Finding a decent place to stay in San Francisco on a budget is no easy feat, but it can be done. Hotels constantly offer promotional rates, and if you’re okay with exploring a neighborhood away from the main tourist areas, you can find quaint accommodations in Hayes Valley, Castro, Sunset and Haight-Ashbury that won’t break the bank.
Hayes Valley Inn
There are seven rooms at the Hayes Valley Inn | Courtesy of Hayes Valley Inn / Hotels.com
Hayes Valley is the hottest neighborhood in San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find a hotel there. The Hayes Valley Inn is a great option for any traveler who’s tired of staying in SoMa or Union Square, but would still like those areas to be accessible (it’s about 1.5 miles away from the heart of Union Square). And this hotel is smack bang in the middle of the neighborhood. The European-style inn only offers seven rooms, ranging from twin beds to deluxe queen, and the bathrooms are shared. In turn, the prices are cut. So you can spend your money on that tour of Alcatraz or a delectable French dinner at the neighboring Absinthe Brasserie & Bar.
Like the Hayes Valley Inn, The Metro Hotel is nestled in the center of a hip neighborhood that doesn’t offer anything excessive in terms of accommodations. The Lower Haight establishment is known to be one of the best affordable boutique hotels in the city and urges visitors to “live like a local.” Situated between Haight-Ashbury, Alamo Square and the Panhandle park, the small, environmentally friendly hotel is in easy range of numerous shops, restaurants, bars and attractions – without the touristy feel of Union Square.
The Harbor Court Hotel sits on the Embarcadero, just a short walk away from the Ferry Building. The 1926 property boasts a gorgeous view of the Bay Bridge, and that’s not all. Though the hotel was built nearly a century ago, it’s all been recently remodeled. Guests can enjoy state-of-the-art tech in their future-meets-past rooms, and sip complimentary beer and wine each evening at the hotel café before treating themselves to a Japanese dinner at the on-site restaurant Ozumo. The Harbor Court Hotel promotes self-care as much as it promotes treating yourself. Next door is the Spanish Colonial Revival building that was the Navy-Army YMCA residence in its previous life, and the newly remodeled facility is free to hotel guests – fitness studio, full-size pool and all. Additionally, each room is equipped with its own yoga mat for those who like to get their fitness on privately. But possibly the best part about this hotel is its rates. Travelers will be hard-pressed to find the same amenities and prime location for a cheaper price.
The Ocean Park Motel is the perfect option for travelers who’d prefer to stay near the beach rather than in Union Square. Priding itself on being “San Francisco’s first motel,” the 1937 establishment is located in the Sunset neighborhood, just a block away from Ocean Beach. Some rooms offer kitchen units, but all guests are able to enjoy the two gardens and hot tub on the grounds, and the Art-Deco-meets-nautical themed rooms are any creative’s dream.
Hotel Del Sol lives up to its name. The property (owned by Joie De Vivre) is soaked in vibrant colors that match its location in the Marina District. What once was a 1950s motor lodge is now a child- and pet-friendly establishment, and one of only a handful of San Francisco hotels to offer a pool. Though not as central as Union Square, Hotel Del Sol is easily accessible to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Presidio park and the Golden Gate Bridge. And much quieter than the bustling neighborhoods that surround it.
Although the Tenderloin is on the up, thanks to the openings of high-end restaurants and shops, it’s still one of the grittier neighborhoods in San Francisco. As such, the Tilden Hotel is a welcome addition to the area. The hotel prides itself on its modernity and take on minimalism, as well as championing local artists with a weekly event series. Guests can sip coffee at the Tilden Café and enjoy a nightcap at The Douglas Room after a long day of exploring the city and shopping at the adjacent Union Square.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a San Francisco hotel with a pool, but that’s just one of the many perks Phoenix Hotel has to offer. The swanky motor court-style hotel evokes a 1950s beach vibe and is the go-to for traveling musicians playing the nearby Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and Great American Music Hall. Th hotel even “describing itself as “a temporary home to musicians and other artistic vagrants.” The rooms have as much retro character as the property’s exterior, and the on-site Chambers restaurant is a great place to eat and drink whether you’re staying at the Phoenix or not. The prices vary here depending on the time of year, so keep your eyes peeled for a good deal.
When the Chancellor Hotel on Union Square first opened in 1914, built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, it was the tallest hotel building in San Francisco. Though it no longer boasts that title, the historic 137-room property prides itself in being one of the only family-run hotels in the city. Aside from friendly service, the Chancellor offers a complimentary pillow menu to assure a good night’s sleep and free access to the neighboring Active Sports Club fitness center for guests.
Hotel Zephyr is an affordable option for those who want to stay by the water, especially for anyone with kids in tow. From its colorful maritime theme and art-filled courtyard to its indoor game room, which includes ping-pong and billiards, this hotel is perfect for younger visitors. (It even has an on-site food truck.) For the older guests, the room views can’t be beaten. The Bay is just outside the window and stretches as far as the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge. Zephyr’s close proximity to Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 shopping center and the beach at Aquatic Park are also major perks.