The San Diego Hostel Story…


This morning we were talking about Ebates on Facebook and it reminded me that I haven’t told you about my San Diego trip yet. I mean, you knew I went – but I haven’t told you all the juicy details. 😉

Especially about staying in a hostel, and how much FUN that was!

The location was PERFECT and the experience was AMAZING…

Low Carb Traveler aka Lynn Terry in San Diego

You should stay in a hostel… at least once in your lifetime.

Don’t you agree?! 😉

Well maybe not just ANY hostel, lol – but this particular one is IDEAL if you want a FUN trip to enjoy San Diego. Especially if you’re traveling alone!

It’s great for families, couples and groups too – because there were plenty of those there, along with solo travelers from all over the world.

HI San Diego Hostel Review

This actually wasn’t my first time, but my second. A couple of years ago I stayed at the Nashville Hostel one night when I first kicked off my year-long Fear Facing venture.

Remember all my crazy off-trail hiking adventures, like climbing Machine Falls and scaling the Caney Fork River Gorge?! Yeah, THAT year -lol.

(I miss all of that, VERY much, but we’ll get back to that in a future post.)

Anyway, the Nashville Hostel ended up being a lot cooler than I expected and totally changed my perception of this cool little travel option!

Especially considering I’m usually the type to stay in a fluffy Hilton. 😛

Fast forward a couple of years, when I was booking this trip last month – actually, let me backtrack and say I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to make this trip.

I kept going back and forth on it.

I was going out to San Diego to scout a huge conference in my industry.

I’ve been in business for 21 years now and I’m an international speaker, professional blogger and online marketing consultant. I’ve been doing less speaking and consulting for the last year or so, and it feels like I have one foot pointed one way and the other in a totally different direction, in regards to the next big step with my career.

I did a quick assessment of all the travel details & options, plus my business objectives, and decided I could easily make this trip an investment vs just an expense.

That was important to me, because I’ve been working toward getting debt-free and making some big decisions in my personal life / lifestyle at the same time.

I’m at a fork in the road on that too, deciding whether I want to invest more in my home – or sell and go minimalist, like back to a lakehouse deep in the woods again. 🙂

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with me lately!

Will I stay or will I go? Do I love it here, or do I want a low maintenance condo in the city – or an even lower maintenance quiet little cabin in the woods by a river?

I have no idea yet. 🙂

Back to this trip though…

The conference was in the San Diego Convention Center and all the hotels within walking distance were booked up with three huge conferences going on at once.

I’ve stayed at most of them, and the idea of being locked in a small room on the 10th floor of yet another hotel just didn’t appeal to me. Especially the Hardrock Hotel across the street from the venue, because that place is LOUD 24/7. 😛

Everything was booked solid, within walking distance anyway – and I had already decided that was definitely a priority. I wanted to be able to freely come and go, and also get in a couple of miles of walking each day on my trip.

Then I spotted the HI San Diego Hostel within half a mile of the convention center, right in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter and an easy walk to practically anywhere!

I cashed in the points from my Southwest Card which totally took care of my round trip airfare to San Diego and back. And flying with Southwest Airlines you never have to pay for checked luggage, saving you $25-$50 each way.

Which meant, if I decided to stay in the hostel (which has a full kitchen), I could easily pack plenty of low carb snacks & foods for the week too. Bingo! 🙂

I booked the trip for less than $20 out of pocket upfront, including an amazing deal at the HI San Diego Hostel. I paid a little extra for a private room, but I decided I’d rather have my own room this time vs bunking with other travelers.

I had no idea what to expect of course, other than the photos I saw on the website when I booked, at the same link I shared with you above.

This was as much about the experience for me as it was “a great deal” and of course a super convenient location. I definitely wanted to be “money smart” on the trip, but also ENJOY the entire experience.

