Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Downtown Hostelling International (San Francisco)

I have mixed feelings about this place. Really liked this place the first stay I had but couldn't wait to get out of it the second time. 

1) Location 
Great location! There are three Hostelling International in San Francisco and we chose to stay at the Downtown one. It's a very quick walk (5-10 minutes) to Union Square, Powell Station and the major bus lines which basically brings you everywhere. Although it's in the Tenderloin area, a pretty dangerous area, it's not deep in the Tenderloin, which basically means that it's safe as long as you don't try to do anything stupid. There's a convenience store right next door if you need anything! 

2) Safety 
Connected to the above point is that the security here is pretty good. The staff at the counter make sure that you show your pass everytime you enter just so that random people have no access to the rooms. 

3) Lift 
The lift here must be at least 30 years old. Basically you have to hold onto the button until the light lights up, open the first door, and then enter the second door. The lift isn't that reliable because certain floors will be skipped even though you pressed them. But, if you have time to spare, it doesn't harm to spend some time in the lift with all your heavy luggage since the most you would spend in the lift is 5-10 minutes.

4) Rooms 
I will do a bit more elaboration here because we stayed in two different rooms. 

We stayed in a private room for 4 days and the experience was great. The picture below is taken from their website and it looks exactly like it minus the sink which was in the bathroom. The room was adequately lit with sufficient sockets. (I didn't manage to take a picture because I messed up the room.) 

The toilet is very clean and they clear the dustbins everyday. The water pressure was not enough for me but that isn't a big negative point. 

I thought this was pretty neat- "They're kinda cute and so are you."

The only bad thing about the room was that it was next to the road. So throughout the night, we heard random people shouting, siren sounds, random vehicles which sounded like garbage trucks. 

Okay, the more problematic part was the second time we stayed. We stayed for one night and I think that was enough. I am not sure if my opinions are swayed by the fact that the lady at the counter was snappy about us changing rooms but more about that later. 

This is the twin bed room which costs $5 more than the queen bed. For that $5, I highly encourage you to get the queen bed instead of the twin bed. This picture is of a room we were in before we shifted to another room but it looks the same, minus the heater. MINUS THE HEATER. How is it possible to live without a heater? The pillow is also cushion sized and there was less lighting and electric sockets than the queen bed room. 

There is a shallow bath tub in the toilet and you see this on the wall: "Shower Magic"- Very funny. Well, it isn't much of a hassle to deal with the shower. But the taps in the queen room is easier to handle than those in the twin bed room. 

5) Amenities
I think the wifi is pretty good (as mentioned above) and they are in the midst of upgrading it. 

Good amenities in the building- vending machines (which contain lots of food including instant noodles for the hungry person), a water dispenser (really loved this because it saved $$), a big and clean kitchen, a laundry area ($1.50/$1.75 for washing/drying), and a few common areas. 

Breakfast was free although we only ate there once because it really was nothing much- apples, bagels and bread. But something's better than nothing I suppose.

6) Service 
Service was generally fine with the people at the counter being willing to help. But one incident ruined it all. We had problem with the keys they gave us because it simply didn't lock the door and even the cleaning lady tried our keys and decided that ours couldn't get in. She used hers and they worked! So we went down and asked if we could change rooms.

The lady looked at me and said, "You know, we have never had a problem with it." Okay, so do you want me to sleep with the door ajar? And then she jabbed at a sign at the counter that said something along the lines that please be patient because they are changing shifts, "By the way, I'm actually not supposed to be here at the counter because I'm on break now." Okay... But you are at the counter, how do I know that you are supposed to be on a break?

But the next day, she seemed more pleasant and helpful with us storing our luggage in the luggage room. Maybe the previous day was her bad day!

Overall, this is a good and cheap place (compared to other places in the area) as long as you choose the correct room and bring your ear plugs.

Downtown Hostelling International (San Francisco) 
312 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94102


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