SAN FRANCISCO — During the last few years independent youth accommodation services have been springing up in many cities to compete with low-cost lodging offered by the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF).
San Francisco now has two alternative low-budget lodging services. They offer advantages such as fewer people sharing rooms and absence of curfews, but they still can't compete with the terrific location of the federation hostel at Ft. Mason.
The alternative low-budget lodgings are operated by International Network Hostels (INH). The network also operates shoestring budget accommodations in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. INH plans to expand to Fiji.
INH offers two kinds of budget lodging. Its "hostels" have dormitory-style rooms, kitchen and .dining areas, and cost $7 to $9 a night. Hostel rooms are closed between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. They also operate "cotels" that have shared and private room accommodations for $10 to $30 a night. In "cotels" each guest has a key and can come and go, day and night.
In San Francisco the network operates the Mission Cotel at 1906 Mission St., phone 864-6629, and the Ellis Cotel at 225 Ellis St., phone (415) 441-8454.
(Other INH locations include the Waikiki Hostel, 2051 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki, Hawaii, phone (808) 955-5457; Sunset Beach Cotel, 59-788 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, Hawaii, phone (808) 638-7839; Kings Cross Cotel, 170 Victoria St., Sydney, Australia, phone 356-3844, and Constitution Hill Cotel, 6 Constitution Hill, Auckland, New Zealand, phone 34-768.)
The Mission Street Cotel when I visited had a fresh paint job and new wall-to-wall broadloom. There were 30 two-bed rooms and the rate was $10 a night. They were limiting admittance to persons traveling internationally by asking to see a passport. Major drawbacks were floor-level bedding and the downtown location.
The IYHF hostel at Ft. Mason has a much more pleasant location, in a registered federal historic building only a five-minute walk from Fisherman's Wharf. Because it's on park land you do not need an IYHF membership to use the facilities and there are no age restrictions.
The Ft. Mason hostel can accommodate up to 163 travelers. The rate is $8 a night. Beds go quickly, so try to get there close to the 7 a.m. opening. Telephone reservations are not accepted and written reservations must be made two weeks in advance. Deposits are not refundable.
Contact San Francisco International Hostel, Building 249, Box A, Ft. Mason, San Francisco 94123. If the hostel is full they can supply you with a list of alternative low-cost lodgings.
View of the Bay
This hostel offers a kitchen and dining area with a view of San Francisco Bay. The staff does a good job of posting information on what to see and do in the area and on Sunday nights the park staff provides a slide presentation.
The hostel is closed between 2 and 4:30 p.m. and there is a midnight curfew. On Friday and Saturday nights you can arrange to stay out until 2 a.m. by paying an extra $1.
This year the hostel has expanded its shuttle service to other youth hostels along that part of the California Coast. Some shuttle services will only be operated for a minimum of five travelers. Service to the Golden Gate YH costs $1.50, to Montara Lighthouse YH, $2.50, Pigeon Point Lighthouse YH, $4 and the youth hostel at the Point Reyes National Seashore, $4.
You can reach the Ft. Mason YH from the airport by public bus or on a $7 airport shuttle service. Several shuttle services operate from the airport but only Super Shuttle is allowed to enter the park and take you to the hostel door.