Staying at a hotel in Downtown San Francisco gives you access to three A’s: architecture, attractions, and amenities.
Centrally located to 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
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Fairmont Hotel | Courtesy of Fairmont Hotel / Hotels.com
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.
Golden Gate Hotel | Courtesy of Golden Gate Hotel/Booking.com
A cozy, vintage-styled 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 are 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.
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.
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.
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 décor is orange-tinted with quirky, slightly surrealistic touches, like glossy sculptures and a vertigo-inducing staircase. As it’s only a five-minutes walk from Union Square, you’re never far from all the action.
The ornate InterContinental Mark Hopkins opened in December of 1926 with a combined French chateau 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.
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, while the intimate Farallon restaurant serves a full menu. The hotel shares a building with the San Francisco Playhouse, home to premieres and Off-Broadway productions.
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.