Stay Like You Mean It: 10 Best Hotels in San Francisco

So what really separates the good hotels from the best hotels?

We'd argue it's the quality and reliability of the service. If you're ready to lavish yourself in luxury, then the high-end hotels of The Palace, The Fairmont, and Sir Francis Drake each have over a century of wise and valued service. You'll pay top dollar at these hotels, but you'll get top-dollar service to match.

Although San Francisco is an expensive place to stay, tucked in between the hills are some delightful boutique hotels, as well.

Whether you're visiting from near or far, the most important choice you'll have during your vacation is where to stay. Since San Francisco is a tight forty-nine square miles criss-crossed with public transportation, almost every San Francisco hotel can claim they are "perfectly situated." Even if a hotel isn't smack-dab next to Union Square, it's probably only a MUNI bus ride or a short walk away.


Occupying the top five floors of a 1908 office building, Hotel Palomar employs luxurious textiles, bold prints, and splashes of saturated color to convey a sense of stylish opulence. It's a Kimpton hotel, so you can expect absolutely top-notch service, too. Rooms and suites feature leopard-print carpeting, multi-feature phone, CD stereo, and TV with on-demand movies and video games. Other thoughtful touches include L'Occitane toiletries and an umbrella. The award-winning Fifth Floor restaurant serves eclectic, French-inspired cuisine and provides room service as well. Additional perks: a 24-hour fitness room, complimentary transportation to the Financial District, and specially designed "Tall Rooms." Meeting space for 30. 198 rooms.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Hotel Zelos is a great compromise between extremely pricey high-end hotels and very small, boutique hotels.

Read more about Hotel Zelos San Francisco →

The Loewes Regency San Francisco occupies the top 11 floors of 345 California Center, the city's third tallest building â€" every guest room has a spectacular view. Room amenities include high-speed Internet access, Frette Egyptian cotton sheets, voice mail and fax, and a pair of binoculars to get the very best views possible. Within walking distance to Union Square, Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf, the hotel is also only a half block from the cable car. The popular Silks restaurant serves three gourmet meals a day; the Mandarin Lounge is available for light meals as well as afternoon tea. Meeting space to accommodate 120. 154 rooms and suites.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: The Loewes Regency San Francisco's location on the Embarcadero offers some of the best views of any hotel in the city.

Read more about Loews Regency San Francisco →

Inn At The Presidio Historic Hotels Of America
Photo courtesy of Inn At The Presidio

If you hear "hotel in a national recreation area" and think of bug spray instead of romance, then you need to check out the Inn at the Presidio. The Inn at the Presidio was constructed in 1903 as a home for unmarried officers living within the Presidio military district. The rooms in this Georgian-Rival building balance contemporary comfort with a healthy respect for the Presidio's rich past. Although it will be hard to tear yourself away from the Inn's beautifully restored front porches with gorgeous views of the Bay, take advantage of your amazing location. The Presidio features 24 miles of hiking trails, 25 miles of biking trails, the 18-hole Presidio Golf Course, cultural and recreation tenants such as the Walt Disney Family Museum and a trampoline park. Complimentary continental breakfast and complimentary evening wine and cheese reception included.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Inn at the Presidio offers a uniquely San Francisco experience that can't be duplicated anywhere else.

Read more about Inn At The Presidio Historic Hotels Of America →

Hotel Nikko San Francisco
Photo courtesy of Hotel Nikko

This small, charming hotel offers many of the same services found at larger hotels. Service is personable and friendly, and rooms are designed to pamper, with extra-large beds, fuzzy slippers, warm bathrobes, and lovely bathrooms. Unique complimentaries such as Subarashee Yume pillow-top beds make this hotel really stand out. The Imperial Club, which are luxury suites on the top floors, provide commanding views of the city. Guests enjoy an excellent in-house restaurant, and the grand hotel rests in the heart of San Francisco. Located 14 miles from San Francisco International Airport. Meeting area accommodates up to 35 people. 110 rooms.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Hotel Nikko is a satisfying blend of reliability and cutting edge, modern delights.

