San Francisco is one of the coolest cities to visit not only in the USA but worldwide because it has everything: a dynamic scene, a lot of technology, great food and incredible architectures. Due to the huge variety of offers, selecting the best place to stay in the city is not easy at all. Before to begin the adventure of The Sustainable Tour – North American Edition, we have been looking for a hostel chain operating also in the US that would share the values of the project. While searching, we found HI USA, a not for profit company/organization that is operating several hotels around the States with several common factors: allow people to travel, become more open-minded and meet new people and respect the environment, always. As these two factors perfectly represent the mood and the spirit of The Sustainable Tour, we decided to stay and review one of the two HI USA Hostels in San Francisco the HI San Francisco City Center Hostel, here is the full review:
HI San Francisco City Center Hostel Review
As the name says, the HI San Francisco City Center Hostel is in the city center of San Francisco, in one of the most controversial neighbourhoods of the city: Tenderloin. Now you may have heard a lot about this neighbourhood in terms of safety and security, but during our 3 nights stay in the hostel we never had problems. Despite that, if you are not an experienced traveller, I suggest you use a taxi/uber to move to and from the hostel, especially at night. Even if the area around the hostel may seem scary, no worries because the hostel is a safe place where to stay at night. Once you will get used to the area, you will be more than surprised by how easy is to visit and discover all the city starting from the HI San Francisco City Center. The main public transports are just a few minutes walking away and is easy to walk around the city centre and to reach the main attractions such as the incredible China Town neighbourhood.
The HI San Francisco City Center has been open re-using an already existing building, in fact, in the building was hosting a boutique hotel of 1920. The hostel is preserving and enhancing all the vintage mood of the structure, offering modern and comfortable dorms with in-room bathrooms and lockers in all the rooms. All the beds are equipped with individual sockets, USB ports and a reading lamp. As the dorms have been made from what it was used to be double room they do not excel in terms of space, but for 4 people they are comfortable and the toilet within the room is always a plus. The HI San Francisco City Center is offering also private accommodation if you are looking for more privacy, without giving up the atmosphere of the hostel. Beds comfort is higher than the average of the hostels, with a thick mattress and a topping in the premium dorms.
Nothing to appoint here. Despite being an old structure, everything in the hostel was a clean and good odour. Even being a hostel with many rooms and populated, we did find everything always clean and in order, even the big kitchen and the common spaces.
The HI San Francisco City Center Hostel is offering a big gamma of services, among the most important there is the free breakfast (that could become all you can eat pancakes with 1$ extra) and the set of activities organised in the common space and the bar of the hostel. Worth to mention is also the Free Walking Tour of Chinatown, that takes place every Saturday and is an experience not to miss.
Unfortunately, there is no laundry service in the hostel and the common area equipment is limited only to some cool books and guides to read. At the reception, you will find a tour desk with information about the best activities going on in the city during the week and the days of your stay, it is always worth a double-check.
Around prices there could be a big discussion as the USA prices for the hostel are not comparable with the prices that could be found in Europe. This score is, of course, based on the standards of the United States. The prices of the HI San Francisco Hostel are competitive if you consider the quality of the service, the rooms and the cleanness level. Moreover, the free breakfast and the free coffee available anytime at the reception are indeed a plus to confirm the good quality/price score of the hostel. The knowledge of the area from the staff is indeed an extra value that is worth mentioning.
Sustainability Score 4,5/5
Almost perfect! As said before, HI USA is a not for profit chain highly committed to environmental protection and as a demonstration of this, there are several projects that the company is gradually launching in all the structures. One of the examples is the Million Gallon Challenge the HI San Francisco City Center was the first hostel of the group to receive the colour-changing showerheads that change their colour based on the time you are spending in the shower and so based on the water you are “wasting”. The changing lights is an interesting way of encouraging the guests to reduce their shower time and to save water. HI USA estimates a saving of one million gallons of water with a reduction of 30 seconds of the shower time of their guests. That is remarkable!
Moreover, it was a pleasant surprise to find solar panels on the roof that can power almost entirely the hostel.
Indeed, the HI San Francisco City Center Hostel is among the best green hostel in the city if not the best green hostel in the city!
The last aspect that I want to underline about the HI San Francisco City Center is the personality and the eclectic design of the whole structure. Many times, it happens to me to visit hostels that look like alike in every single detail, that is why I like structures that can show uniqueness and distinguish positively from the ‘’crowd’’.
Despite the different tastes, I believe that it is important to feel that the structure has a unique personality and a unique atmosphere. This can be found in the HI San Francisco City Center hostel!