I stayed at Hostelling International on Mason Street for a week in March this year. I chose this hostel primarily for its location, and I wasn’t disappointed. The hostel is situated smack bang in the bustling heart of downtown San Francisco.
I booked a private room in the hostel, with a shared bathroom. The room itself was certainly nothing to do cartwheels about, but as I was staying in a hostel I knew not to expect the Hilton, and so didn’t really have a problem with it. The room had a bunk bed, a sink with a mirror above it, and a locker that was more than large enough to store my luggage in. The only real complaint I have about the room is that the door wasn’t particularly easy to open, which became annoying very quickly.
As for the rest of the hostel, it was neat, homely and well-organized. The breakfast room, which served breakfast from 8am to 10am, had more than enough fresh food for everyone (including fruit) and the room itself was nice and bright, had a pleasant atmosphere, and was buzzing with travellers from all over the world. There was a different activity to take part in every day at the hostel, from bike riding to bar crawling, but during my stay I only took part in one – beer tasting, which offered guests the opportunity to sample the local beers. It was fun and informative, and the staff member who hosted the activity was funny and likeable. In fact I had no problems with any of the staff I encountered during my stay, most were friendly and helpful.
When I checked out of the hostel, I left feeling satisfied that I’d had a pleasant stay. It was only when I got home that I realized that it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I’d originally thought. I arrived back in the UK on March 30th. Just over a week later, when I checked my bank statement, I was shocked to discover that someone in the US had used my card details on April 10th, spending £46. I immediately phoned my bank, only to discover that someone had also tried to spend a further £500 of my money, but luckily the bank successfully blocked the transaction before it went through and cancelled my card. When I asked them if they could tell me where exactly in the US my details were used (I travelled to L.A too) they told me, without hesitation, San Francisco.
Now of course it’s possible that someone stole my details in L.A and then travelled to San Francisco to use them, but it’s much more likely that my details were stolen in San Francisco while I was there. And as my bank statement from that month shows, the ONLY place in San Francisco that I used my card was within the hostel. I used it once at check-in to pay for my stay, I used it a few times in the computer room (you have to swipe your card to use the computers) and once at the cash machine by the front desk. I should add that my card was in my possession at all times. Looking back, I suspect that there was probably some kind of scamming device on one of the machines that I used. A more worrying possibility of course is that a member of staff stole my information from the system, but I like to think that wasn’t the case.
When I asked my bank if I should contact the hostel, they advised me against it and assured me, after I’d filled out a form, that the police would now investigate the matter. The only problem with these investigations is the victim is never told the outcome, so five months later I’m none the wiser as to who was actually responsible.
As quite a forgiving guy, I originally had no intention of writing this review. It was only recently when I told a friend what had happened that they convinced me that I should, and that I had a duty to in case this kind of thing happens to anyone else. So for anyone thinking of staying at this hostel, I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t, because overall I had a pleasant stay there, I’m just reminding you to be very vigilant and careful about where exactly you use your card.
Happy travelling ;-)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Stay in the heart of the city, just one block from Union Square and steps from Chinatown and the cable cars! HI-San Francisco Downtown is close to the best cafes, clubs, theaters, and shopping. You'll love our new look, low prices, and four-bed dorms (coed dorms range from 4-8 beds). Free continental breakfast, free WiFi, DSL Internet, guest kitchen, free linens and towels, daily housekeeping, free/low-cost daily activities and tours, 24-hour reception, and no curfews, chores, or lockouts. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Priceline, Booking.com and TripOnline SA so you can book your Hostelling International- San Francisco/ Downtown reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Hostelling International- San Francisco/ Downtown Hotel San Francisco