Decent budget accommodation in San Diego appears to be hard to come by. As I didn't have a car, I decided to stay centrally, as bus services (particularly from Point Loma) are limited. Hostel on 3rd was by far the cheapest downtown option, yet seemed to have good reviews (the two are, in my experience, usually mutually exclusive).
This place is good value for money. For what you pay, you can't expect to be blown away, but I have stayed in worst places at higher expense. Hostel on 3rd is located in the Gaslamp Quarter (a lively area at night - lots of bars and restaurants in the vicinity). I wasn't particularly keen on the area, to be honest - it's commercial and lacks character, and if you're not there to take advantage of the San Diego nightlife, it doesn't really have much to offer. It is convenient for public transport, though - both the Greyhound and Amtrak stations are within walking distance and you can get the #992 bus to and from the airport. The hostel is situated away from the bulk of the noise. The common area - which includes a pool table, TV and patio seating area - is in a separate building to the dorms and closes at midnight. The wifi worked well in both the common area and the bedroom.
My 6-bed dorm was on the small side (which meant that suitcases and other personal belongings were strewn all over the floor), and a little hot. There were no reading lights. The bed was comfortable though, and I slept fine. There are several restrooms, although only one had a power outlet (which made drying my hair in the mornings a bit awkward), and they were generally clean. Possibly because of its price and location, most people staying here were pretty young (I'm pretty sure I was the only person over 30), and there were a mix of nationalities.
One complaint I have about this place is that the kitchen is too small. Breakfast times were particularly awkward because there would never be anywhere to sit (I had to eat my cereal on the stairs) and I decided not to bother cooking dinner again after having to wait ages to use the facilities. The other issue with the kitchen is that it was used as a gathering space after the main common area closed. My room was directly opposite, and it got very noisy. One night I had to ask the offending party to keep it down, and was very surprised to see two of them sat behind the reception desk the next day.
Another thing I wasn't so keen on is the fact that the doors to each dorm are propped open between 12.00 and 4.00pm each day, presumably to give the rooms an airing. The front door has a key code, which is great, but I wouldn't have thought it completely beyond the realms of possibility that another guest would see it as an opportunity to have a discreet rummage in a neighbouring room, especially if someone - not being aware of the policy - left something valuable on display. There are lockers available outside the room (you need to bring your own padlock or buy one at the front desk), but they're very small and certainly wouldn't fit a standard size laptop.
Other than that, this place is pretty decent as hostels go. I'd recommend it for a short stay.
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