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Choosing a place to stay in San Diego on a tight budget

Updated on December 19, 2010

Sunset from the verandah at the R.K. Hostel

The sun was just setting as I arrived at the R. K. Hostel. I took a seat and watched as the sun decended below the horizon.
The sun was just setting as I arrived at the R. K. Hostel. I took a seat and watched as the sun decended below the horizon.

Hostel stay becomes delightful experience

I will admit, I was apprehensive about taking lodgings at a hostel. I had visions of being trapped in a dorm room with six or more young and wild party animals who would make it impossible to get a decent night's sleep. Oh there are hostels that will offer you that experience I am sure. I was pleasantly surprised when I was shown a room that was very nicely appointed but basic with french doors that offered a view of the harbor and a glorious view of the setting sun each evening. And for this, I paid 18 dollars a night to share a four person room and a shared bath.

It is the off season and at the time, my room was not fully occupied and, even if it had been, I found the hostel accommodations charming, breezy and comfortable. A bit like a rambling beach house with a verandah and rear deck and swaying palm trees that offer a very pleasing scent.

You must be somewhat adaptable in order to stay at a hostel. It is not for those who expect pampering from a hotel staff who wait on you hand and foot. Hostels are not for the high maintenance traveler.18 dollars a night gets you very basic bed and shower facilities in a community setting. if you are comfortable with that then you will enjoy the hostel experience.

Below are a few more photographs I took of my room and the exterior and some interior pictures. These are not commercial pictures. I took these myself.

This is an exterior shot of the R.K. Hostel from the street

Having a good hostel experience begins with a new friendship

I was lucky enough to share my room with a young college student from Boston, We had something in common right away because I had grown up in New England and we are both Irish.  He was 24 and I am almost 58 but that did not matter. It was a pleasure to find a young man who could carry on many long conversations about a variety of subjects, If he is an example of the newest generation of adults, I have a better feeling for the future of the country. I don't want to embarass him so I am going to withhold his name. But I had a profound good feeling about meeting someone so young who was kind and respectful and also a lot of fun to be with.

That is another reason why I would suggest that seniors might enjoy mixing it up with some young folk once in a while. It certainly gives you a new perspective on life. I know it offered me a new perspective. Young people still like to party of course and I was in bed by 10 while my roomie was out there taking in the night life with his younger friends. But I didn't hear a peep when he came back in the wee hours.

Having a kitchen to use saves a bundle on food expenses

I found the community kitchen to be more than adequate. The only thing lacking might be a few more cooking pans but I managed to make myself a fine breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs. I managed to keep my food budget to 4 to 5 dollars a day. I bought sandwich makngs and saved a fortune in fast food or restaurant costs. I did go and find a nice local taqueria a few blocks north of the hostel that made fine burittos and quesadillas for about 5 dollars and so big I could split one and microwave it for the next night.

There was a wonderful sun deck upstairs and I took my meals outside in the breezy sunshine. I also managed to view some magnificent sunsets at dinnertime beacuse this hostel was located just a few blocks from the harbor and you can see the water and the boats from the marina.

Rear deck offers view of San Diego Waterfront and Pacific Sunsets

Location Location Location

Of course the most important feature of R.K. Hostel is the location. I walked to everywhere I needed or wanted to go. The waterfront Embarcadero and Balboa Park were within reasonable walking distance but if you prefer not to walk more than a mile, the city has a very efficient bus system. The hostel is located in this wonderful neighborhood called little Italy. I will warn you it is also near the airport and jets fly in low but that is the case for the entire downtoiwn area, so no matter where you stay in San Diego, the sound of jets flying overhead is something you get used to. My sleep was never disturbed by external sounds beyond normal city noise. If you want absolute tranquility, you probably ought to find a cabin out in the woods.

I managed to find local food stores and the ubiquitous 7 eleven. I suggest trying a few of the local stores. The prices were reasonable and if you want to find bargains I will have a hub devoted to shopping later on.

Room with a view

This was my bed during my stay. The french dooroffer aview out toward the west to the waterfront
This was my bed during my stay. The french dooroffer aview out toward the west to the waterfront

Hostel feels like home

I like the modern urban life but I also enjoy the smaller scale type of living. That is why I enjoyed this particular hostel experience because this was more like a living in a house on the beach than a modern high rise structure in the center of the city and yet I did not feel isolated from the city center because it was so close at hand. San Diego is a very walkable city, dare I say almost more walkable that San Francisco..

If you want to reserve a bed at the R. K Hostel you can go to I must make it clear this review is unsolicited. I just enjoyed myself and my experience and I wish to share my pleasurable experience with seniors who might be apprehensive about booking a bed at a hostel. Look carefully at each web site and description of hostel accomodations and read the reviews and make the choice for yourself but if you want to stretch yourself a little and try something new that will allow you to travel on a budget, I recommend the hostel experience.


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