The 6 Best Hostels in San Francisco

An increasing number of affordable world-class hostels are popping up across San Francisco
An increasing number of affordable world-class hostels are popping up across San Francisco | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
In a city famed for its extortionate accommodation prices and some of the most expensive real estate in the world, a trip to the Golden City can be heavy on the wallet. Luckily for budget travelers, an increasing number of world-class hostels are popping up across the city, allowing you to save your pennies for exploring its multi-layered cultural scene instead. Whether you’re after a hyper-social stay with loads of activities on offer, or you want something with more of a boutique hotel vibe, here is Culture Trip’s round-up of the best hostels in San Francisco.

Green Tortoise Hostel, North Beach

Hostel
Courtesy of Green Tortoise Hostel / Booking.com
A party hostel with a computer lounge, sauna and a 24-hour fully-equipped kitchen, Green Tortoise Hostel is a great place for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. The family-owned hostel, located in the Italian neighborhood North Beach, is also a great place for solo travelers to make friends. The hostel encourages guests to join the guided pub crawl to get to know the locals’ favorite spots. Dinner – everything from pasta to curry – is offered to guests three times a week, and a filling, free daily breakfast includes bagels and eggs.
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USA Hostels San Francisco, Union Square

Hostel, Hotel
Courtesy of USA Hostels San Francisco / Hostelworld.com
Located on Union Square, USA Hostels is a one-stop shop for active travelers who like to seize the day early. The daily breakfast is a free spread of all-you-can-make pancakes, fruit and baked goods, there’s a yoga room and you can sign up for free walking tours and hikes – plus they offer discounts on bike rentals for cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge. Each room has four beds, while privates offer cable TV, a microwave and a mini-fridge, and you can mingle with other travelers at the weekly events, which include wine and cheese or bingo nights.
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HI San Francisco City Center, Tenderloin

Hostel
Courtesy of HI San Francisco / Hostelworld.com

Located in the center of San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin District, near Little Saigon, HI San Francisco City Center is perfect for those who want to explore outside the usual tourist destinations. Housed in a 1920s boutique hotel (now a landmark building), the decor has a vintage vibe, and there’s a speakeasy-style cafe that serves a free breakfast every day. There are numerous cheap eats in the bustling surrounding area, and the hostel runs free and cheap tours including day trips to sites such as Muir Woods and Yosemite.

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Amsterdam Hostel San Francisco, Nob Hill

Hostel, Hotel
Courtesy of Amsterdam Hostel / Hostelworld.com
Steps away from Union Square, Chinatown and the Theater District, Amsterdam Hostel is convenient if you want to explore on foot. Popular with a young crowd, it has a small terrace, free wifi and runs movie nights for when you don’t feel like joining the lively pub crawls. The place is older than other hostels in the city – and the wear and tear shows in some of the facilities – but overall it’s a great option for anyone on a shoestring budget.
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HI San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Hostel

Hostel
HI San Francisco - Fisherman's Wharf Hostel
Courtesy of HI San Francisco - Fisherman's Wharf Hostel / Booking.com
The sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz set this hostel apart from the other Hostelling International branches around the city. You’ll find it in historic Fort Mason, just a short walk from buzzing Pier 39. Prepared for Fog City’s ever-changing weather, it has a sun deck for relaxing on during milder days, and a welcoming lounge with a gas stove or cinema room for curling up in on blustery, overcast evenings. There’s a free continental breakfast and plenty of free activities to get involved in, too.
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FOUND Hotel San Francisco, Tenderloin

Hostel
Courtesy of Found Hotel / Expedia.com
This hotel offers wallet-friendly shared rooms so you can have a hostel-style stay but take advantage of hotel amenities. There’s an on-site bar and restaurants, encompassing Mason House, which serves up the best burgers in the city, and subterranean cocktail bar, Lower Mason. Those on a shoestring budget, however, can whip up a meal in the shared kitchen.
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Molly Codyre contributed additional reporting to this article.

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These recommendations were updated on July 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.