So instead of taking the usual cab or shuttle from the airport, I booked a black car service with Royal Knights Limousine. 🙂 It was coordinated by Legends Limousine based here in Nashville, and every bit as wonderful as the video that sold me on it:


How’s that for FUN? haha, having a professional chauffeur sweep you off to your hostel?! 🙂 I will say… that ride was worth EVERY PENNY.

Later in my trip I tried Uber, which in comparison was quite scary. 😯

My ride with Royal Knights though was definitely top-notch. 😉

San Diego Black Car Service

I got there, checked in, unpacked and got comfortable after a long day of traveling, and took a tour of the three-story hostel before I got cleaned up for dinner.

The place was immaculate, and it was also very quiet.

It was huge, roomy, modern and just all around super cool. Every bit as nice as it appears in the photos on their website, but actually way better than I expected – even after checking it out in detail & reading all the great reviews.

After traveling all day I felt a bit like this lady on the wall, lol. 🙂

My experience at the HI San Diego Hostel in the Gaslamp Quarter

Notice the travel mug in my hand? The HI San Diego Hostel is a couple doors down from a CVS Pharmacy. Talk about convenient!

The hostel has a huge kitchen with free coffee & tea 24/7, plus free breakfast every morning too. So I got a mug from CVS and made a nice hot coffee in the kitchen.:)

They have great security too. In my hand with the coffee is my check-in pass & room key. They’re strict about people coming in off the street, and have a “no company allowed” policy – so you know everyone in the building is screened and approved.

Do you want to know my FAVORITE part about this hostel?

Which I have to say… is definitely one of the NICEST hostels you may ever find.

I learned a tip on that too: you want to book a Hostelling International hostel specifically, as they have higher standards and stricter inspection policies.

Anyway, the staff was amazing (friendly & fun!), the location was PERFECT, and the kitchen was HUGE – with an even bigger dining & commons area full of interesting people to meet & chat with if you felt like being social.

San Diego Hostel with Full Kitchen and Free Coffee 24/7


But my FAVORITE part… was my bed. 🙂

Unfortunately I didn’t have my bed made in this picture lol, but this is the private room I booked. And my bed was CRAZY SOFT with four big thick pillows and extra blankets.

It was SOOO nice! 🙂

Gaslamp Quarter Hostel, San Diego (Private Room)

I didn’t expect much when I first walked in, but the first time I crawled in that bed… I was in HEAVEN, lol. I had the best four nights sleep in a row there!!

It was definitely much nicer than the co-ed bunks in Nashville.;)

I stayed on the 3rd floor in a private room, which is the same floor as the kitchen and commons area so that was super convenient.

If you ignore this goofy (blurry) shot of me, you can see how roomy the hallways are and how CLEAN it is. It’s not at all cramped and dark and dirty like you might expect a hostel to be. 😉

Best Hostel in San Diego

The kitchen had a large refrigerator where you could keep your own things. Everyone just marked them with their name, or put them in a bag with their name on them.

Most of my snacks were portable anyway, but it was nice to have a “social area” to hang out and eat and meet other travelers as they came and went.

Traveling Low Carb in San Diego

Of course the HI San Diego Hostel is on Market Street, near the corner of Fifth Avenue, so when you come out the door you’re right in the heart of the Gaslamp district with endless restaurants to choose from.

The location was IDEAL – totally perfect.

Market Street San Diego

And it’s just a few blocks, less than half mile, to the San Diego Convention Center.

That made it easy for me to come and go freely, without having to book or find transportation, even in heels. 🙂

San Diego Traveler

The Gaslamp Quarter was such a fun area, bustling with people and neat things to explore.

One of my favorite spots was just around the corner from the hostel, a warm little cigar shop with locals and travelers alike coming in and out.

The sweet smell of cigars drew me in out of the cold, where I met a tired old dog who got served a glass of water – and his owner who was full of interesting stories. 🙂

Cigar Shop Gaslamp Quarter

I actually spent quite a bit of my time in the hostel because unlike a stuffy hotel – it was very open, comfortable and full of cool people.

