The Green Tortoise is definitely a hostel that has been created with travelers in mind! The great facilities, free breakfast and internet, and the occasional free dinner ensure that it is a great deal. Organised activities, very helpful staff, the large communal area, and the location right in the middle of a bustling area of San Francisco will make your stay tons of fun.
At first glance the hostels location may seem a little suspect to say the least. The hostel's located amid the flashy lights of the nude dancing scene -- dont be shocked if it seems a bit sleazy. However, it's right near the busy restaurants, bars, and nightlife of Chinatown and Little Italy -- the area is bustling, safe, and fun. There are plenty of side streets to explore, full of interesting shops and places to eat and drink. Its about a twenty-minute walk to Fishermans Wharf and the Financial District (but the hills here aren't famous for nothing, so be warned). Alternatively Columbus Avenue is a fairly busy bus route, which is always nice for the way back. The bus is probably the best and cheapest way to get here when you arrive and they have a pretty thorough directions section on their website.
Rooms and Bathrooms
From our experience the rooms were a lot quieter and larger than expected. However, we can see how some of them could potentially be a bit louder and more cramped. That being said they were some of the best thought out rooms that we have stayed in. Solid wooden bunks ensure no wobbling or squeaking when others move around at night. There are separate reading lights, plenty of hooks, large lockable storage under the beds, and a basin in the room -- all that you really need.
The very clean bathrooms, which seem to have been redone recently, are plentiful on all the floors but are often all full at the busy times of the day -- so you may want to plan your shower times accordingly. Despite this, the wait is never too long.
The socializing centres around either the computer area or the large ballroom. Free and fast internet is available on a large number of computers -- some with Skype -- so even at really busy times there is only a short wait. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the hostel. The ballroom is where breakfast and the occasional suppers are served, bands play some evenings, and the movie and game nights are held. There is also a pool table, vending machines, and plenty of tables and chairs around the room.
The environmentally conscious kitchen is clean and well equipped with everything that you'll most likely need. Breakfast is sufficient -- bagels, toppings, fruit, and juice and coffee are available to start the day. The free dinners that are three nights a week are a bonus and the food is plentiful and delicious (you can help cook if you want). The staff are friendly and helpful and seem to be in touch with what travelers need (and need to know). They organise activities in the hostel for guests as well as a pub crawl for cheap drinks in spots around the area. They also ask everyone that comes in to show their key. The lockers in the rooms and in the ballroom mean your stuff should be safe.
Overall its a great hostel with a good atmosphere to meet other travelers and we would definitely recommend it.