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Set on steep rolling hills overlooking its namesake bay, San Francisco charms visitors with vintage architecture, lively Fisherman’s Wharf and the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Those visiting will find an abundance of attractions, including diverse historical sites, a world-class dining scene and nightlife that ranges from antique bars and sophisticated cocktail lounges to rocking live music basements and cavernous EDM clubs. Another plus? San Francisco makes a great base for exploring nearby Sonoma and Napa Valley wine regions, stately redwood forests and the highlight of the Sierra Nevada mountain range: Yosemite National Park. Looking for an authentic taste of local character, ambiance and personal service? Read on for our selection of SF's best stays.
Best Overall: Hotel Drisco
A stately 1903 property built in graceful Edwardian style, Hotel Drisco couples sophisticated elegance with gracious personalized service. Perched atop a hill in the prestigious Pacific Height neighborhood, the hotel's spacious and luxurious apartments come in a soothing grey palette with mid-century modern furnishings and sumptuously marbled bathrooms with walk-in showers and heated floors. Rooms offer charming glimpses into the local neighborhood, with luxe suites providing views of San Francisco's sweeping downtown vistas and bay. Guest comfort is ensured with commendable and discrete services which include morning paper delivery, gourmet continental breakfast, complete concierge assistance during your stay and 24-hour room service delivering freshly-prepared dishes, delectable desserts and a diverse selection of libations. Exclusive chauffer service is available whether you're looking to be whisked off to local or international airports, the famous Union Square or business engagements in the Financial District.
Best Budget: Warwick San Francisco
With downtown San Francisco being among the most expensive real estate in the States, budget accommodation can be hard to find. However, with basic rooms ringing in under $200 a night, the Warwick provides many of the comforts and amenities of a large hotel chain without sacrificing the intimacy and personal service expected of boutique lodging. Blue and white Victorian décor is supplemented with modern fixtures in large comfortable rooms where amenities include soft bathrobes and aromatic spa toiletries. A front desk concierge is available to assist guests in planning activities and reservations at venues in nearby Union Square and further afield. The on-site Aveline restaurant features plush grey furnishings with views into the clean open-plan kitchen, and the rich leather upholstery and dark wood bar create a sophisticated European ambiance where guests can enjoy classic cocktails with a modern twist.
Best Location: Orchard Garden Hotel
Situated in the heart of downtown San Francisco's Chinatown, mere steps from the famous Union Square and Financial District, the Orchard Garden Hotel is as tranquil as accommodations come. The hotel is a LEED-certified eco-friendly property, and sustainability efforts are apparent throughout. The soft colors and natural wood furnishings of the comfortable rooms create a homey feel, with large glass doors opening onto scenic furnished balconies. The Roots restaurant serves guests delicious continental, American and vegetarian breakfasts created with organic, local and sustainable ingredients. The rooftop patio echoes a lush garden oasis with added city views and is the perfect place to relax after a long day’s exploration. Once rested, guests can venture into the vibrant, energetic nightlife surrounding the ideally situated property.
Best for Families: Hotel Zephyr
Although a large number of rooms should exclude the Zephyr from the boutique category, this hotel merits inclusion for the sheer wealth of family-friendly amenities on offer. Colorful rooms come with cute porthole windows in secluded reading nooks with views onto the Bay. Dartboards and backgammon are on hand to keep the family entertained, and spacious balconies provide an excellent place to relax with a morning coffee from the in-room Keurig machines. High-tech smart TVs, multimedia streaming and impressive power banks ensure that the digital requirements of the modern family are catered to, and a pet-friendly policy means all members of the family are welcome. Comfy colorful seats, Popeye murals and table tennis games in the social lounge area make a great place to mingle with other families. Outside, the large courtyard features plush beach-style couches, funky modern art and a generous firepit. The retro Camper food van provides tasty, locally-sourced snacks, craft beers and a selection of wines from local vineyards.
Best for Romance: Inn at the Presidio
Set amidst the natural splendor of Golden Gate Park, at the base of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, the Inn at the Presidio is a secluded boutique hotel that provides couples a laid-back, intimate stay. The lovingly restored Pershing Hall is a former officers’ barracks in classic Georgian Revival-style and houses 22 comfortable and open rooms and suites. Suites feature darling brick fireplaces, modern bathrooms and soft furnishings in muted greys. Guests can choose to wander through the green gardens and stately trees of the national park, cruise the Bay or take excursions into downtown San Francisco or the nearby Napa Valley wine region. In the evenings, romantic dinners and local wines are to be enjoyed next to the large outdoor fireplace.
Best Luxury: The Battery
The Battery is a luxurious private clubhouse which extends complimentary membership to guests staying in one of 14 sumptuously appointed rooms. Guest rooms feature hardwood floors throughout, design furnishings by Ken Fulk and a full set of modern amenities including a stocked minibar, impressive sound system, Nespresso coffee machine and large-screen TV. Spacious bathrooms center around natural stone tiles, a large bathtub and a walk-in shower with Malin+Goetz bath products. Guests can unwind in saunas and hot tubs in the soothing spa, work out in the stylish gym and relax on the plush couches of the library or in the meticulously landscaped garden. Within the club, retro exposed-brick blends seamlessly with opulent modern décor; just look to the intimate dining rooms and suave cocktail bar which ooze sophistication and elegance.
Best for Singles: Hotel Phoenix
With an impressive celebrity guest list including Johnny Rotten, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and MC Hammer, The Phoenix's rock ‘n roll history no doubt helps maintain its ongoing popularity. Steeped with 50s motor lodge ambiance and located in the heart of the grungy Tenderloin district, the spot's reputation for down-and-dirty chic is maintained by cheerful rooms full of delightfully dated, kitschy furnishings. Brightly colored doors open onto the large, palm-lined social courtyard where a quirky pool hosts popular Sunday pool parties. When night falls, guests can head to the on-site Irish bar where traditional pub atmosphere is accompanied by classic hearty stews, bangers and mash and pints of Guinness. The party continues in the cozy pubs and thumping live music venues found within easy walking distance of the hotel. Following a long night out, a tasty complimentary breakfast helps chase away any signs of a morning hangover.
Best View: Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square
Guests are spoiled for scenic choice when lodging at the historic Fairmont Heritage Place. Those choosing city-side accommodation are treated to a dynamic vista of the bustling downtown while bayside rooms offer sweeping views of the infamous Alcatraz fortress and Golden Gate Bridge. Apartment-style suites come with one to three bedrooms, living rooms with an atmospheric fireplace and an outdoor terrace on which to relax and gaze out over the sunny California landscape. Twenty-four-hour butler service, pre-arrival itinerary planning and a late afternoon cheese and wine reception are much-appreciated examples of how the hotel oversees the care and comfort of its guests. The excellent location of Ghirardelli Square also allows visitors to easily access nearby attractions — primarily, the famous Fisherman’s Wharf.
Best Hostel: USA Hostels San Francisco
Consistently rated by Hostelworld as the best hostel in San Francisco, this modern stay marries hostel sociability with the comforts and amenities of an upscale hotel. Clean private rooms are available to those who prefer quiet accommodation while colorful linens, privacy screens and reading lights in spacious four-bed dorms offer a comfortable and relaxed environment seldom encountered in most hostels. Bright and roomy common areas are replete with padded stools, cozy couches and quiet corners. Secure lockers keep valuables safe while guests are escorted on regular walking tours, pub crawls and sightseeing bike excursions by personable and informative hostel staff. The fun continues well into the evenings with staff conducting karaoke evenings, billiards tournaments and a host of other activities.