It’s not difficult to drop a pretty penny in San Francisco these days. The city locals don’t take too kindly to skimping on cheap coffee and they certainly don’t mind shelling out a little more for a truly tasty cocktail in a swanky bar. San Francisco values high-end quality and good taste above all else, and that sentiment extends to its tourism industry, too. Visitors to the San Francisco who are treating themselves to a no-holds-barred, utterly luxurious vacation will find resplendent lodging in ten of the city’s fanciest and most iconic luxury hotels, all specializing in providing the best stay money can offer. Here’s where you can book a room in San Francisco to travel like presidents and movie stars—if you’ve got the financial flexibility.
SF's best luxury hotels
Although The Battery primarily operates as a hyper-exclusive bar and club for savvy (and wealthy) members only, it also boasts an ultra-chic 14-suite luxury boutique hotel open to the public.Attracting all sorts of city elite, tech CEOs, and the odd artist or two, the Battery is a high-brow melting pot of thinkers and doers. A reservation made at the hotel gives guests a temporary resident membership, meaning they're free to use all the facilities at the Battery, including gym classes, exclusive concerts, and access to the private club, bar, and restaurant. Plus, it's known to throw a mean party — its Super Bowl soirée attracted the likes of NFL greats, models, actors, and — yep — even Justin Bieber.
The pinnacle of SoMa's museum district and a worthy rival to the nearby Four Seasons, this 40-storey hotel and condominium tower seemed to take forever to open, but now that it's here it has redefined luxury (and how much people are willing to pay for it). Guest rooms come with butler service, limestone baths, high-end finishings and high-tech fixtures; rooms on the sixth floor and above have the best city views. A combination of new and old construction, the property includes sprawling spa facilities with a heated indoor lap pool, the new Museum of the African Diaspora and two restaurants patronized by the city's elite, Aim and Vitrine. Nearby sit popular highbrow tourist points of interest, including the SFMOMA, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Metreon.
Built high atop Ghirardelli Square, this urban SF hotel features luxurious apartments with exposed brick walls, sweeping terraces, bay views, and fire pits (and free WiFi!). A good option for those planning a longer stay, rooms at this Marina-area Fairmont location include fireplaces, high-end entertainment systems, washer-dryer units, and gourmet full kitchens (with the option to send someone on staff to do your grocery shopping for you). On-the-move visitors may also take advantage of the car service if their destination is within a 2-mile radius, and the in-house continental breakfast for those short on time.
This towering historic landmark on Nob Hill is known in part for featuring Top of the Mark, a top-floor restaurant with beautiful views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge (and 100 martinis on the menu), but besides that, the hotel is in itself a landmark of luxury. With rich woods and elegant textiles, hotel rooms are reminiscent of classic San Francisco, but its amenities are all modern; visitors can take advantage of a 24-hour fitness center, valet parking, babysitting services, business center, and proximity to Union Square, Nob Hill, the Financial District, and the cable cars, which stop just outside the hotel.
The sleek 36-story Four Seasons is situated nicely on the south side of Market Street, convenient for both Union Square and SoMa. Its 277 rooms and suites, 142 residential condos, high-end shops and upscale restaurant create the feeling of a city unto itself. The general design and ambience are pretty similar to other Four Seasons around the world: as you might expect, the amply sized rooms (the smallest are 460 square feet) are sumptuously appointed, with no corner-cutting. The list of on-site amenities is lengthy and all-encompassing; perhaps the jewel, however, is the in-house Equinox Sports Club, with high-end spa, indoor lap pool and hot tub.
The Ritz-Carlton has been the de facto choice for dignitaries and heads of state for years. As you might expect, then, the rooms and suites are sumptuously appointed, immaculately cleaned, stocked with luxurious treats and new gadgets like 32-inch LCD flat-panel TVs and iPod docking stations. Amenities include an indoor spa with gym (with complimentary Spa L’OCCITANE toiletries), swimming pool, whirlpool and sauna; Parallel 37, a restaurant offering top-class California cuisine; overnight shoe shines; daily piano performances in the Lobby Lounge; and an armada of valets to meet your every need. Mere mortals can pop in for the Sunday Jazz Brunch, held on a sunken roof terrace.
San Francisco has only a handful of five-star hotels; it's a ranking dependent upon a long list of amenities, facilities and services that few can deliver. And then there's Taj Campton Place, officially a four-star for its lack of a spa and swimming pool, but in every other way a bona fide luxury hotel, with service on par with the city's best. 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. Downstairs the eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant, Campton Place, serves three meals daily, and the same kitchen provides room service to guests.
With a great central location right on the cable car line, this business-friendly hotel is relatively new, but feels as though it's been part of the landscape for years. That's partly because it has been built into a historic structure, with decor inspired by the 1920s and '30s, but it's also due to the exceptional service. The rooms are larger than you might expect and are appointed with comfortable amenities, including upscale bath accessories, plush robes and large work desks. The ground-floor restaurant, Bob's Steaks & Chops, is one of the better steakhouses in town.
This Morgans Hotel Group property is still the hippest hotel in town, and doesn't it know it. Staff range from cooler-than-thou to ultra-friendly (thankfully, there's more of the latter). There's no denying the beauty of the public spaces - from the striking lobby with oversized bronze chair to the gorgeous scarlet Redwood Room and classy Living Room restaurants and bars. The minimalist guest rooms are on the right side of comfortable, with easy-on-the eye grey, tangerine and lavender decor, and each offers Malin + Goetz bathroom amenities. Snag a heavily discounted rate on the website and it'll feel like value for money.
High atop Nob Hill, the Fairmont is the grand dame of San Francisco hotels, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The main building was built in 1908, and the grand lobby reveals traces of the Gilded Age in polished marble floors that reflect the glow of century-old crystal chandeliers, and rows of yellow-marble Corinthian columns soaring two stories high. The 1920s-designed Presidential Suite is the most opulent hotel room in all SF, covering the entire 8th floor; it even has a movable bookcase for secret escapes to the rooftop's former helipad. Service is high-end business class, and guest rooms got a total makeover in 2014. Main-building rooms have high ceilings and crown moldings, and feel grand for their proportions. Tower rooms are boxy with lower ceilings, but have incredible bay and city views, especially from high floors. All are furnished with sumptuous beds and marble baths. At the tiki-themed Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar downstairs, drinks come with little umbrellas, a dance band plays standards, and artificial thunderstorms rain down hourly on the floating bandstand. A classic SF experience.