A Review of San Francisco's Hostelling International Fisherman's Wharf
A huge sign asking "Where in the world are you sleeping tonight?" greets us when we enter San Francisco's Hostelling International Fisherman's Wharf at Fort Mason. It turns out this remarkable building has worn many hats over the years, including being an army barracks, a pharmacy, and part of a national park. If you like some history and character with your accommodations, this is the place to be!
The warmest welcome in San Francisco
For those who have not traveled frequently - or for experienced travelers visiting a hostel for the first time - I cannot imagine a more welcoming and helpful environment The staff were friendly and incredibly knowledgeable and they took care of our endless airport transportation questions with ease. I loved that there was a large bulletin board introducing all the staff members and sharing their favourite things about San Francisco, as well as plenty of information on different neighbourhoods to explore and tips on finding the best food.
Feel at home, find a bargain
HI Fisherman's Wharf takes the job of making guests feel at home very seriously. They offer tons of free opportunities to see the city with fellow hostel guests (like guided cycling tours), as well as in-house programs for meeting new friends and enjoying yourself (like movie nights with popcorn and yoga classes). I've never seen a hostel offer so many different activities and services and I was astonished by how many were absolutely free. Even those offered for a cost had ridiculously small price tags.
Our clean and comfy room
Of course, the thing that matters most about a hostel - or any accommodation provider - is how well you sleep. We had a private room (with shared common bath) and our room was clean and comfortable. It was set up with bunk beds, with a double bed on the bottom and a single on the top. The bed was made with nice new linens. There was a tiny closet in the corner that contained a set of lockers for securing valuables. There was also a space heater, a dresser with complimentary towels on top, a nightstand, and a lamp.
Million dollar views for under a hundred bucks
The absolute best thing about the room was the spectacular view. We could see Fort Mason's old cannons and beyond that a clear view of San Francisco Bay, with a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. I have no idea how much this view would cost in a hotel, but dorms at the hostel start at $29 and private rooms start at $85. For a million dollar view at one of the most unique properties in the city, I'd say that's a steal!
Historic hostels come with drafty windows
I had only one minor complaint about this hostel. Our room and the shared bathroom were quite cold. We were very glad to have the space heater, which did work effectively. I think the culprit was the large window facing the bay. Historic properties often have drafty windows and, on a cold December evening, we felt the consequences. Thanks to the space heater our room was eventually warm and comfortable and we slept soundly through the night. If this is something that would really bother you, I'd recommend calling directly to book in a warm part of the hostel. One upside to a chilly older building? There was a real, beautiful fireplace in the common room!
HI Fisherman's Wharf is a firm favourite
Between the amazing views, the friendly staff, the endless guest activities, and the uniqueness of the property, this is one hostel I was loath to leave. It felt like the kind of place I would happily base myself out of for a week or two and the little details, like free and fast Wi-Fi and a good morning breakfast, helped make our stay go smoothly. As couple who want to balance privacy and comfort with frugality and new friends, a private hostel room was the perfect choice for us and HI Fisherman's Wharf is absolutely a good bet for more "mature" travelers to experience hostel living for the first time.
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. What are your favourite things to do in San Francisco without breaking the bank?
If you enjoyed this article, you'll also like:
Locked Up Abroad? A Night Tour of Alcatraz Island
Our Five Favourite Freebies in Sydney
Can I Use a Sleeping Bag in a Hostel?
Our accommodations were courtesy of HI USA. This did not affect my review and all opinions remain my own
26/2/2014 01:42:54 pm
I agree - historical charm goes a lot further for me than designer chic! The outside of this hostel is rather plain (it still looks like the army barracks it once was) but inside it is full of warmth and personality.
24/5/2014 02:02:04 am
We stayed at this hostel in May of 2012. The location can't be beat! Our room looked very similar to your own, although the heater was an old fashioned built in radiator that got really, really hot. We did find the bunk bed mattresses to be rather uncomfortable, which made for restless sleep. I'm hoping they've upgraded them since then.
24/5/2014 08:33:19 am
We did sleep solid but admittedly the fact that we had been awake for nearly 36 hours may have helped! (Plus all that fresh air on the Alcatraz Cruise). Ryan started off the evening by reading in the top bunk so not to disturb me sleeping down below but he was comfortable enough to stay up there and sleep all night!
27/5/2014 08:12:29 am
Ive not been here, but when my travels take to to San Fran I will definately check out this hostel. thanks for the reviews.
10/6/2014 01:07:38 am
I hope you get to San Fran soon - I'd love to hear all about your trip!
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