The 8 Best Hotels in Downtown San Francisco

The best hotels in downtown San Francisco range from boutique and artsy to posh and historic
The best hotels in downtown San Francisco range from boutique and artsy to posh and historic | Courtesy of Fairmont San Francisco / Expedia
Photo of Lissa Townsend Rodgers
29 October 2020

Staying at a hotel in downtown San Francisco gives you access to three A’s: architecture, attractions and amenities. Centrally placed near the theater and financial districts, as well as Chinatown and the waterfront, downtown San Francisco is a neighborhood that offers endless variety. The area’s architecture ranges from the Art Deco wedding cake of the PacBell building to the sleek modernism of the Transamerica Pyramid. Its accommodation options are no less diverse. From boutique and artsy to posh and historic, here are the best hotels in downtown San Francisco.

Fairmont San Francisco

Business Hotel, Hotel
4.5/5 (1179 Reviews)
Courtesy of Fairmont San Francisco / Expedia
The Fairmont San Francisco hotel is perched above the city and the bay, offering expansive views, but what’s inside is just as stunning. Public areas are decorated in a luxe, distinctive style, from the Beaux Arts lobby to the marble-pillared Laurel Room to the legendary Tonga Room, with its tiki drinks, carved heads and bandstand floating on an indoor “lake” – an impressive sight that’s seen the venue win praise from the likes of the late Anthony Bourdain. Over 500 rooms and 60 suites are decorated in an elegant, lavish style.
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Golden Gate Hotel

Independent Hotel, Bed and Breakfast
Map View

A cozy, vintage-style hotel with a resident cat, the rosy pink brownstone of the Golden Gate Hotel holds two dozen guest rooms. Rooms are on the small side but have character; each is uniquely decorated in floral prints, and some come with free-standing clawfoot tubs. The hotel offers a free breakfast, as well as afternoon tea and is also pet-friendly.

Hotel des Arts

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
3.7/5 (875 Reviews)
Courtesy of Hotel des Arts / Expedia

With a different work of art in every room, as well as the lobby and hallways, the Hotel des Arts lives up to its name. A mix of short- and long-stay rooms are individually painted by local artists in styles from abstract and pop to graffiti and collage. An art gallery displays less permanent works. If you see one you like the look of, there’s even the chance to snap it up and take it home with you.

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Hotel Vertigo

Boutique Hotel
4.1/5 (996 Reviews)

If you are a fan of San Francisco’s film history, you may recognize Hotel Vertigo from its role in the Hitchcock classic – the film plays on a loop in the lobby. The decor is orange-tinted with quirky, slightly surrealistic touches, like glossy sculptures and a vertigo-inducing staircase. As it’s only a five-minute walk from Union Square, you’re never far from all the action.

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InterContinental Mark Hopkins

4.3/5 (912 Reviews)
Courtesy of InterContinental Mark Hopkins / Expedia
The ornate InterContinental Mark Hopkins opened in December of 1926 with a combination of French château and Spanish Renaissance architecture. The hotel has outstanding views, which are best appreciated from the Top of The Mark – a 1939-inspired cocktail lounge on the 19th floor of the hotel. Famous guests of the Mark Hopkins have included Dwight D Eisenhower, Elizabeth Taylor and the Rolling Stones.
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  • Kensington Park Hotel

    Boutique Hotel
    4.2/5 (997 Reviews)
    Kensington Park Hotel
    Courtesy of Kensington Park Hotel /

    Located near Union Square, the Kensington Park Hotel is elegantly decorated with crystal chandeliers and animal-print carpets. Afternoon tea and evening sherry are served daily beneath the vaulted ceiling of the lobby. The hotel shares a building with the San Francisco Playhouse, home to premieres and Off-Broadway productions.

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    Kimpton Sir Francis Drake

    Suite Hotel, Chain Hotel, Hotel
    Courtesy of Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel / Expedia
    One of Union Square’s classic hotels, the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake is a grand hotel, down to the costumed guards at the front door. Marble walls, gilded ceilings and crystal chandeliers make for stunning public spaces, all the way up to the buzzy Starlight Room bar on the 21st floor. Rooms are decorated in vivid colors with antique touches and high-tech amenities.
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    Hotel Adagio

    Boutique Hotel
    4.1/5 (727 Reviews)
    Courtesy of Hotel Adagio / Expedia

    The elaborate, vividly pastel-tinted facade of Hotel Adagio makes for a very welcome sight for weary travelers. For those seeking food and drink without venturing outside, the hotel’s in-house restaurant and bar (the Mortimer) serves unusual craft cocktails and has a small-plate menu with daily happy hours. Spacious, modern guest rooms – many with views of the city – have big-screen televisions and Bigelow bath products.

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    These recommendations were updated on October 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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