A trip to San Francisco can be a magical experience but completely dampened if you choose the wrong place to stay. Though hotel rates might sometimes be a little overwhelming, finding too-good-to-be-true deals may come with their own problems (think bed bugs). Culture Trip has created a list of hotels for all budgets – from options that won’t break the bank to luxurious accommodations – so that you’re sure to have a pleasant stay in the City by the Bay.
The Palace Hotel is a San Francisco landmark | Courtesy of Palace Hotel / Hotels.com
The Palace Hotel is a must-visit destination for those who prefer only the classiest of accommodations. The hotel’s lobby and dining room are some of the most lavish spaces in the city, complete with multiple Austrian crystal chandeliers, Italian marble columns and a dome ceiling. The Palace also houses one of San Francisco’s only indoor pools (important for those chilly SF summer days), and its on-site bar, The Pied Piper, is a perfect place for a nightcap.
The Huntington Hotel’s location couldn’t be better for those who are truly looking to treat themselves. Perched atop ritzy Nob Hill, the nearly century-old building is smack dab in the middle of one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods. As for the hotel itself, the Huntington prides itself on big rooms (something not a lot of other San Francisco accommodations can boast), a three-story spa and The Big 4 restaurant, which pairs fine dining with live piano performances.
The Lodge at the Presidio is billed as the closest lodging to the Golden Gate Bridge, and for good reason – it’s only 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) away from the San Francisco landmark. The newly renovated 42-room hotel is the sister property of the equally quaint Inn at the Presidio, and every room boasts views of the forest, bay, city, bridge or combination of the four.
Opening its doors in 2016, Staypineapple, An Elegant Hotel is one of the newest boutique hotels in the city. However, the building that houses its 93 rooms is a century old, and its exterior looks the part. As soon as guests step inside the lobby, they’re bombarded with gold accents and plush furniture. The rooms welcome visitors with vibrant yellow and gray tones, and an embroidered pineapple pillow inviting those who stay to “sleep with me.” The Lower Nob Hill hub also offers complimentary yellow beach cruisers to its patrons – for those who’d rather pedal up and down the neighborhood’s steep hills.
The Clift is for those who like their luxury with a dash of swagger. Designed by famed interior decorator Philippe Starck, the Union Square hotel features an impressive furniture collection, including pieces by Ray and Charles Eames and Salvador Dalí. The rooms are the definition of modern elegance; however, it’s the dining options that make The Clift a must-visit for anyone traveling to the Bay Area. The Art-Deco-inspired Redwood Room is pure glamour, and the Living Room – designed to evoke an old English club – makes for quite the relaxing nightcap.
No matter where in the world you’re staying, if it’s at a St Regis, you know you’re going to be greeted with luxury and unbeatable hospitality. The guest rooms are simple yet sophisticated in design and feature butler services upon request. The 260-room property lies in the heart of SoMa (South of Market) and adjacent to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of the African Diaspora, for those who’d like to pique their cultural curiosities. It’s also within walking distance from Union Square, for guests who prefer to spend their free time shopping.
San Francisco is a beautiful city and can feel a little compact for some. Hotel Drisco is for anyone who wants to bask in the city’s beauty without dealing with the traffic. Perched atop the hills of Pacific Heights, the rooms have incredible uninterrupted views in San Francisco. The hotel also offers fantastic amenities, including a nightly wine reception, gourmet continental breakfast and bikes for those who’d like to explore the nearby attractions.
Vibrant, funky and eco-friendly, Hotel Carlton feels more like hanging out at a friend’s house than staying at a hotel. The lobby features a hodgepodge of plush couches and cushy chairs, and bright colors and woven African masks adorn the guest rooms. Downstairs, the Saha Lounge offers Mediterranean tapas made from local ingredients and an extensive wine list, all while feeling like you’re hanging out in a neighborhood bar.
Did you know San Francisco has its own Japantown? Located just minutes from Union Square, Hotel Kabuki lies in the middle of this cultural neighborhood and fuses both cultures with an East-meets-West atmosphere. The bar places emphasis on Japanese whisky, sake and beer, while the Small Farms Breakfast highlights California cuisine. The hotel also houses a reflection koi pond, fireside seating and an outdoor meditation station.
The Inn at the Presidio is for those visitors who’d like a relaxing place to retreat after a day of exploring San Francisco. A National Historic Landmark, the 22-room boutique hotel lies in the tranquil park of the same name. The inn is home to a fire pit with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and is close to an impressive golf course and 24mi (38.6km) of scenic walking trails. It’ll almost make you forget you’re in one of the busiest cities in the country.
Historically, the Tenderloin wasn’t the most desirable San Francisco neighborhood; however, the area (adjacent to Union Square) is on the up and up thanks to the opening of high-end dining, shopping and hotel options, including the Tilden Hotel. The decor throughout reflects the hotel’s creative spin on minimalism, and on the first Tuesday of every month, it champions local artists with an art reception. Guests can sip coffee at the Tilden Café and enjoy a nightcap at The Douglas Room after a long day of sightseeing.
Taj Campton Place is in the heart of Union Square, making it easily accessible to the best shopping and restaurants in the city. However, the luxury hotel’s eponymous restaurant, helmed by Srijith Gopinathan, will make dining elsewhere hard to do. The Michelin-star eatery combines fresh, local ingredients with the spices and techniques of Indian cooking to create flavorful Cal-Indian cuisine.
