San Francisco International Hostel is the third biggest hostel in America, and rated as the best party hostel.
We arrived at around 11.30pm on a Wednesday. Check-in was uneventful, but my friend Corinna and I were split up into different rooms as we had used different credit cards to book our stay. I headed up to my room and gazed in bemusement at the four bunks before me. I honestly couldn’t figure out which one was supposed to be mine. One of them had a pillow without a pillowcase so I figured it must be mine and climbed awkwardly up the ladder to make it up with my sheets.
By this time I was exhausted. I’d flown with a connecting flight through Portland to get to San Francisco (I used points), so had been traveling since 2pm and I climbed into bed with a huge sigh of relief.
Five minutes later I was kicked out of bed. Turns out I’d been pulling a Goldilocks and sleeping in someone else’s bed. I dragged myself downstairs and the manager realized they’d overbooked the room. By this point I wasn’t in the greatest mood, but the manager gave me a private room, so Corinna moved in and we had a room all to ourselves.
This hostel is one of the biggest I’ve ever stayed in. Reservations aren’t taken over the phone in peak travel times, so beds are given out on a first-in, first-served basis.
The manager is a cool guy, and perpetually stuck in frat-boy mode, which keeps the party theme going. When we arrived he told us that the hostel is actually sponsored by some alcohol companies so they give out around $30,000 of alcohol each month, including tons of free beer and margarita mix, as well as shots of vodka.
One thing I will say is if you’re looking for a clean hostel you should look elsewhere. The bathrooms are tiny and have no sinks or soap just a bottle of hand sanitizer, and your shoes stick to the floor in the kitchen/dining area.
The owner would often say “we’re not the cleanest hostel around but we are the best party hostel”, which is absolutely true. The party starts every night at 9.30pm, and is announced fifteen minutes earlier by someone walking around the floors with a megaphone and yelling that the free beer is about to be given out. It can get pretty crazy-we both ended up soaked in alcohol, and water one night, but it’s a lot of fun since the basement has been turned into a dance floor, poker room, beer pong room and chess room. “Playing chess” is code for having sex in that room, instead of using the creaky bottom bunk and waking your roommates.
This hostel does have free wifi, which is a big plus for me, and also free pancakes and oatmeal for breakfast. Some of the hostel has been recently renovated, although our room hadn’t, and was looking a bit dingy.
One thing I wasn’t happy about, was the random bites that appeared on both Corinna and myself. Corinna’s got infected and we had to go to the pharmacy for antibiotic cream, and I also had an eye-infection, possibly from dust or whatever cleaning products they use on the sheets. We’re not completely sure that we were bitten by bed bugs, but mine did show up in rows of three, which are supposedly one of the signs (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
If you’re looking for a place to party hard, this is the hostel for you. If you’re a little older, or prefer a quiet hostel so you’re not tired and hungover the next day, consider choosing somewhere else to stay.
Party atmosphere *****