For the following general questions about hostels and Hostelling International, please see our general FAQ page. For specific questions about HI-SF City Center, click here to jump to this hostel's FAQs.
What is a hostel?
What is Hostelling International?
What makes HI hostels unique?
Are hostels safe?
How do I find hostels?
Is there an age limit to stay in HI hostels?
Do I need to be a member of HI to stay in HI hostels?
What are HI’s member benefits?
Do I have to sleep in a dorm when staying at a hostel?
Will I have to do chores at the hostel?
Are hostels closed during the day?
Are there kitchen and laundry facilities at the hostels?
Are your hostels wheelchair accessible?
Can I bring my service animal to your hostels?
Do your hostels offer programs?
Who stays at hostels?
Can groups stay at hostels?
Do I need a reservation?
Do you accept credit cards and traveler’s checks?
What do I need for check-in?
How long can I stay at the hostel?
Can you drink in the hostel?
What time is breakfast?
Where is the hostel lounge?
Do you have Wi-Fi?
Do you provide locks for the lockers in the hostel bedrooms?
Can I leave my luggage at the hostel overnight?
Do you sell phone cards?
How do I get to the hostel from the airport if I don't have a car?
How much does it cost to take a cab to the airport?
Is there parking at the hostel?
Where can I rent a bike?
How late/early does the BART train run?
How and where can I obtain a MUNI bus pass?
Do I have to sign up for hostel activities?
Do you book Alcatraz tours?
Where is the nearest supermarket?
Where is the nearest post office?
Where can I exchange foreign currency?
Where is the nearest Bank of America/Wells Fargo/Chase location? ATM?
Where is the best hamburger nearby?
Where can I get a good/cheap haircut?
Where should I go out tonight?
What's a good bar (or two) around the area?
Are there any good 18+ dance clubs/dance venues?
Are there any good coffee shops in the area?
How do I get to the Golden Gate Bridge from the hostel?
What's the best beach in the city?
How many people live in San Francisco?
We have a strict 14-night policy. You may stay no longer than 14 nights in any calendar year at any of our San Francisco hostels. The same rule also applies when your stay is spread out over two consecutive months – i.e., you may not stay for the last week of December 2014 followed by the first two weeks of January 2015.
We do not allow guests to drink alcohol in the hostel or bring alcohol into their rooms. However, we do have plenty of bars in our neighborhood, and offer a weekly pub crawl with guests from all three of our San Francisco hostels.
Breakfast is served in the third-floor kitchen from 7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
The lounge is on the second floor. It’s really big and has comfy bean bag chairs, USB chargers and some pretty cool décor! You should go there and ask a luxuriating traveler if they want to join you on a walking tour!
Yes! We offer fast, free Wi-Fi throughout the building. We also offer a number of pay-as-you-go computer terminals for guests traveling without a wireless-capable device.
We do not provide locks, but we sell them for $4 at the front desk. You’re probably not going to find a cheaper lock anywhere else. Of course, you’re also welcome to bring your own!
Sorry, but you cannot leave your luggage here overnight. We simply don’t have the space to store all the odds and ends that people leave behind. You can, however, store your items with us until 10:00 p.m. on the day of your check-out.
Yes, we sell $5, $10 and $20 phone cards at the front desk.
For $8.65, you can take public transportation. At the Airport, follow the signs to BART and take any train headed towards San Francisco. Get off at the Powell Street station and walk north on Powell Street (the one with the cable car turn-around), turn left on O’Farrell Street, and right on Mason Street. We are at 312 Mason Street.
You can also book a Lorrie's shuttle beforehand for $17 by visiting their website or calling the shuttle company at (415) 334-9000. You can also ask an attendant at SFO airport to help you flag down a Lorrie's shuttle – just be sure you specifically ask for the $17 rate to the hostel. You can also take a cab for $45-$55.
To get to the airport from the hostel, you can book a shuttle for $14 right at the hostel front desk.
A cab to the airport will set you back around $45-55. For big groups, it could be more cost-effective to use a cab instead of the shuttle. Ask at the front desk and we can help secure you a larger, family-sized taxi.
We don’t have a parking lot, but there is a local lot one block away. Rates are $23 for regularly sized vehicles and $25 for oversized vehicles.
HI-Downtown is an official community partner with Blazing Saddles Bike Rental. They offer our guests an exclusive discounted price of $18/day with a $100 credit card deposit per bike rented. There are several Blazing Saddle locations around the city, but we're lucky enough to have one just a block north of the hostel!
Monday-Saturday 4:00a.m.–12:00a.m., Sundays 8:00 a.m.–12:00 a.m.