The Fairmont San Francisco is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. The Nob Hill institution offers 606 guest rooms and suites that boast excellent views of the skyline and bay. The decadent decor in the lobby is balanced by the calming, earthy tones of the guest rooms, and the dining options are outstanding. Even for those who aren’t staying at the Fairmont, having dinner and drinks at the famous Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar are a must-do, as is Afternoon Tea.
Axiom Hotel is the right choice for eco-conscious travelers. The downtown San Francisco LEED-certified hotel boasts energy management systems that preserve power in unoccupied rooms, uses energy-efficient lighting, provides an abundance of recycling receptacles and more. Additionally, the minimalistic hotel also offers a library and game room, complete with an arcade.
The Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel doesn’t harp too much on its namesake (although the red-suited Beefeater doormen do make a nice touch). Instead, the hotel pairs trendiness with its old-world charm. Grand staircases spiral up from the lobby, and crystal chandeliers shimmer in the light. However, the 400-plus guest rooms come equipped with modern decor and amenities that make the accommodations as comfy as they are elegant.
Situated between Union Square and the Financial District, the Galleria Park Hotel is a newly renovated property from Joie de Vivre. The hotel group was thoughtful about the building’s history, uniting its early 20th-century foundation Art Nouveau design elements with a modern flair. The guest rooms are bathed in calming hues and contemporary decor, and the on-site restaurant, Gaspar Brasserie, offers some of the best Parisian fare in the city.
The first place that may come to mind when thinking of the San Francisco waterfront is Fisherman’s Wharf, but there are many other areas to stay that don’t come with the never-ending tourist traffic associated with the wharf. Hotel Vitale lies right next to the Embarcadero – a fantastic waterfront locale without the frenzy. The hotel features a penthouse level spa as well as waterfront dining at the on-site Americano Restaurant & Bar. For exploration, both Pier 14 and the expansive Ferry Building are just a short walk away.
Hotel Nikko provides Asian hospitality in the heart of Union Square. The hotel boasts gourmet Japanese dining at ANZU, entertainment at the on-site nightclub Feinstein’s and sophisticated libations in the KANPAI Lounge. Additionally, the property offers a 10,000-square-foot (929-square-meter) gym equipped with dry saunas and a steam room.
San Francisco Proper Hotel is one of the city’s newer establishments, opening its doors in 2017 in an effort to help renovate the Mid-Market neighborhood. Here, sophistication blends with innovation, complete with decor the juxtaposes simple blacks, creams, grays and wooden accents with striped and floral wallpapers. The hotel offers a variety of rooms, from modest bunk beds to premier suites. At 120ft (36.5m) above Market Street lies Charmaine’s, a rooftop bar, but if you’d prefer to stay on the ground level, dine on contemporary American food at the hotel’s Villon restaurant, helmed by chef Mikey Adams. If you don’t want to deal with driving (and parking) in the city, Proper Hotel is steps away from a BART station.
While Hotel G opened in 2015, the building has been standing tall in Union Square for over a century. The hotel preserves the same spirit as the Fielding Hotel (the first hotel to open at the site in 1909), with a simple, relaxed design and home-like feeling. The rooms are geared towards comfort, and the on-site bar, Benjamin Cooper, is a favorite for its handcrafted cocktails and fresh oysters. Hotel G also has a magnificent partnership with Creativity Explored. If you see a piece of art in your room that you like, you can buy it, with the proceeds benefiting the non-profit’s work with adults with developmental disabilities.
The Battery may be a private club, but it also acts as a 14-suite luxury boutique hotel. Each room features state-of-the-art amenities, and anyone who stays at the hotel also has access to the exclusive club. For those looking to really live it up, book The Penthouse. The 6,200sq ft (576sq m) space boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed-steel beams, a walk-in closet, fireplace, full kitchen and patio.
Though historic hotels abound in San Francisco, Hotel Zetta isn’t one of them. The SoMa property takes pride in its ultramodern accommodations, complete with eco-friendly amenities and found art strewn throughout the building. Its on-site restaurant, The Cavalier, specializes in upscale British cuisine, and The Playroom is a space for adults to unwind with billiards, shuffleboard and a 30ft (9m) Plinko wall. If you stay here, you may never want to venture out of the hotel.
If you like music, Hotel Zeppelin is the place to stay. It’s all about embracing San Francisco’s counterculture tradition, and it shows in the decor, with each room adorned with pop culture artwork and equipped with a vintage record player. The front desk even has a library of records guests can check out for free. The on-site restaurant, the Rambler, offers California fare, and The Mantel Bar is a great place to relax after an evening of exploring the surrounding neighborhoods. Afterward, crawl into your bed and let the sounds of classic vinyl lull you to sleep.
Those who stay at The Laurel Inn may feel like they’re living in a luxury studio apartment; some of the rooms feature a kitchenette. The boutique hotel is tucked away in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, providing accommodations for those uninterested in staying in bustling Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf, while still being close to the best San Francisco sights. Each room has gorgeous views of the bay or city.
The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco sits on the fringe of Union Square and Chinatown, and like the other properties that share its name, this hotel exudes luxury. From the ornate columned exterior to the crystal chandeliers inside, the Ritz-Carlton is the epitome of class. Guests can enjoy Mediterranean-inspired spa amenities at Spa L’OCCITANE by the Bay and dine on globally inspired California cuisine at Parallel 37, before taking a stroll and exploring the bustling neighborhood.