HI - Syracuse - Downing International Hostel



The Hostelz.com Review

HI - Syracuse - Downing International Hostel is the only hostel in Syracuse, New York's fifth-largest city. For people traveling through central New York or visiting Syracuse for business or leisure, Downing Hostel is probably your most affordable lodging option aside from couch-surfing. It's a quiet, safe, comfortable stay in a convenient location. Staff are friendly and welcoming. The atmosphere is not as lively as big city hostels or popular tourist destinations, but it sure beats a hotel!

The Location

The hostel is located one block off of James Street, a major avenue leading to Clinton Square in the center city. The walk to the center takes approximately twenty minutes. The neighborhood is a quiet residential area with big beautiful old homes, tall trees shading the streets, and people out walking their dogs. The neighborhood has seen better days but it feels safe. There are plenty of amenities within walking distance. The nearest supermarkets are Tops and Wegmans (each a twenty-minute walk). The hostel is accessible from the inter-city bus/rail station via the local Centro buses. It may be a bit confusing because Syracuse doesn't have the best public transit, but there is information available at the station. The walk from the station is approximately forty minutes. If you have a car there is ample on-street parking and some parking in the driveway.

Rooms and Bathrooms

Most rooms have bunk beds but there are private rooms as well. Clean sheets and towels are provided at check-in. There are hooks on the beds for your clothes and towel, and there are closets where you can hang stuff. There are some small lockers in the hall just outside the rooms. The bathrooms are clean but old and could use a facelift. One sink, one toilet stall, and two shower stalls with hooks for towels. There is also a bathroom in the basement with the kitchen.

Common Spaces

The common spaces are very comfortable and clean but could be maintained a bit better. There is a lounge on the first floor next to the main office with a couch, television, and movies to watch, but no cable. When the main office is open there are computers available to use, and there is free wireless internet that works throughout. There is also ample seating in the kitchen down in the basement, which also has a TV, but no cable. There are plenty of dishes and supplies for cooking plus two refrigerators and labels for your food items. There are also chairs out on the front porch, and plenty of free information and newspapers to help you get acquainted with the area. The atmosphere is friendly but definitely subdued because there just aren't very many people staying there. This may be different on the weekends or when special events are happening. Despite the very quiet atmosphere, it feels safe and pleasant. The front door is always locked but they will give you a code to get in the side door whenever you wish.


The hostel is a great resource for visiting Syracuse. You will meet friendly people, but perhaps not many people. This is not a reflection of the quality of the hostel, but of the city itself, owing to hard economic times from post-industrial decline. Still, the house and neighborhood are charming and accessible to nearby amenities. The service is excellent and you probably don't need to make a reservation because there is almost always space available. Overall, it is a comfortable and inexpensive way to stay in Syracuse.
by Sam
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.


(Location is approximate. You may need to pan/move to find "HI - Syracuse - Downing International Hostel" at 535 Oak Street.)


535 Oak Street, Syracuse, New York, USA
43.060450, -76.136136 (accuracy not guaranteed)
None (if you know the URL of their website, tell us and we'll add it)
+1 (315) 472-5788
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How is HI - Syracuse - Downing International Hostel rated on other websites?

  Cleanliness Location Atmosphere Overall
(17 ratings)
Not listed on HostelBookers.
Not listed on HostelsClub.
HI Hostels
(16 ratings)
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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews

The manager is efficient and friendly!
I enjoyed my stay in Syracuse. PLEASE, don't close this amazing hostel!
Age 36, USA
Best value in Town
This is a great hostel in a great city. My stay last year was wonderful and I know I will have a great ten days. See you there. Check out the website. The pictures are great.
Age 59, Usa
Very positive
Good facility and well run. Just wish HI would correct the problem with the dampness in the basement.
Age 45, usa
Fantastically accommodating and lots of character!
The owners were superbly friendly and -- even though my fiance and I arrived well after check-in hours, due to a storm -- they were nice enough to let us in and get us settled in our private room, for just $53. Said room was colorful, comfortable, and the associated bathroom was functional and reasonably clean. The house itself is filled with warm carpeting, dark wood, and even some stained glass windows, and is located just a walk away from most conveniences -- and just about 3 miles on the nose from Harrison's Bakery, for those interested in supporting another (tasty) local business following the 9am deadline to be out of the building.
(United States)
Aside from a few friends I was visiting, this was the only place I felt comfortable to be in Syracuse.
Age 23, USA
The perfect place to stay
cheap, comfortable, friendly helpful staff, in a perfect location near bus stop and a shopping plaza. I loved everyday of my stay there.
Gorgeous Features, Great Hosts, Felt at Home
I felt really at home here. The hostel has new owners and they are trying to reinvent the place and accommodate travelers, whilst keeping all the old features. They were so friendly, I adored them. It IS an big old place; it looks gorgeous and has a beautiful staircase. The place has a nice feel to it. It has a huge basement kitchen will is well stocked for the budding chef. This hostel can only get better and better now. There are two television rooms and great WIFI, which I had no trouble connecting to. Syracuse itself is ok -- not a huge tourist place at all, but a great half way house onto NY/Boston.
Kelly Drewett
A Diamond in the Rough, Unique Building
We finally got to stay here after literally decades of me seeing it in the HI USA book every year. A 4 bunk bed room for the 4 of us, including 2 kids ages 8 and 10, was $44. The mansion that the hostel is in was built in 1895 and still has many of the original features, including the magnificent foyer and staircase. The place is dusty because renovations are going on. Dorms and private rooms are on the second floor. The basement has a common area, TV, fridge and so on. It has the feel of a college dorm in the basement, an elegant home in pre-World War I America on the first floor. Stained glass, old handrails; I swear some old Hollywood movie was filmed here. The kitchen on the first floor is barren due to the renovations; the kitchen in the basement is fine but not spotless. I liked the guy who ran the place. He was very welcoming and not too much of a busybody like some hostel wardens are. With the possible exception of a hostel in Philadelphia there is nothing in North America like this, not even in Canada, which has many interesting old buildings turned into hostels.

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