1-day, 3-day, and 7-day MUNI passes are sold at the red kiosk next to the cable car turn-around at the corner of Powell Street and Market Street. 1-day passes cost $15, 3-day passes cost $23, and 7-day passes cost $29. The kiosk is open from 8:45 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
While you aren't required to sign up to participate, some of our on-site activities are food/drink related and the amount of food/drink provided is directly correlated to the number of people who sign up. Also, in some cases, if no one has signed up, an event may get canceled. Signing up is in your best interest and we strongly encourage it!
Alcatraz is one of the most iconic attractions in San Francisco, and as such it can often sell out weeks in advance, especially in the summertime. We advise visitors to purchase their tickets well in advance of their stay by going to http://www.alcatrazcruises.com. We also book tours with companies that package Alcatraz tickets with city tours. We are happy to book these packaged tours for you, but we cannot directly procure Alcatraz tickets.
There are many neighborhood markets in the area, though most of them charge a premium based on their location. The closest major super market, Bristol Farms, is located in the basement of the Westfield Shopping Centre on Market Street, but isn’t that much better when it comes to pricing. There is a City Target with a large grocery section a ten-minute walk from the hostel across Market Street on Fourth Street. Walk five minutes more, pass by the beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens (complete with an indoor carousel) and you’ll reach Whole Foods -- a veritable garden of organic, yummy goodness, though it’s also a bit on the pricey side.
There is a post office one block east of the hostel, located in the basement of Macy’s, shoved ever so carefully behind the kitchen goods/food court area of the store. The hostel also has a box located in the lobby for outgoing mail and often has stamps for sale at the front desk.
The closest centers are CXI on the first floor of the Westfield Shopping Centre at 865 Market Street (Monday - Friday 10:00 a.m.–8:30 p.m., Sunday 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.) and Pacific Foreign Exchange at 533A Sutter Street (Monday - Friday 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m.– 2:00 p.m., closed Sunday).
There is a trusted ATM located right outside our building. The Bank of America is at 1 Powell, the Wells Fargo is at 2 Grant Avenue, and the Chase is at 700 Market Street.
There are two schools of thought when dealing with this issue. One camp will tell you to go to Pearl’s Deluxe Burger (about a six-minute walk from the hostel), while others will advise you to head to the sustainable burger joint Super Duper Burger (also a six-minute walk from the hostel). Both of these local chains are excellent options, and will leave you stuffed and happy!
Many of HI-Downtown's staff members get haircuts at Public Barber Shop (571 Geary Blvd at Jones Street), just a five-minute walk from the hostel. They even offer you free beer while you wait!
A: You should definitely check out what hostel activities are happening before you head out on your own. Outside the hostel, there are a few places we always recommend to the thrill-seeking traveler. A solid choice is to head down to the Mission District, a local’s paradise that is easily accessible by taking the BART from the Powell Street Station to the Mission and 24th Street Station. Once on Mission Street, head two blocks west to Valencia Street and let the good times commence.
There are many fine bars in the area. Head west on Geary Street and you will encounter some of them almost immediately. If you’re looking for live music, a good laugh, and a strong drink, head to Johnny Foley’s. Just two blocks away, Foley’s features dueling pianos in its lower lounge Wednesdays-Saturdays. It’s always a great time and we highly recommend it.
Rickshaw Stop/Popscene seems to be the only place of the kind. They are located at 155 Fell Street, between Van Ness and Franklin, not far off of Market Street.
Yes! Sugar Café at 679 Sutter Street is great. If you want a truly remarkable San Francisco coffee, head to Blue Bottle Coffee at 66 Mint Plaza, just a ten-minute walk from the hostel. Their selections are awesome.
You could take the Bike the Bay Cycling Tour offered by the hostel every Monday morning, or you could go it alone on Muni. The trip will take you about 45 minutes and is best done before 4 p.m., as conditions on the Bridge usually become foggy, at best, in the late afternoon. Take the 38 or the 38L bus all the way through the city to Park Presidio Blvd. From there, take the 28 bus line north all the way to the bridge. You’ve made it! (San Francisco fun fact: The official color of the Golden Gate Bridge is called “International Orange.”)
We like Baker Beach. The sand is marvelous, the view is unparalleled, the waves and currents are some of the deadliest on the Western Seaboard, and half of it is clothing optional. Oh, San Francisco! To get there, take the 38 or the 38L bus westbound, all the way across the city to 25th Avenue. On 25th Ave either walk north or take the 29 bus northbound. Get off at the end of the line, in the Baker Beach parking lot.
Ocean Beach is another great option and can be reached by catching the N Judah line from the Powell MUNI station. Ride the N until the last stop and you'll be there!
Roughly 800,000 people live in San Francisco. When the SF Giants won the World Series, almost a million people came into the City for the victory parade. It was bonkers.