Saturday, February 7, 2009

Marin Headlands HI Hostel

The Marin Headlands HI hostel is located in the beautiful Marin Headlands, a part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The hostel is a converted hospital on a former military base built to fortify the San Francisco bay. The park contains plenty of paths for hiking and is a quiet respite from San Francisco. The following picture shows the beach a short walk from the hostel and visitor center.

The hostel has a huge sitting area, which was nicely furnished and surprisingly modern for such an old building. The hostel felt nearly empty, and offered an atmosphere of a slower pace to life than my stay in downtown San Francisco. Another couple staying in the hostel were enjoying their "staycation" the weekend after New Years. The hostel was also conveniently located near Sausalito and Muir Woods, both beautiful spots.

The staff were very friendly, and the hostel is in a great natural location, but you probably want a car to get there.

HI San Francisco: Downtown

I stayed at the San Francisco: Downtown hostel over new years, and had mixed feelings about the hostel. The foyer just inside the entrance has a cool changing map displayed on the wall, and the map zooms in and out on the San Francisco area. There are a few couches in the foyer, but it isn't a large area. The people at the front desk will check visitors for reservations, but I found it lax when there are a large number of people waiting to check-in. The hostel has an old elevator, left over from when the building was a hotel. The hostel still displays the "Hotel Virginia" sign, which is kind of odd. [See here]

My room was in the front of the building and contained two bunk beds and an attached bathroom. I rarely used the bathroom since the window didn't seem to close properly and it could get quite cold. Below you can see my room, a little dishevelled.

There were two bathrooms across the hall in the interior of the building which were perfectly usable, but one night I think someone slept in one of the bathrooms and locked the door. The room was kind of noisy due to it being right on the street, but it was nice to have so few people in my room. The hostel offered a very simple continental breakfast consisting mostly of toast, bagels, and coffee. I believe the hostel had wifi, but I don't really remember using it all that much.