Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.
Hostelling International San Francisco Downtown
312 Mason S.t; (415) 788-5604; hiusa.org/hostels/california/san-francisco/downtown; reception open 24hr
You know the saying. When in San Francisco, do as the hipsters do. The hipsters stay at this hostel. With its modern and sleek lobby, you can get style on a budget. Shared rooms have four or six beds, and include both single-gender and mixed dorms. There is a shared kitchen, a movie room and space to spread out. It’s located steps away from Union Square and the Powell St BART station, and is surrounded by tons of restaurants and clothing stores. It’s in a happening part of town, so boredom is not one of the amenities.
Shared bunks from $39, privates from $89; reservation recommended; max stay 14 nights, BGLTQ+ friendly; wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi; wifi, linens, breakfast included; coin and card operated laundry; free coffee in the lobby
5 Isadora Duncan Ln.; (415) 359-1915; adelaidehostel.com; reception open 24hr
Walk through the door of this friendly stay tucked away in an alley, and find a comfy, well-furnished living room. This hostel is a great place to rest those shin-splinted legs after a day of trekking San Francisco’s hills. Wake up to a breakfast of toast, oatmeal, bagels, or fruit, and fuel up before you get going again. It’s located right in the center of Union Square, with Muni and BART access close by. With a comfy living room and a dining space used for organic gatherings, the place feels social and communal. The staff are friendly and make you feel cared for. Dorm rooms have cubicle bunks with curtains and lockers underneath.
Dorms from $32, privates from $89; reservation recommended; max stay 14 days; BGLTQ+ friendly; Wi-Fi, linens, breakfast included; computers and coin laundry facilities available
Graham left behind the stressed-out chaos of Cambridge for the laid back life on the West Coast. A refreshing change of pace, he assumed, until the line for coffee on his first morning took 2 mins longer than he’s used to, and the Northeast nasty jumped out. Starting in Vancouver, Graham meandered south, toning his calves being a pedestrian on San Francisco’s hills and by navigating the monstrosity that is Los Angeles using just his feet and public transit (only resorting to Uber twice!) Graham’s love for the West Coast life only increased as he sat by the Puget Sound in Seattle, sipped kombucha in the crunchy cafes of Portland, climbed into a waterfall in Yosemite and stayed in an abandoned opera house in Death Valley. By the time he hit upper 80s sun of San Diego, buff calves and sun tanned, the words “West Coast, Best Coast,” almost slipped out of his mouth. Identity crisis looming, he figured it was time to go home.