I walked the halls and explored all the art, which was either donated by local artists or by artists who had stayed there. It added so much character to the place!

Like this one, one of my favorites:

San Diego HI Hostel Artwork

Or this one, which caught my eye and drew me in:

San Diego HI Hostel - Paintings by Local Artists

Of course I got out plenty too!

I attended the conference, went to a social schmoozing on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, and met up with friends for dinner in the evenings – like my girl friend Alice from Vancouver:

Gaslamp Quarter San Diego - Traveling Low Carb


I thought it was cool that this particular hostel is part of a non-profit organization, and all the work they do to encourage (and help) young people to travel more and get to experience more of the world.

HI San Diego Hostel

I was fully prepared to check right back out and find a hotel if I had to, because you never really know what to expect with a hostel – or I didn’t!

But this was a FABULOUS experience, start to finish.

I had so much fun, and so much freedom with the location being central to all the Downtown San Diego happenings, and had the BEST sleep I’d had in ages. 🙂

I headed home rested, happy, and with a GREAT trip behind me!

Flying Southwest Airlines

If you are ever going to be in San Diego for work OR for pleasure, I highly recommend staying at the HI San Diego Hostel on Market Street.

I booked my stay through Hostel World at this link where you can see they have free wi-fi, free breakfast, 24/7 free coffee, etc.

There were people of all ages staying there, from single international travelers to young couples and older couples and even whole families.

I especially loved the HUGE kitchen and the 24 hour coffee service. With GOOD coffee, mind you. 😉

They had social events too which was nice. I didn’t attend any of those, but the staff and all the people staying there were super friendly, so if I hadn’t been busy with my work there I definitely would have.

Have you ever stayed in a hostel, or done something totally out of your comfort zone – and LOVED it?!

I love everything about traveling, and sometimes the trip even more than the destination! For me it’s all about the experience, from the places to the people, and everything in between…

– and this was definitely a good one!

I’m curious what you think, and if you would ever consider staying in a hostel, or staying in this one if you’re ever in the San Diego area? 🙂

Lynn Terry,
aka @LowCarbTraveler

Here’s the link to sign up for Ebates & get a $10 credit. 🙂


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About Lynn Terry

I love making the low carb diet EASY for people with a busy lifestyle (like me!) with my KISS / Keep It Simple method. :) About Lynn Terry: Host of the Low Carb Challenge
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3 Responses to The San Diego Hostel Story…

  1. Joni Charron says:

    I’m 60 years old and recently stayed in a hostel in Nashville and also had a great experience. I was “iffy” about being able to attend a big birthday bash which happened to be on the weekend of the CMA (awards show). Hotel rooms were $500+ a night with an additional $50 to park your card. I researched and read reviews and even called the hostel and booked with them for under $50 with free parking (this was not the downtown hostel but one a few miles out). I ubered to the party location and had a blast and a lot of $$ in my pocket. The San Diego hostel sounds amazing so thanks for the great tip.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      I’ll have to check out that other hostel, Joni – I didn’t know there was another one! The one downtown was really convenient for me when I went to a concert at the Ryman. It had such a fun “music city” community atmosphere too. 🙂

      You were smart. Hotels can be outrageous downtown, much less during CMA week! I’m so glad you had a great experience too. The San Diego hostel on Market Street was definitely NICE, so do stay there sometime if you get a chance.

      Getting a private room was like the best of both worlds for me, a fun community atmosphere with all the amenities (full kitchen, wi-fi & coffee, etc) with privacy too. And such a great location!!

      After two great experiences in a row I’ll definitely be checking out other hostels on my travels in the future. I’ve always loved the idea of community living. The concept more than the reality I’m sure, but it’s fun for a few days at a time! 😉

  2. Pingback: Why I Gained Weight Eating Keto & What I’m Going To Do About It | Traveling Low Carb

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