HI - San Francisco Downtown (Union Square)




The Hostelz.com Review

Considering the average rates for accommodation in San Francisco, HI - San Francisco Downtown (Union Square) represents a great deal, offering very good value for money.

The Location

This hostel has a great location, literally two minutes' walking from Union Square, considered the "centre of it all" when it comes to the touristic side of San Francisco. Hub for transportation to the rest of the city, via bus, cable car, and metro. This hostel is surrounded by high-end hotels, which reassures you that this is a prime area of the city.

Rooms and Bathrooms

For a hostel, the rooms are surprisingly spacious and well arranged. Furnishings in private rooms include working desks, chairs, individual couch, and two bedside tables with reading lights. There is plenty of closet space in each room as well as big size lockers (meant to fit a regular sized backpack inside) -- don't forget to bring your own locker or buy one at reception. Private rooms include bathroom, and although the bathroom is fairly small, it's functional and clean.

There are also a variety of dorms accommodating different numbers of people. For those, there are shared bathrooms in every floor -- some include toilet and showers, but there are also separate toilets and showers making sure you'll have something available even at busy times.

Common Spaces

There are a ton of activities for those wishing to socialize with other travelers -- pub crawl, movie night in the hostel's very own movie room (that likes showing movies set in San Francisco often), games, book exchange, yoga classes outside the hostel, amongst other tours and group activities organized during the day, mainly for sightseeing purposes in and around the city.

The hostel has free Wi-Fi (you have to pay if you need to use their PC). Print outs are expensive though (more than in other printing shops around, which is unusual for a hostel).

Breakfast is included in the rate, consisting of fresh (and delicious!) bagels from a popular San Francisco bakery, cream cheese, jam, organic fair trade coffee, tea, milk, oatmeal, and some fruit (usually bananas or oranges). Coffee is also available anytime for free at reception.


This hostel stands out with little things like serving organic coffee and offering filtered refrigerated water in every floor (although tap water is actually safe to drink).
by zararock
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
View from outside
Corridor and computer area
Living room
Movies room
Shared room


(Location is approximate. You may need to pan/move to find "HI - San Francisco Downtown (Union Square)" at 312 Mason Street.)


312 Mason Street, Downtown, San Francisco, California, USA
37.786554, -122.409492 (accuracy not guaranteed)
+1 (415) 788-5604
+1 (415) 788-3023
To add or correct information for this listing, please use the Listing Correction Form.

How is HI - San Francisco Downtown (Union Square) rated on other websites?

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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews

Good place in the heart of SF
The hostel is conveniently located in one of the main streets of San Francisco. Only two blocks separate it from Powell Street Station, stop for both Muni and BART trains that grant access to the whole city and metropolitan area. There are a variety of cafes, restaurants, department stores, Walgreens, and even a shopping mall in the neighborhood, which made the day-after-day easier. The location may have its disadvantages (the noise being the greatest ones), but for those who are relying on the public transportation during their stay in San Francisco, the location is the key-point to be considered. Besides, the hostel's bathrooms were pretty clean during my 10 nights there, and so was the linen. The hostel also offer plenty of activities for the guests. There is something to do every day, even though I can't speak about how funny this schedule really is, since I haven't joined it during my stay.
Age 27, Brazil
Right in the middle
After coming from LA where our hostel was below average we were pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness of Hi hostel. We had a double private room with private shower. The bed was really comfy and the bathroom was small but clean and it worked. Lighting was a bit of an issue but only at night when I was trying to get ready to go out. Free wifi and breakfast was fantastic along with very helpful staff. The location is fantastic. It's in walking distance to union square, fishermans wharf and all the shopping plazas. My only negative was that our room was facing a road and it was extremely noisy! Especially because it looked like the window was only 3mm thick!! But they do have free earplugs for anyone who wants them. Over all a great hostel in a central location. I would definitely stay here again.
Nice location, so-so staff
The hostel itself is very nice -- rooms are spacious, many are en-suite, and there are plenty of common areas. I moved here after being terrified of the neighbourhood at another place and it was much better at this hostel. However, I found the staff to be very unfriendly and not interested in helping. I survived, since I'd already been in the city for a few days. All in all, this is a much better pick than some hostels but it certainly isn't the best hostel I've ever stayed in.
Great location -- Tidy Accommodations
I recently stayed for the better part of a week at the Downtown hostel. Being a single woman, I was a little unsure based on some of the reviews I had read beforehand but it was the only place available since I had booked late. I was really pleasantly surprised -- it's a very nice place and I found the staff to be very helpful. The room was very nice (only two bunk beds, four guests total) with a shared full bath with the adjoining room. The room had a sink in the room and lockers for valuables in the closet. You get sheets, towel, and a blanket for the base room price. They also have a downstairs locker room, which you can use free on the day you are staying/leaving that accommodates large luggage. There is a nice lounge with free internet access. I was happy to see that the staff was very careful to check everyone entering the building for a paid hostel receipt. If you stay more than three days, you get free breakfast. If you don't get up before 9:30, don't expect any bagels left but they always have bread for toast and jam until 11 a.m. The food, good coffee, and juice were well stocked by an attendant, even half and half. The best part of the hostel is the location -- very close to the underground, bus, and cable car stops. The hall shower needed someone to fix the fiberglass soap dish (cracked/mildewy) but besides that, everything was very clean and well maintained. You do see panhandlers on the street corners in that area of town but I never felt unsafe walking out at night. Overall, a great place at a fabulous price! I would definitely stay there again.
Look out for trouble
This Hostel is run by a twenty-nine-year-old manager who seems oblivious to the fact that his desk manager is a Meth addict. If the blonde guy behind the desk seems a bit too focused on organization, while being dismissive and snippy, you now now why. Do not trust him to remember your requests for a room change or anything like that -- he's much too busy smoking in the alley behind the hostel or in his room on the sixth floor. This hostel has a history of bad management and poor treatment of employees. If you are one to be oblivious of your surroundings, comfortable in a neighborhood peppered with crazies, and enjoy staying in places where management routinely harasses employees while hopped up on Meth -- this is the place for you. For all others, you can find much nicer quarters with similar prices at hotels in the city. Saving a few bucks is not worth the experience you are likely to have here.
Rick Rattman
Its ok, not great
Nice, clean, remodeled kitchen with plenty of space to cook and eat. New carpeting throughout. I had brand new furniture and sheet sets in my room but I am unsure of other rooms. Very good location with plenty of shopping and food. The front desk staff were not very friendly. After staying at many hostels, they seemed a bit dull and were not there to show guests a good time, they just wanted to do their job and leave. The bathrooms are horrible! Except for a handicapped bathroom that I found tucked in the corner of the building. The bathrooms inside the rooms do not have locks. There is a "knock policy" but nobody knows about it because there are no signs. The lockers are really really small and cant fit any luggage. You have to pay to use the iron which you have to go all the way down the many flights of stairs to get. All in all, I would not stay again.
Needs improvement
the building is old. my room only had one outlet and we all had to share. the lockers are too small to fit your luggage in. the bathrooms are not nice at all. the free breakfast is terrible. you have to pay for some items (muffins, fruit). the staff are nice. overall they could do a better job though. more information and assistance. they really just monitor and handle reservations. it is ok but not great.
Not the best -- but great location
Rooms were small, bunk beds not very sturdy, the common room is way too small and there didn't seem to be a TV room. The whole building has a worn out feeling to it. That said, the location is a dream.
Ben H

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