The 5 Best Hotels in San Francisco


People out walking around sunny San Francisco with the towering downtown in the distance
Posted: 5/10/24 | May 10th, 2024

San Francisco one of my favorite cities in the United States. I’m always looking forward to my next visit. There’s an amazing food scene here (especially Asian food), and it’s close to some stunning national parks where you can go hiking amid towering redwoods.

However, thanks to the booming tech scene, it’s also one of the most expensive cities in the country. As much as I love visiting, it’s easy to break the bank here. Especially on accommodation. There’s a plethora of hotels in the city, but not all of them are worth staying at (something I’ve learned the hard way).

Since I’ve been visiting SF on and off for over a decade, I’ve stayed in many different hotels over the years. Here’s my list of the best hotels in San Francisco to help you plan your trip:

1. Argonaut Hotel

A bright and colorful hotel room at the Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco, USA
In a nod to the building’s former life as a 20th-century warehouse, everything in this award-winning four-star boutique hotel is nautically themed. Located at Fisherman’s Wharf, the spacious rooms are all blue and white, featuring exposed brick walls and timber beams, and wall décor like large compasses or mirrors shaped like ship windows. Some have excellent views over the bay too. Each room has a minifridge and minibar stocked with local goodies, a 50” HDTV, and a coffee maker with complimentary locally roasted coffee. The bathrooms are a bit small and dated, but the water pressure in the showers is good (a big plus in my book).

There’s also a 24-hour fitness center, in-room spa services, and a seafood restaurant in which you get a $15 USD daily credit with your room. The restaurant also serves breakfast in the mornings, and though it’s a bit expensive (like everything in this part of town), it’s pretty tasty, with lots of omelet options, as well as French toast and pancakes. I especially love how eco-friendly the hotel is. They avoid single-use plastics in the rooms, use water-saving systems, and even compost at the hotel’s restaurant. You can also take out one of the complimentary bicycles for pedal-powered explorations. And if you’re traveling with your pup, the hotel is dog friendly too.

Book here!
 

2. Fairmont San Francisco

A spacious and airy room at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, USA
Located in posh Nob Hill, this five-star hotel is an iconic symbol of elegance and luxury. With its distinctive architecture, this historic hotel has welcomed guests from around the world for over a century. I love the timeless grandeur it exudes, with its opulent décor featuring marble floors, sparkling chandeliers, and ornate furnishings.

The rooms are spacious, with high ceilings and amenities including a flatscreen TV, a desk with built-in USB ports, a tea/coffee maker, and a safe. The bathrooms are large too and feature marble bathtubs, plush bathrobes and slippers, and complimentary toiletries. The entire place feels like a resort, with a spa, gym, and several restaurants (one of which serves an excellent breakfast). Don’t miss the kitschy Tonga Room, the legendary tiki bar in the basement — there’s even a lagoon with a floating stage that bands play on. You have to see it to believe it!

Book here!
 

3. Petite Auberge

A cozy B&B room at the charming Petite Auberge hotel in San Francisco, USA
I love this French-style, three-star bed-and-breakfast situated on the edge of Nob Hill and Union Square. The décor makes you feel like you’re staying in an old farmhouse, with uniquely patterned walls, hardwood floors, antique wooden furniture, and a fireplace in some rooms. There’s a complimentary continental breakfast in the mornings (with pastries, cereals, yogurt, eggs, juice, and coffee) and happy hour with wine and snacks in the evenings too.

All rooms are spacious and match the hotel’s style, with floral wallpaper, bookshelves, wooden desks and armoires, and pillowy beds. In-room amenities include a flatscreen TV, bathrobes, a hair dryer, and luxury bath products. The bathrooms are a bit small though, and the shower pressure kind of weak, but those are minor points, because overall this place is super cozy and unique.

Book here!
 

4. Inn San Francisco

An elegant and large hotel room at the Inn San Francisco in San Francisco, USA
This cute three-star bed-and-breakfast is the best place to stay in the Mission district (a great area for both nightlife and food). It’s situated in a classic Victorian mansion from the 1870s, and I love the atmosphere here. The place is bursting with character, with grand double parlors adorned with woodwork, marble fireplaces, stained-glass windows, and old photographs of the area on the walls. It’s really gorgeous.

All of the rooms are uniquely decorated with antique furniture and décor yet feature modern conveniences like an HDTV, a minifridge, and comfy beds. All the bathrooms are different (some have claw-foot tubs), but all are beautifully tiled and offer complimentary toiletries. There’s a tasty breakfast buffet, which is included and offers a huge spread of options, like fresh fruit, pastries, quiche, cold cuts, and eggs. After a long day, you’re treated to a glass of sherry, which you can enjoy on the rooftop sundeck or in the hot tub (open 24/7) in the tranquil English garden out back. If you’re looking for a unique place to stay that truly captures the historic essence of the city, this is it.

Book here!
 

5. Hotel Emblem

A cool hotel room with lots of art at Hotel Emblem in San Francisco, USA
As a fan of the Beat Generation (On the Road is one of my favorite travel books), I think this beatnik-themed four-star hotel is super neat. It really leans into its literary theme, with a book nook in the lobby, giant quotes printed on the walls, and a writing desk with inspiration board above in every room. I especially love the hotel’s moody speakeasy bar, which hosts poetry slams and serves up excellent craft cocktails. Upon check-in, you’ll get a free glass of sangria too.

The eclectic rooms all feature velvet chairs, pillowtop mattresses, a smart TV, a Nespresso coffee machine, safe, and bedside USB outlets. There are nice complimentary bath products and plush bathrobes in the large bathrooms too. I also appreciate the healthy breakfast options (like breakfast bowls, smoothies, juices, and granola with yogurt and fresh fruit) at the hotel’s adjoined café. The hotel is conveniently located on the border of the Union Square and Nob Hill neighborhoods, less than a block from a cable car stop and just a short walk to a BART station, making it super easy to get around town from here.

Book here!

***

San Francisco is one of the cultural epicenters of the United States. Whenever I’m road-tripping around California, I always make sure to stop here. It’s just so fun and beautiful. I always love my time here. Just make sure to choose a hotel from the list above, and you’ll have a memorable stay in the Golden City.

Book Your Trip to San Francisco: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Need a Guide?
San Francisco has some really interesting tours. My favorite company is Take Walks. They have expert guides and can get you behind the scenes at the city’s best attractions. They’re my go-to walking tour company!

Want More Information on San Francisco?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on San Francisco for even more planning tips!

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