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 in downtown San Francisco to be near the best attractions, or the North Beach neighborhood to be near touristy Fisherman's Wharf. Either way, make sure you check off our list of 49 things to do in San Francisco.
Cheap hotels in San Francisco
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
This antique-studded, European-style pension has few modern touches (there are no televisions and no elevator) but buckets of charm. San Remo’s 64 spotless rooms are equipped with vintage framed beds, Oriental rugs and Victorian-inspired furniture. You’ll have to share a bath but some rooms do have in-room sinks. Originally built to house dockworkers following San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake, not every room is created equal - select an exterior room for fresh air or splurge on the Penthouse, a stand-alone rooftop bungalow with an ensuite bath and spectacular North Beach views. Book Online
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).
Mid-range hotels in San Francisco
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.
This quaint bed and breakfast is a beautifully maintained homage to San Francisco’s Victorian roots. White wicker furniture and French-provincial prints bring the charm but it’s the hotel’s thoughtful accents - claw-foot tubs (in some rooms), the 100-year old birdcage elevator, the tabby-cat Pip snoozing on the lobby’s vintage sofa - that put this 25-room Edwardian at the top of the mid-range hotel list. Breakfast and afternoon tea and cookies are included and well-behaved pets are welcome.
If you are looking for a quiet evening retreat during your San Francisco stay, the Inn at the Presidio is for you. Once a home for bachelor officers stationed at the Presidio Army Post at the turn of the 20th century, the 22-room, red-brick Pershing Hall was converted into a B&B in 2010. Located in the heart of the Presidio behind the Main Post, the hotel’s extravagantly-sized rooms are impeccably decorated in distressed leather and white-on-white damask. Most rooms have working fireplaces and the veranda is outfitted with oh-so-charming rocking chairs. Explore the Golden Gate National Recreation Area from your doorstep or hop on one of the park’s free shuttles which will get you downtown in about 30-minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Luxury hotels in San Francisco
From its prominent location at the crest of Nob Hill to its two-story tall yellow-marble Corinthian columns, no hotel does grandeur like the Fairmont. Built in the Gilded Age of 1908, the lobby, with its polished floors, crystal chandeliers and ornate staircases, is the very definition of opulence. The Fairmont’s guest rooms - both in the hotel’s original building and in the 1960s tower addition - were completely renovated in 2014 and now feature rich silver and earth-toned textiles, dark wood furniture and sumptuous marble baths. The 1920s-designed Presidential Suite is the stuff of San Francisco legend, covering the entire 8th floor with a secret exit through a movable bookcase to a rooftop helipad, a feature which was replaced in 2010 with four honeybee hives and an herb garden. In the hall that once housed the Fairmont’s indoor pool you’ll find the tiki-themed Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar where musicians play to diners from a floating bandstand and thunderstorms, complete with falling rain, erupt hourly.
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.
Magnificent views of the San Francisco Bay dominate this chic boutique hotel on the water’s edge on The Embarcadero. With an aesthetic that is part mid-century modern, part urban cool, the blues and greys of Hotel Vitale’s luxurious rooms bring indoors the fog-drenched city outside. Rooms facing an interior courtyard are the least expensive but a night in a bay-view room is money well-spent. For a real treat book a “circular suite” where walls of windows offer you a full panorama. On the roof, the Spa Vitale offers facials, massages and aromatherapy soaking tubs. Downstairs, join the Financial District’s 20-somethings for a post-work cocktail at the Americano Restaurant and Bar.
SoMa’s Hotel Zetta juxtaposes its historic neo-classical exterior with the unexpected shapes and colors of an ultra-modern interior. Completely gutted in 2013, the 116-room hotel features explosive artwork and a variety of sculptural elements made from repurposed materials like chandeliers made of discarded eye glasses in the hotel’s entryway. Large functional rooms cater to the Silicon Valley crowd with high-quality electronics and plush beds with 500-thread-count sheets. Burn off some steam at the pool table, giant Plinko board or full-service bar, Salvage and Rescue, in the playful-yet-stylish lobby.
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.
The Hotel Drisco is a sophisticated but welcoming boutique hotel situated in the posh Pacific Heights neighborhood. Housed in a historic Edwardian built in 1903, the hotel - all leather, neutral colors and soft textiles - prides itself on being a home-away-from-home for its guests, offering complimentary gourmet continental breakfast, nightly wine receptions featuring artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, chauffeur services on weekday mornings and bath products by Bvlgari. In their impeccably made-up rooms you’ll find down comforters and pillows, merino wool throws, Egyptian cotton triple sheeting and unmatched views of the entire city.
A classically styled hotel in the heart of downtown San Francisco, it’s the service at the Taj Campton Place puts this spot above many of its competitors . Elegant and correct in their restrained design, all 110 rooms are done in soothing shades of neutral ecru, with walls of pear wood and high-end furnishings, including leather-top writing desks. Beds are dressed in silky-soft Frette linens, and the limestone bathrooms are stocked with high-end products and chenille robes. The hotel’s room service comes directly from the kitchens of the attached Campton Place restaurant, the recipient of two Michelin stars.
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.