff. NOT Thyme, Rosemary or anything resembling edible vegetable matter. A piece of wood, a small stem-like thing. Seems that the soups are made elsewhere. I inquired about this because I am sort of careful about what I put into my mouth, which excludes yard detritus.

I then walked to the front desk, where sat Will, lording over his domain, that being a lonely lobby bereft of anyone. So I deigned approach. I showed him the twig, and asked about sanitary conditions in the café. Well, Will apparently misunderstood what I said, thinking I had uttered something about his mother’s lineage. That is the only explanation which seems logical, as he took off on a tear about how fortunate I was to be able to eat at the café, and that it had some of the best food on SF – seriously, he said this – and that I was a horse’s rear for suggesting otherwise. This he did not say outright, but I got the message. He was hostile, offensive, insulting, and everything else which makes one a societal pariah. Except that Will ain’t one. He is a crybaby, a whiner. I wondered, Why?

The next morning, I asked to see Michael, the manager of the entire facility. He came outside with me, exhibiting a gruff demeanor which almost softened when I presented him with not just facts but also a comment by one of his own staff members, who told me that Will was “pissy” because his schedule had been changed. Poor Will, he has a job and that ain’t good enough. Michael at first offered to refund my $3 for the tree-themed soup. In the end, he refunded $40 for one night of my stay. But he owed me more. And not money. He owed me and all other guests the guarantee of a safe, secure and INVITING place to stay for my money. I have stayed here for 13 years and this is the worst staff I have ever encountered. I say this because later that day, upon my return from work, I saw that I was being treated by other staff members with contempt and disdain. Questions went unanswered, front desk personnel stared at me as I stood in the lobby conversing or reading literature. And Phillip, another Dale Carnegie graduate, literally threw items onto the counter in my direction when I had to change rooms. That is, he threw – NOT HANDED TO ME, like a normal person would – my receipt, room card and driver’s license. Seems Phillip and Will are friends as well as co-workers and thus Phillip was going to crap on me while his good friend sat at the counter smiling. Nice adult behavior.

Also, the place itself was dirty, strewn with garbage which staff literally stepped over instead of picking up. Papers, used cups and ice cream containers with stained spoons, filthy microwaves, hot food containers in dorm rooms, contradicting house rules. Myriad things which should are easily correctable, but weren’t. The supposed intertwined cultures of hostel-staying and San Francisco are no longer evident here. In fact, Hostelling International, as a whole, has seen a decline in recent years in all areas of hostel management, especially staff. And this evident here, where I once left my heart. Now, I just left, disgusted.

BTW: Why does no one greet anymore? No, “Hello!”, “God morning!” or anything akin to being a civil, hospitality worker? Perhaps Will and Phil are now teaching their own technique of how to greet guests: The heck with 'em.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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Vancouver, Canada
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2014

I was here for 3 days during June , The front desk was super helpful, The location was conveniently close to transit and you can take your morning walk anywhich way either to the warf or towards the golden gate . The dorms were clean, but the only problem was the foam mattresses , not the most comfortable . they had a complimentary breakfast to kickstart your day. What i loved the most was the view from the kitchen , it over looks the bay area, alactraz and the golden gate. I arrived on a Fri night and there was a weekly event on at fort mason, with drinks and food trucks. The HI had an event of their own - a walking tour on Sat morning for which you could sign up for.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
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Geelong, Australia
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2014

Our ideal for holiday accommodation is a clean room within a well maintained facility, close to public transport, ideally in a pleasant location, and at modest cost. The HI at Fisherman’s Wharf ticked all of those boxes. The quiet park-like location and views over the Golden Gate Bridge were a delight, and easy and pleasant walks in various directions gave ready access to a variety of options for public transport, including the cable cars. Staff were friendly and helpful, and Pasta Night on one of our stays made for a cheap but tasty meal. Kitchen facilities were excellent. As a couple we missed having an en-suite, and our room was basic, but the significant plusses more than compensated for those minor minuses. Tariffs for what is essentially a central city location were very reasonable. As a bonus there was a great selection of 1960s music in the jukebox in the kitchen!

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Top Contributor
180 reviews 180 reviews
40 hotel reviews
Reviews in 64 cities Reviews in 64 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 6, 2014

I stayed here for 2 weeks by myself to train for Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. I loved it so much I booked another 2 weeks next year.

Here's the pro's and why I give it 5 stars:
1. The location is the best in San Francisco. You are right on the water (I was in one of the 2 private rooms) so the views in the back rooms are fantastic, looking right at Alcatraz.
2. You are NOT in the commercial part of Fisherman's Wharf. You can walk to all the touristy stuff but you're not staying in the craziness. Your really in the Marina.
3. There is free parking (parking is impossible in San Francisco) but the location is so great you will never need your car.
4. The staff is young and upbeat and there are a lot of them.
5. They have lots of activities that are either free or practically free, perfect if you are on a budget or traveling solo.
6. Very Safe
7. Great kitchen where you can cook and store your food. Communal but very clean with a pool table and outdoor eating space.
8. Free and strong internet.
9. If you time it right there is a place to do laundry (you must go right at 4 when the staff has finished using it to wash the sheets and towels).
10, The Price is unbeatable and if you are planing to taking a group or large family on a budget this is perfect.

Things to consider (or Cons):
1. Even if you spring for the private room, you share a bathroom with everyone. So during "rush hour" you may need to wait for a shower. In saying that, I never did but my schedule was to shower in the afternoon after training. I had the bathroom to my self. If you wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom it's sort of a pain.
2. Considering how many people are coming through this place I found it to be very well maintained and clean. The building itself is old and historic and can't be changed, so some of the negative reviews reflect that. Either you're into the history or you're not.
3. Because Hostels take in travelers from everywhere (which is part of the experience) sometimes there are guests that can be difficult or not as considerate. There were 2 nights out of 14 that people were very loud. But they have earplugs (especially if you stay in the dorm).

Room Tip: Try to get a private if you can. Sleeps 2 people. Back views are the best
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lucerne, Switzerland
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2014

this hostel is located in a parc next to the golden gate bridge. the staff is really nice and heldful. the rooms are clean and a tasty breakfast is included. only the matrazes are too soft and it is a little expensive.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hostelling International San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf

Address: Fort Mason, Building 240, San Francisco, CA 94123
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > San Francisco
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 47 Specialty Lodging in San Francisco
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 172
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Stay in a National Park overlooking the Bay at San Francisco's first and best hostel! Both shared and private rooms available, cafe serving three meals/day plus free continental breakfast, free parking, free WiFi, DSL Internet lounge, fully equipped guest kitchen, game room, free linens and towels, daily housekeeping, keycard security, free/low-cost daily activities and tours, and no curfews, chores, or lockouts. In a beautiful park setting near North Beach, Pier 39, and cable cars. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hostelling International San Francisco Fisherman`s Wharf Hotel San Francisco

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