San Francisco Hostels – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sometimes they get a bad rap, but generally speaking San Francisco hostels offer surprisingly good value for money in this expensive city. Hostels have changed a lot over the years, but one thing is constant, it's a great way to travel on a teeny budget. But, beware — some hostels are better than others. These are the "others".

To be sure, you will meet people, save money, and perhaps learn something about yourself. (How do you really feel about sharing a bathroom with strangers?) Even if you don't like the idea of dorm living and shared bathrooms, the majority of San Francisco hostels also offer private rooms with a private bath. The Good? A private room in a hostel costs seriously less than a hotel room. The Bad? Keep reading…


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Amsterdam Hostel

Amsterdam Hostel

This Union Square hostel generally gets positive reviews with guests enjoying the private rooms with a comfy bed, a private bath, and their own microwave and fridge. They also relish the free pancake breakfast with strong coffee. The luggage storage is appreciated as is the stocked kitchen and clean bathrooms.

And now for the bad and the ugly. Some guests noted that only one washing machine worked and that the rooms could do with a facelift. A few beds have sink holes and feel like jello. Guests talked about a fridge that needs repair and other upgrades that are needed. Overall, the hostel feels more like a slightly run-down hotel than a true hostel. We noted that other hostels seemed to have more events and activities.

How Our Ratings Work

Superb Plus = 93%+ Travelers Rating
Superb = 88%+ Travelers Rating
Highly Rated Plus = 85%+ Travelers Rating
Highly Rated = 80%+ Travelers Rating

Rating = Barely Okay
• 749 Taylor Street
• Neighborhood — Union Square

Orange Village Hostel

Orange Village Hostel

Here's another popular Union Square area hostel. The Orange Village offers many amenities common in hostels throughout the city — continental breakfasts (including a waffle machine that's kept busy, fresh fruit, and yogurt), a convivial lounge, free laundry facilities, and luggage storage. Generally, the reviews are positive, but there are a few negative comments about noisy beds, bad coffee, and lack of bacon!

Overall, the ambience is good and guests like the central location, clean rooms, and the use of laundry facilities. There's also long-term accommodation for students and US residents (and those with the right visas). The Orange also has lots of planned events like Club Night, Pub Crawls, and Super Hero Night.

Rating = Fair Plus
• 411 O'Farrell Street
• Neighborhood — Union Square


HI – Hostelling International


Location, location, location. Spoiler alert, this hostel is in the Tenderloin, San Francisco's most unsavoury neighborhood, with an aggressive homeless and drug-addled population. That being said, many guests rave about the wonderful, clean, organized hostel, comfortable beds, and free breakfasts. There's plenty of fun activities, like a Chinese tea tasting, Coal Harbor Night, and a Homemade Dinner surprise night.

The hostel was once a 1920's boutique hotel (back when the Tenderloin was safe), today it's a newly-renovated dorm with a max of 4 or 5 beds per room. You can choose a co-ed or gender-specific room. If you're not into dorm style living, you can book a premium private room, starting at $100 per night, with your own bathroom.

The HI claims it's on the edge of Civic Center and Little Saigon, we call it deep in the Tenderloin. Here's what one guest said, written in all caps, "DO NOT STAY HERE, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN". She goes on to say that the staff did give her 'safe routes' back to the hostel.

As expected, there are lots of dangerous street sounds all night long — street fights, yelling, sirens… We don't know about you but we'd hate to have a son, daughter, or friends of friends stay here. (Much less ourselves.) Despite its good rating by some guests, based on location we do not recommend this hostel.

Rating = Not Recommended
• 685 Ellis Street
• Neighborhood — Tenderloin

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