About Us

Founded in 1958, the Golden Gate Council of Hostelling International USA is a nonprofit network of 8 hostels providing top-quality accommodations in San Francisco, Sacramento, and 4 State and National Parks.

“Hostels are more than mere lodgings; they are warm gathering places where people mix and converse without barriers of race, religion, age or income.”
--San Francisco Chronicle

The HI Brand

The HI brand is a seal of approval recognized around the world. HI stands for Hostelling International, the global brand name of the nonprofit International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF), whose roots stretch back to the beginning of the hostel movement more than 100 years ago. Hostels that display the trademarked HI blue triangle logo must meet international quality standards for cleanliness, service, and safety.

Hostelling International USA is one of 80 member countries of IYHF, with 57 hostels around the United States. The Golden Gate Council in Northern California is among the top HI-USA regions, with 230,000 overnights annually at its 8 hostels.

HI hostels provide travelers with more than guaranteed quality at a great price. They're places where travelers meet informally, share their experiences, and learn about other cultures, fostering an international awareness that serves as a catalyst for peace and understanding.

Our Mission

The mission of HI-USA Golden Gate Council is to help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling. Our vision is for guests to become caring global citizens who are catalysts for intercultural exchange and understanding stewards of the earth.

We work to achieve this through the following activities:

  • Promote global awareness through a network of welcoming, comfortable, and affordable hostels that encourage exploration and nurture cross-cultural communication, and through programs that interpret culture principally through interaction among hostellers and community members.
  • Encourage educational travel through information, activities, and services that facilitate safe, affordable, and culturally sensitive hostel travel for people of all ages.
  • Protect the environment through activities that promote meaningful, low-impact travel using hostels and that focus on the conservation and interpretation of the built and natural environment.
  • Broaden community participation through involvement of all members of the community in hostel travel, programs, and volunteer participation.

For the latest on our programs and achievements, download the HI-USA Golden Gate Council annual report 2010.

Our History

Hostelling began in 1909 to help young people of limited means experience the countrysides and cities of the world. Today, hostels are at the heart of international tourism for a wide age group, and hostellers contribute up to US$1.4 billion to tourist revenues worldwide every year.

HI-USA Golden Gate Council was founded in 1958 as the Golden Gate Council of American Youth Hostels, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. This remains our nationally registered legal name. In 2004 our trading name became Hostelling International USA, Golden Gate Council to strengthen the HI brand while showing our affiliation with HI-USA.

Key dates in our history:

  • 1934: Isabel and Monroe Smith found American Youth Hostels (now Hostelling International USA) and open the first U.S. hostel in Northfield, Massachusetts.
  • 1937: Frank and Josephine Duveneck open the first California hostel: the Hidden Villa Ranch Hostel in Los Altos.
  • 1958: Kathleen and Walter McAdam found the Golden Gate Council of American Youth Hostels (now HI-USA Golden Gate Council) with volunteers.
  • 1959: The first HI-USA hostel in San Francisco opens in Pacific Heights at Conard House.
  • 1972: Golden Gate Council volunteers transform an old farmhouse into the Laguna Ranch Hostel (now HI-Point Reyes) in cooperation with the Point Reyes National Seashore.
  • 1978: Golden Gate Council volunteers open the Marin Headlands Hostel (now HI-Marin Headlands), its second National Park hostel.
  • 1980: The San Francisco International Hostel (now HI-San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf) opens in Fort Mason due to the generosity of Sybil Jean Logan and hundreds of donors and volunteers. It is an instant success and the model for future urban HI-USA hostels.
  • 1980-1981: Bob Coppock and Golden Gate Council volunteers work to save two lighthouses on the San Mateo coast: the Montara Lighthouse Hostel (now HI-Point Montara Lighthouse) opens in 1980 and the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel (now HI-Pigeon Point Lighthouse) opens in 1981.
  • 1986: The Hostel Adventure Program (now Outdoor Hostel Adventures) is developed to provide environmental education and outdoor experiences to Bay Area inner-city children.
  • 1987: The Golden Gate Council opens the Redwood Hostel (now HI-Redwood National Park) in the historic DeMartin House in Redwood National Park, through a partnership between HI-USA, the National Park Service, the Coastal Conservancy, and the California Conservation Corps.
  • 1992: A hostel at San Francisco's Union Square (now HI-San Francisco Downtown) opens in partnership with HI-USA.
  • 1995: The Sacramento Hostel (now HI-Sacramento) opens after seven years of political maneuvering, in partnership with the City of Sacramento and with funding from the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency.
  • 2001: HI-San Francisco City Center, the first Golden Gate Council-owned hostel, opens just weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent decline in international travel.
  • 2007: The Golden Gate Council expands its educational programs to include Cultural Kitchen, Community Walls, and World Travel 101.
  • 2008: HI-USA Golden Gate Council celebrates its 50th anniversary.
  • 2009: Hostelling International associations around the world celebrate the 100th anniversary of the hostelling movement.
  • 2010: The Redwood National Park Hostel closes indefinitely.

For the latest on our programs and achievements, download the HI-USA Golden Gate Council annual report 2010.

SYTA logo

Hostelling International USA is a member of the nonprofit Student Youth Travel Assocation.