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A city of historic Victorian houses, glittering skyscrapers, and gentrified dockyards, San Francisco is a dynamic blend of old and new set atop a range of hills overlooking an expansive bay. Its long and varied history, a rich cultural and ethnic diversity, and a reputation for being a hub of gourmet food, modern art, and progressive liberalism has made it one of the most desirable and expensive cities in the US. Popular tourist locations include the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf, the Union Square main shopping district, the famed Golden Gate Bridge, and the infamous Alcatraz Prison. San Francisco also makes a convenient base for exploring the northern Californian region, with redwood forests, Napa Valley wineries, and the Sierra Nevada mountains all easily accessible from the city. Below, our favorite hotels to call home in SF.
Best Overall: The St. Regis San Francisco
Situated centrally in downtown SF, the St. Regis is surrounded by parks, shopping malls, art galleries, and cultural attractions including the Museum of Modern Art and the Yerba Buena Theater. Guestrooms are spacious and airy with modern décor and lots of natural light that floods in through capacious windows. Rooms come with a padded window couch, a bathroom with separate shower and bathtub, a plasma TV with satellite channels, and a stereo. Larger suites offer separate living and dining areas and writing desks.
An indoor infinity pool is surrounded by large recessed windows, with cushioned window nooks for enjoying views of the city skyline. The Remede Spa contains steam rooms, cedar-wood saunas, and a whirlpool hot tub, and offers a range of treatments that include hot oil and hot stone massages, Thai bamboo body scrubs, and signature facial treatments. Contemporary Californian cuisine created with seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients is served at The Grill restaurant or brought to guests for in-room dining, and the lobby lounge is a sophisticated spot for relaxing with a post-dinner cocktail.
Best View: Fairmont San Francisco
Housed in a venerable historic building with an enviable hilltop location, the Fairmont San Francisco offers superb views of San Francisco Bay, the Transamerica Pyramid, and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Although many rooms offer excellent outlooks, the best place to take in the sweeping panoramic vistas is from the stunning rooftop garden, filled with impeccably-manicured shrubbery, retro cast-iron lampposts, and an ornamental pond with a bubbling fountain.
As one of the oldest hotels in the city, the Fairmont features an elegant neo-classical exterior and an opulent, marble-filled interior; guestrooms, on the other hand, offer modern amenities amid luxurious traditional decor. A fitness center contains a range of modern exercise equipment and holds daily classes in yoga, Pilates, and other activities, as well as offering acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, and personal training services. Guests can dine on fresh Californian seafood at the Laurel Court Restaurant and on Polynesian-fusion at the kitschy, tropical-themed Tonga Room. With a major cable car hub located right next to the hotel, guests can easily access Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and other popular destinations.
Best Boutique: The Battery
Operating as an exclusive private clubhouse, The Battery extends complimentary membership to visitors staying in one of 14 luxuriously appointed rooms. The industrial-chic vibe of exposed brick walls and polished steel pillars is complemented by an ever-changing array of contemporary art pieces adorning the walls. Guestrooms, designed by the celebrated Ken Fulk, feature hardwood floors, vintage furnishings, and amenities including Nespresso coffee machines, large-screen TVs, and sound systems. Elegant bathrooms are done up with natural stone tiles, large bathtubs, and walk-in showers.
Guests can relax in the technology-free club lounge, on the stuffed leather couches of the library or in the tranquil courtyard garden. Downstairs, the wellness center features a steam room, sauna, hot tub, and koi pond. The Living Room restaurant provides gourmet farm-to-table cuisine — paired with a varied wine selection from the extensive cellar — in a rustic room of wood floorboards, pillars, and exposed ceiling beams. The relaxed Prohibition-era Musto Bar delights with hidden doorways and quirky antique fixtures, while the House Bar provides a livelier, more social drinking experience.
Best for Families: Hotel Zephyr
Overlooking the docks of Fisherman’s Wharf and within convenient walking distance of Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and Aquarium on the Bay, Hotel Zephyr is a fun nautical-themed hotel filled with family-friendly facilities. Colorful modern rooms contain amenities such as flat-screen TVs and Keurig coffee machines, and excellent views of the city and bay can be enjoyed through the large windows or from the furnished balconies in some rooms. Multimedia streaming, complimentary Wi-Fi, and board games keep children entertained, and a pet-friendly policy means four-legged family members can be accommodated.
