HI Fisherman's Wharf
Overlooking one of San Francisco’s most beautiful landscapes is the city’s best hotel bargain – so long as you aren’t squeamish about sharing a bathroom. Nestled in one of the Presidio’s historic army barracks, this Hostelling International location feels secluded even though it’s within walking distance of the bustle and excitement of Fisherman’s Wharf to the east and iconic Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge to the west. Whether you’d prefer a private room (without bath) or dorm (options range from four to 24 beds, co-ed or single-sex), you’ll have access to the hostel’s impressive amenities including a cozy, fireplace-warmed common area, 25-seat movie lounge, large kitchen, laundry facilities and outdoor patio. Breakfast at the on-site Cafe Franco is included.
San Remo Hotel
Formerly a home for those working on the docks, this quaint colonial-style structure is now a higgledy-piggledy hotel full of charm. There are 64 rooms of varying size and style – although most of them have chintzy floral wallpaper and bedspreads – with Oriental rugs and Victorian-inspired furniture scattered throughout. While some rooms have sinks, the bathrooms are shared – unless you splash out on the penthouse, a self-contained bungalow in the roof that has an en suite and a great view of North Beach. It's worth noting also that there is no elevator and no televisions.
The Metro Hotel
Centrally located near Alamo Square, Haight-Ashbury and the Panhandle, The Metro is one of the city’s best deals for those in need of a private bathroom. The eco-friendly hotel is clean but fairly no-frills – just 24 small, simple rooms with free wifi. You can’t beat the location, though, in a hip-but-friendly neighborhood with excellent restaurants, bars and several nearby must-see landmarks (like the famed Painted Ladies, a row of Victorian houses).
Hotel Del Sol
Saturated with color, this Joie de Vivre property is right at home in San Francisco’s beachy Marina District. One of only a handful of hotels in the city with a pool, Hotel del Sol’s bright and playful rooms are kid- and pet-friendly and feature modern technology, including free high speed wifi. Paid parking is available on-site.
The Golden Gate Hotel
A lovely, pet-friendly hotel in a visually unique, towering Edwardian building. Inside is just as charming as the exterior, with the odd floral touch – but not too much. There's an ancient, birdcage elevator to get you from floor to floor, free wifi throughout and complementary breakfast and afternoon tea with cookies. Union Square and the Theatre District are a few minutes' walk away, just remember to say hi and bye to The Golden Gate's resident cat Pip.
Inn at the Presidio
A National Historic Landmark, the Inn at the Presidio is nestled within its namesake park at the north end of the city—close enough to the action, but with comfortable distance between SF’s bustle. Its many amenities include a stunning golf course, countless scenic walking and hiking trails, and a cozy outside fire pit with Golden Gate views. The 22-room hotel also boasts a charm distinct from its competitors: the red brick facade and white columned porch offer cozy spot to people watch as the evening winds down.
Inspired by the Beat Generation of the mid-20th century, this boutique hotel expresses itself through dark and brooding public spaces, words printed on the walls and floors, a few mid-mod touches and typewriters. Situated in the heart of Union Square, guests can take in great theater, shopping, eating and drinking. Then cap off the night in the hotel's Obscenity Bar & Lounge, where there is regular live jazz and slam poetry.