Hello winter! Here in San Francisco the colder months mean rainy weather between sunny (but still chilly) days, though none of that deters locals and travelers from getting out to enjoy what the city has to offer. The secret is to bundle up and make your way to somewhere cozy, be it a solo mission to a coffee shop where you can curl up with a book and people watch, or a group hang out at a dimly lit bar where you can sip on a warming drink over good conversation. We asked HI San Francisco City Center hostel’s manager and long-time Bay Area local, Molly Salyer, where travelers can cozy up and beat the winter blues.
“Right down the street from the hostel is the perfect place to cozy up to close friends, and warm yourselves by singing at the top of your lungs!” Molly suggests. She’s talking about Pandora Karaoke, a cool, dark hangout where you can belt out your favorite tunes for a good night out. If you’re shy and have a large group together, you can even rent out a private booth (you can have up to 15 people in a room at $50 for an hour) or mingle and sing along with everyone in the lounge area.
Try something a little different (or a little closer to home if Japanese public baths are your thing) and go for a warm and rejuvenating soak at the Kabuki Springs and Spa. “The well curated space at Japan Center is peaceful and super-duper relaxing, with alternating days for men and women, and a coed day on Tuesdays. You can splurge for a massage service, or for just $25 luxuriate in the shared baths and saunas!” Says Molly. You can also check out the Imperial Day Spa for a more budget-friendly option.
The Landmark Theatre at Opera Plaza
Could there be anything better than getting cozy at the movies on a rainy day? Not if you’re going to the Landmark Theatre, which houses small screening rooms and comfortable seats where you can catch independent and art house films that you often can’t see anywhere else. Whether you enjoy going to the movies by yourself or in a group, you’ll love the comforting smell of sweet buttered popcorn in the air and the ability to lose yourself in another world for a few hours.
If you’re missing summer vibes a little bit there’s always Smuggler’s Cove tiki bar, a dark and cavernous space decorated with fishing nets and ropes, buoys and other nautical baubles. Once you’re feeling the tropical ocean mood (there’s even a bubbling fountain to lend water sounds to add to the theme), get yourself a rum cocktail and settle in for a good night of fun. This is the perfect spot to go with some new hostel friends since there seems to be a conversation starter everywhere you turn.
At the hostel
“We have two sets of chairs near our front windows that are cozy, comfy, and oddly quiet,” Molly says. “One set, up on the mezzanine, provides a bird’s eye view of all the street level goings on, as well as lots of light for reading and updating your social media. Downstairs in the mystic lounge, we have another set of chairs that rest in a little pocket of quiet created by the building’s acoustics.” And when the hostel is festively decorated with its silvery Christmas tree and eclectic bits and baubles, it feels even more like you’ve stepped into a magical movie.
One of the perks of staying at HI SF City Center is that you’ll have access to the warm and welcoming Ivy’s Place, the little in-house bar where you’re always guaranteed to leave with a new friend. Pop downstairs for a glass of local wine or beer and perch on one of the stools and just let the magic happen (which it always tends to do at Ivy’s).
HI USA Tip: If you plan on visiting more HI USA hostels in Northern California this winter, take a look at what to do on a rainy day no matter you’re staying.