Downstairs, a lounge area filled with table and board games is a great place to mingle with other families. The large courtyard garden, filled with comfy beach-style couches, a funky porthole lounge, a raised firepit, and quirky interactive art installations is a great place for parents to relax while kids explore and socialize. Although there is no on-site restaurant, the renovated Camper food van serves healthy and tasty light snacks, as well as craft beers and Californian wines.
Best for Romance: Inn at the Presidio
Set amidst the soaring redwood trees of Golden Gate Park, the Inn at the Presidio is a historic boutique hotel that provides a private and intimate setting away from the hustle and bustle of downtown San Francisco. A former officers’ barracks built in a classic Georgian Revival-style, the faithfully-restored building houses comfortable rooms and suites, with features including brick gas fireplaces, private bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs, and a mix of antique furnishings and modern amenities.
A wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars are all within easy walking distance of the inn, and an evening cheese and wine reception is followed with social gatherings around the large firepit on the furnished outdoor patio. Guests exploring the surrounding parkland can stroll along secluded forest trails past outdoor art exhibitions to find picturesque picnic locations and attractions such as the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, Chrissy Fields Beach, and the Golden Gate Overlook.
Best for Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
Housed in a stately historic building in the fashionable Nob Hill district, the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco is the picture of refined luxury, from the Grecian columns and carved stone reliefs of the façade to the sumptuous lobby lined with polished marble and bedecked with crystal chandeliers. Guestrooms are equally lavish, with plush furnishings in an understated modern style and marble bathrooms with rainfall showers, a separate bathtub, dual vanities, and indulgent Asprey bath products.
The critically-acclaimed Parallel 37 restaurant offers a menu of contemporary American cuisine and local wines in a sophisticated, modern venue. The relaxed Lounge cocktail bar provides hand-crafted cocktails, wood-burning fireplaces, and spectacular city views through enormous floor-to-ceiling windows. An on-site spa, operated under the famed LÓccitane name, offers signature body massages treatments and rejuvenating facial therapies inspired by the scents and traditions of French Provence. Guests will find convenient access to Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, and other popular city destinations via the nearby cable car hub.
Best for Nature: Cavello Point Lodge
On the shores of Horseshoe Bay and at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Cavello Point Lodge feels worlds away from the crowded city streets located just across the channel waters. Here, guests can choose between historic lodgings or stylish contemporary rooms — both styles featuring gas fireplaces, quality organic bed linens and towels, and south-facing views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Rooms include a complimentary wine hour and a round-trip shuttle service to San Francisco, with additional services such as in-room bartending, champagne and chocolate selections, and a rose-petal turndown service providing luxurious extras.
The on-site spa — one of the highest ranked in the US — offers salt-stone and aromatherapy massages, lavender salt scrubs, and other beauty and wellness treatments. The Murray Circle Restaurant provides fresh and seasonal gourmet fare with a strong French influence in a rustic-chic room, with the views from the outside porch seating offering a scenic dining backdrop.
Best for Business: Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto
With three major airports in a half-hour radius, Silicon Valley's Four Seasons provides business travelers a stylish, convenient base for work trips. Guestrooms come with necessary basics such as office desks and chairs, in-room Wi-Fi, and multiple phone lines, while coffee machines and a refrigerated bar offer opportunities for refreshment. Meeting spaces range from intimate boardrooms to large ballrooms with capacity for up to 280 attendees.
During downtime, guests can relax on the sun lounges and private cabanas surrounding the rooftop pool, work out in the well-equipped fitness center, and relax in the steam room or enjoy a customized massage in the spa. The Quattro restaurants offers sophisticated Italian and Mediterranean dining on an elegant outdoor terrace, while the adjoining lounge bar is a comfortable place to conduct relaxed business over signature cocktails and light snacks.
Best B&B: East Brother Light Station
Clinging to a small rocky island between the San Francisco and San Pablo bays, the East Brother Light Station offers a secluded, tranquil escape where guests are surrounded by nothing but open water and the ocean breeze. Built in 1873 to guide ships through the treacherous channels, the hotel has a long and proud history, and the classic wooden architecture lends a timeless and romantic air. Guests are pampered with homey comforts throughout their stay, from the champagne and hors d’oeuvres provided on arrival to gourmet multi-course dinners paired with selections of fine regional wines.
Cozy guest rooms feature antique furnishings like wrought-iron bed frames, floral quilts, and colorful rugs. With only five rooms available and an adults-only policy, the hotel has a quiet, relaxed vibe, where guests can watch seals playing in the harbor, cast a line into the surrounding waters, or sit back and enjoy some quality reading time.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular hotels near San Francisco. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different hotels and read over 100 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.