What is a hostel?
A hostel provides a comfortable night’s sleep at a low cost in private or dorm-style accommodations, in unique settings all over the world. Hostels come in all shapes and sizes, from historic buildings with 20 beds to renovated hotels with 600 beds, and often reflect the special character of the surrounding community.
What is Hostelling International?
HI stands for Hostelling International, a brand name that makes it easy for travelers to find a hostel they know will meet high standards of cleanliness, service, and safety. The nonprofit International Youth Hostel Federation adopted the HI brand name in the early 1990s. Now travelers just look for the trademarked, HI blue-triangle logo to find quality accommodations. Hostelling International USA is an affiliate of IYHF, and operates a network of 57 hostel accommodations with 31 regional councils throughout the United States, including the Golden Gate Council.
What is the Golden Gate Council?
Hostelling International USA, Golden Gate Council is a regional council affiliate of HI-USA. The Council operates eight hostels in Northern California. Since its establishment in 1958, the Golden Gate Council has grown to become one of the leading networks of HI-USA hostels. For more information, see About Us.
What makes HI hostels unique?
HI hostels offer an opportunity to interact with travelers of any age, culture, background, or experience in a safe environment. HI hostels also provide free or low-cost programs, self-service kitchens, comfortable common rooms, and additional amenities. HI hostels are the trusted source for quality at a great price because they meet international quality standards for cleanliness, service, and safety.
How do I find hostels?
For HI hostels in Northern California, see Hostels. For worldwide locations, visit the international HI website. HI also publishes an annual hostel guide that can be purchased from HI-USA.
Is there an age limit?
HI hostels welcome people of all ages and are no longer referred to as youth hostels. In fact, there are more and more families, couples, groups, and people 55 or older using our hostels. Bavaria, Germany, is the only area in the world where access is limited to travelers under the age of 26.
Do I need to be a member?
HI membership is not required by hostels in the United States. However, nonmembers may be charged an extra nightly fee of $3. Some European HI hostels will only admit members.
What are the member benefits?
HI members receive discounted overnight rates at more than 4,000 HI hostels in 80 countries around the world, in addition to free basic travel insurance, discounts on international phone calls, commission-free currency exchange, and more. For details, please see Membership.
Do I have to sleep in a dorm?
Hostels are designed to facilitate and encourage interaction between guests of different cultures, backgrounds, and points of view. This interaction happens throughout the hostel, in common areas, kitchens, and dorm rooms. For those guests who are in need of greater privacy but still wish to have the hostel experience, we do offer options for exclusive use of a room. In fact, all of our Northern California Hostels offer private rooms in addition to shared, dorm-style rooms.
Will I have to do chores?
Daily housekeeping is provided at all hostels; there are no chores at large urban hostels, and chores are voluntary at other hostels. Chores are small cleaning tasks that take a few minutes to complete, and help to keep hostelling affordable for everyone.
Are hostels closed during the day?
Most major urban HI hostels are open 24 hours a day. Some smaller and rural hostels are closed during the day, due to limited staffing. All of our Northern California hostels are open 24 hours.
Are hostels safe?
Safety and security for guests and their belongings are a high priority at all HI hostels. Because space is often shared in dorm-style accommodations, common sense dictates keeping valuables and important documents in your possession at all times. However, all of our Northern California hostels provide small private lockers for valuables as well as secure storage areas for luggage and bicycles. Guests are advised to bring a padlock (or purchase one at the front desk).
Are there kitchen and laundry facilities?
All of our Northern California hostels provide clean and fully equipped self-service kitchens. You'll find cookware, dishes, utensils, appliances, and refrigerator/freezer storage space. Guest laundry facilities are available at the Marin Headlands Hostel, Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, Sacramento Hostel, San Francisco Downtown Hostel, and San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Hostel.
Do your hostels offer programs?
In San Francisco, our dedicated Activities Coordinators offer daily programs such as walking tours, bike rides, pub crawls, hostel dinners, and movie nights. The Golden Gate Council also offers a range of outdoor education and intercultural programming for youth and student groups; please see Programs for details.
Who stays at hostels?
HI hostel guests have few things in common other than wanting accommodations that provide quality, value, and a friendly atmosphere that makes it easy to meet other travelers. HI hostels are not just for young people, although the majority of guests are between 18 and 30 years old.
Can groups stay at hostels?
School groups or social, community, professional, or religious organizations are welcome at HI hostels, but advance reservations are required. Many HI hostels have special meeting/event facilities or group programs. For more information, please see Groups.
Do I need a reservation?
For peace of mind, HI recommends that you make a reservation; however, walk-ins are welcome if space is available. Please see Reservations for more information.
Do you accept credit cards and travelers checks?
All of our Northern California hostels accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB, as well as travelers checks. A credit card is required to make a reservation.
What do I need for check-in?
Check-in requires a valid government-issued picture identification card (passport, driver's license, or state or military ID card. If you're an HI member and want to receive the member rate, you must also present your membership card.
For general inquiries about Hostelling International, please contact the administrative office of HI-USA Golden Gate Council.
If you have questions about a specific hostel, please contact that hostel directly:
Marin Headlands Hostel
Marin Headlands/Sausalito, CA
Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel
Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel
Point Reyes Hostel
Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
San Francisco City Center Hostel
685 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Downtown Hostel
312 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Hostel
Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA