The best hotels in San Francisco

Headed to the City by the Bay? From luxe suites to budget-friendly rooms, these are the best hotels in San Francisco.
Garden Court at the Palace Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy Palace Hotel
By John Vlahides and Shoshi Parks |
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Sure you could stay at the Hyatt or the Hilton, but some of the best hotels in San Francisco are boutique or historic locations. Whether you're visiting, hosting family or booking a staycation, there's something suitable in every neighborhood and price range. Book something downtown to be near the best attractions, or the North Beach neighborhood to be near touristy Fisherman's Wharf. Either way, try to check off the best things to do in the city from a comfy base at one of the best hotels in San Francisco.

Cheap hotels in San Francisco

Hotel room with bunk beds
Photograph: Yelp/ Terika T
Hotels, Hostels

HI Fisherman's Wharf

icon-location-pin Fort Mason

Overlooking one of San Francisco’s most beautiful landscapes is the city’s absolute best hotel bargain - as long as you aren’t squeamish about sharing a bathroom. Nestled in one of the Presidio’s historic army barracks, Hostelling International’s Fisherman’s Wharf location feels secluded even though it’s within walking distance from 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. Book Online

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San Remo Hotel
Photograph: Alyssa Pereira
Hotels

San Remo Hotel

icon-location-pin North Beach

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.

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Metro Hotel sign
Photograph: Yelp/Jy B
Hotels

The Metro Hotel

icon-location-pin Lower Haight

Centrally located near Alamo Square, Haight-Ashbury and the Panhandle, the Metro Hotel 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).

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Mid-range hotels in San Francisco

Hotel room
Photograph: Yelp/ Hotel del Sol
Hotels

Hotel Del Sol

icon-location-pin Cow Hollow

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 San Francisco hotels 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.  

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Golden Gate Hotel
Photograph: Wei Shi
Hotels, B&Bs

The Golden Gate Hotel

icon-location-pin Union Square

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.

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Hotels, Boutique hotels

Inn at the Presidio

icon-location-pin 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.

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Hotel Rex
Photograph: Yelp/Hotel Rex
Hotels, Boutique hotels

Hotel Rex

icon-location-pin Union Square

Inspired by the literary salons of the early 20th century, this eclectic boutique hotel in the heart of Union Square’s Theater District is bursting with the paintings and writings of legendary writers. Downstairs in the library bar, the Hotel Rex hosts frequent readings and cabaret events. Upstairs, standard rooms (with a queen or king size bed) and one-room suites, are styled with the checkered curtains and mismatched patterns of bohemian Paris and accented with high-speed wifi, iPod docks and flat screen TVs.

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Hotel Boheme
Photograph: Hans Kwiotek
Hotels, Boutique hotels

Hotel Bohème

icon-location-pin North Beach

This 120-year old hotel, extensively renovated in 1995, is a tribute to late-1950s North Beach when the neighborhood was a hotbed of Beat Culture. Allen Ginsberg, one of the era’s most famous figures, even called Room 204 of the Boheme home in his final years. Ginsberg may be gone but he, and his fellow Beats, live on in the photos, poetry and sheet music that adorn the hotel’s rooms and hallways. In true North Beach fashion, most rooms are small but smartly styled in vintage color schemes and wrought iron. You can’t beat the location among the neighborhood’s plentiful sidewalk cafes but leave the car at home; parking in North Beach is a nightmare.

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Hotel bathroom
Photograph: Yelp/Axiom Hotel
Hotels, Boutique hotels

Axiom Hotel

icon-location-pin Richmond

The Axiom Hotel offers modern style at a great price. Located steps from Market Street, San Francisco’s main downtown thoroughfare, minimalist rooms are outfitted with fiber-optic wifi, smart TVs and complimentary iPads and iPod docking stations. The hotel’s airy lobby is complete with a marble-topped bar at the Turn Cafe and a cozy library stocked with plush chairs and leather couches. This hip, inviting hotel also has a well-stocked gym and a game room with arcade games and a foosball table.

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The Alise hotel entrance
Photograph: Yelp/The Alise
Hotels, Spa hotels

Staypineapple at The Alise San Francisco

icon-location-pin Richmond

The Alise combines sumptuous drama with an eco-friendly ethic. Draped in gold tones and plush fabrics, the dramatic lobby and its Pineapple Bistro manage to be posh without feeling overdone. Their 93 rooms are simple but elegant and the Alise takes extra care to assure all linens, including duvets, are always clean and extra soft; they even provide fluffy robes and slippers, the latter of which they encourage you to bring home. Downstairs, the hotel offers free custom yellow bikes for exploring the city from this Lower Nob Hill hub.

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Luxury hotels in San Francisco

Hotel room with one bed
Photograph: Yelp/Fairmont San Francisco
Hotels, Chain hotels

Fairmont

icon-location-pin Nob Hill

Everything about this classy hotel screams San Francisco, from the Julia Morgan-designed building and gorgeous bay views to the state-of-the-art wellness spa and the iconic tiki bar in the basement. Thanks to a refurb in 2014, each of the Fairmont's rooms were decorated in calming, earthy tones, dark wood and marble. If you're willing to splash out – an we mean really blow some bucks – the 1920s-designed Presidential Suite is the stuff of San Francisco legend. Covering the entire eighth floor, it has a secret exit through a movable bookcase to a rooftop helipad that's now home to four honeybee hives and a herb garden. For a much more affordable treat, don’t miss dinner or drinks at the iconic Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, a tiki bar with a floating band in a lagoon, surprise thunderstorms and mai tais served in fake coconuts.

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Argonaut Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy Booking.com
Hotels, Spa hotels

Argonaut Hotel

icon-location-pin Fisherman's Wharf

This nautical-themed hotel has been a mainstay of San Francisco’s best hotel list for years. Constructed of red brick and Douglas Fir back in 1907, this Fisherman’s Wharf behemoth pays homage to San Francisco’s Barbary Coast days with ship paraphernalia and sea mythology galore. Despite the anchor prints and porthole-shaped mirrors, though, the Argonaut manages to stay classy with dark fabrics and careful attention to detail, like a yoga mat in every room, that keep guests coming back year after year. With fantastic views of the San Francisco National Maritime Park, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge this is a great luxury hotel for the whole family, including the pets.

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Hotel Vitale
Photograph: Courtesy Joie de Vivre Hotels
Hotels, Spa hotels

Hotel Vitale

icon-location-pin SoMa

What’s your dream Bay-cation without a gorgeous waterfront view? Jawdropping views of the San Francisco Bay await at the decadent Hotel Vitale, where you can post on the wood-paneled rooftop or penthouse-level spa to catch a gorgeous sunet. The rooms' blue-gray color palette, plus lavender-scented and leaf-patterned hallways will have you at ease all the way to dinner at in-house Americano Restaurant—or take advantage of the hotel's easy access to the Embarcadero to grab a bite at the Ferry Building and enjoy on dock of the bay.

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Hotel Zetta
Photograph: Courtesy Booking.com
Hotels

Hotel Zetta

icon-location-pin Yerba Buena

When in Silicon Valley, do as the techies do. Hotel Zetta, smack in the heart of SoMa, features a massive Plinko board as well as several game rooms to get your play on. But Zetta has plenty of style too, with a salvage-and-rescue aesthetic that showcases artwork and design features made from recycled materials. Stuff yourself silly at adjacent Cavalier restaurant, then pass out in one of the spacious, sleek rooms.

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Banquet room
Photograph: Flickr/Wally Gobetz
Hotels

Palace Hotel

icon-location-pin Yerba Buena

In the early 20th century, the Palace Hotel was the place for wealthy and powerful visitors to see and be seen. American Presidents frequented the Palace and one, Warren G. Harding, never left - he died of a heart attack in his upstairs room in 1923. Today, though it’s no longer on the cutting-edge, the Palace’s tasteful but simple guest rooms make a nice counterpoint to its lavish lobby and dining room. With 20 Austrian crystal chandeliers (each weighing 750 pounds), 16 Ionic columns of Italian marble and a domed glass ceiling, the 8000-square-foot Garden Court remains one of the most magnificent dining rooms in the state. Under a second domed glass ceiling, beneath silhouettes of the city skyline, is one of San Francisco’s only indoor pools. And that mural behind the bar at the Pied Piper? An original Maxfield Parrish.

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Hotel Drisco front entrance
Photograph: Flickr/rocor
Hotels, Boutique hotels

Hotel Drisco

icon-location-pin Pacific Heights

This posh Pacific Heights boutique hotel is decorated throughout with modern stately home glamor and is eminently inviting. Situated at the top of a hill, Hotel Drisco's imposing Edwardian structure offers uninterrupted city views, plus luxury amenities like nightly wine receptions and weekday chauffeur service. In fact, the complimentary evening wine reception is not to be missed. There are local California wines, artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, fresh fruit and hot hors d’oeuvres, including delicious meatballs that could definitely spoil dinner, but are completely worth the punt.

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Hotel room with a bed
Photograph: Yelp/ Taj Campton Place
Hotels

Taj Campton Place

icon-location-pin Union Square

The Michelin-starred restaurant is the biggest draw at this recently renovated luxury hotel in Union Square, just steps away from some of the best shopping and eating in San Francisco. Guests will be pleased to know that room service comes directly from aforementioned Michelin-starred eatery, so you can enjoy their culinary delights from the comfort of silky-soft Frette linens in bed. There are 110 rooms in all, but the least expensive rooms at the hotel are very small. If you can afford to upgrade, you won't regret it.

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Inn Above Tide
Grey Crawford
Hotels

Inn Above Tide

icon-location-pin Sausalito

Across the Golden Gate Bridge in a magical land called Sausalito, the Inn Above Tide is waiting to take in exhausted San Francisco visitors with open arms. Private balconies adorn each and every room. Take in the sunset, complete with frolicking sea lions and soaring gulls, each evening with a selection of complimentary wine and cheese. Make the experience even more special by upgrading to a suite complete with fireplace, cushy sofas and standing tubs behind floor-to-ceiling windows. Named one of the top hotels in Northern California by Conde Nast Traveler in 2016, the Inn Above Tide is a true one-of-a-kind luxury hotel.

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