Read more about Hotel Nikko San Francisco →

Fort Point

If it's Nature that turns you on, then Cavallo Point is the place for you. This unique resort sits on a dramatic oceanfront setting on forty-five natural acres in Golden Gate National Park, just minutes from the town of Sausalito. Very residential in feeling, comfortable, and timeless, the setting provides a sense of community, while offering an historic perspective as well as contemporary design. Guests enjoy the relaxed, casual campus-like setting with easy access to the main public areas, dining, and meeting rooms. Murray Circle features California cuisine with a French accent and an extensive and eclectic wine cellar. Private dining available. The bar, Farley, offers light fare and entertainment.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Although Cavallo Lodge is in Sausalito, it's well worth the trip.

Read more about Cavallo Point →


The family-owned hotel is located two blocks from Union Square. It's conveniently located near the Moscone Center, theaters, shops and China Town. Rooms are nicely appointed and include refrigerator, honor bar, and complimentary newspaper. Guests can enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast. The famous White Horse Restaurant and Pub is the perfect spot to enjoy a pint or a meal after a long day of walking up and down San Francisco's famous hills. Facilities include the White Horse Restaurant and Pub. The hotel is about 15 miles from San Francisco International Airport. 114 rooms are all furnished in cozy Victorian decor.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: The staff at Hotel Beresford are incredibly informed about and connected to the Bay Area community.

Read more about Hotel Beresford →

This grand hotel is found on famed Nob Hill. Known for being one of the best in the world, it lives up to expectation. The amenities, though expected at a hotel of its caliber, are a welcome touch. Guests enjoy an indoor swimming pool, a sauna and whirlpool, and fitness club. The hotel also offers a notable restaurant and lounge. Concierge and room service available. The lovely rooms feature luxurious feather beds and downy comforters. A mini Golden Gate Bridge model offers sweets for the taking. Parallel 37, the hotels' signature restaurant, is named after the geographic latitude that runs through the Bay Area. Meeting areas to accommodate up to 1000. 336 rooms.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: The Ritz-Carlton is high-priced but offers exceptional service and quality.

Read more about The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco →

With a recently completed renovation, the inside of this landmark Nob Hill hotel has been restored to the grandeur intended by San Simeon architect Julia Morgan. Boasting large rooms that are unknown in newer hotels, this ultra-deluxe palace offers extra long mattresses, plush terry robes and baths that match the room-size. The Venetian Room, made famous by Tony Bennett, has also had a face-lift but still occupies the heart of many locals and visitors. Despite the historical grandeur and beauty, what really makes this a grand hotel is the unobtrusive efficiency and friendliness of the staff. 591 guest rooms and 55,000 square feet of spectacular function space.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Staying at the Fairmont is not only a guaranteed treat in luxury but a step back into time to visit "old" San Francisco.

Read more about Fairmont San Francisco →

If you want a taste of old San Francisco - but with all the modern amenities - book a room at Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The grand style the hotel lobby and public areas continues into the guestrooms and suites, which feature a combination of regal and retro with a dash of contemporary San Francisco style. Rooms are also outfitted with the latest technologies. The 600 sq. ft Sir Francis Suites are located on higher floors with breathtaking views of downtown San Francisco, Nob Hill, and Union Square. Claiming to "anchor one side of the famous urban crossroads" of Union Square, you can't beat the location of this prestigious hotel.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: It only takes a walk through the ornate front room of the Sir Francis Drake to make visitors realize they've entered a very special place.

Read more about Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel →

The history of the Palace Hotel goes all the way back to the 1906 earthquake. The lower lobby holds some of the surviving remnants of that quake, so those on a tight business or convention schedule can visit a museum without even making a trek outside their own hotel. This belle of a hotel is found in the financial district and across from the New Montgomery BART station. The hotel allows for ease of access to area attractions such as Union Square. It offers a wonderfully comfortable stay in tastefully decorated rooms. Guests will enjoy the many amenities that include concierge service, room service, three restaurants, two lounges, a business center, pool, and health club. Expansive meeting areas accommodate up to 6,000 people. 551 rooms.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Even if you don't stay at the Palace, grabbing a martini at their signature bar and restaurant, the Pied Piper, is a San Francisco treat.

Read more about Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Francisco →


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom