San Francisco Hotels
Palihotel San Francisco
417 Stockton St., Union Square
If we were to dream up the ideal, minimalist urban loft, the Palihotel—nestled right by heart-of-the-action Union Square—is it. Worn white brick walls, low-to-the-ground beds with warm striped throws, stylish mid-century-style chairs, and copper light fixtures distinguish the roomy spaces, and, like its sister properties, this outpost is sympathetic to the existing neighborhood style with its imposing, Mission Revival-style façade. Inside, though, soft pastel colors, plenty of stripes, and vintage-looking floral patterns adorn the common areas (which feel made for the freelance traveler who needs to bust out emails but appreciates pretty surroundings and quick service). Foodwise, Fisher Loft on the second floor is the kind of spot you check out for breakfast and come back for dinner: the burgers, jammy eggs, frisée salad, and (if you’re feeling extra) caviar service are menu standouts.
San Francisco Proper Hotel
45 McAllister St., Mid-Market
We stand behind anything Kelly Wearstler lays her bejeweled fingers on. The Wearstler-designed San Francisco Proper Hotel is a reason in itself to come here for a weekend. Located in the gritty-cool Mid-Market area, the Proper’s aesthetic echoes that of the surrounding streets. Interiors are a mashup of old and new, of clashing and complementary. Walking into the color-saturated lobby—with its medley of mirrors, paintings, and eccentric prints—feels instantly welcoming. Both the vibe and the music are intentionally upbeat. Guest rooms are on the small side but incredibly comfortable, and in a city as crowded as San Francisco, the bedside concierge tablet is a godsend for both recs and reservations. After supper out on the town, the best way to wind down is with a cocktail or steaming cup of tea on the wraparound rooftop, warmed by the firepits.
The Inn Above Tide
30 El Portal, Sausalito
The ferry out of the San Francisco docks is right at the entrance to this 31-room Sausalito inn. The clean, modern rooms (most come with working fireplaces and glass decks) are designed with floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of the panoramic bay views, which beat out all the expected luxury amenities on offer any day.
1800 Sutter St., Pacific Heights
This is the kind of place you book on your second or third trip to San Francisco as there's nothing touristy about it, especially the off-the-beaten-path Japantown location—some of Fillmore Street's best shopping and food is just a stone's throw away. This is one of Kimpton's newer properties so it has that great new-hotel smell in addition to chic, understated décor and some of the most comfortable guest rooms in the city.
125 3rd St., Financial District
If you have the deep pockets to cover the hefty bill and a taste for splash, this is definitely one of the places where you want to stay in San Francisco. Like any St. Regis property, excellent service is a given, as are large, soothing rooms complete with all the luxury bells and whistles. The hotel is steps from some of the city’s most notable sights (SFMOMA is right next door, so is the Jewish Contemporary Museum and Union Square). Plus, there's an onsite Remède spa.
950 Mason St., Nob Hill
Quite possibly the most popular wedding venue in all of San Francisco, the Fairmont is kind of an essential stop, even if it's just to take in the lobby in all its candy-colored, chintzy glory. The massive 592-room hotel sits at the top of Nob Hill and is home to a wonderful fancy restaurant, a great afternoon tea service, and honeybee hives in the herb garden. Then there's the gloriously kitschy Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar. A Tiki bar, complete with a lagoon and spontaneous indoor thunderstorms, may be the last thing you'd expect to see inside a Fairmont but it kind of works.
55 5th St., Union Square
At over 100 guest rooms, Zetta is a pretty big operation (it's a member of the Viceroy family, so expect a certain level of sceney-ness), but thanks to so many welcoming touches and one-of-a-kind local art sprinkled throughout, it feels totally boutique. The guest rooms are particularly well equipped to accommodate business travelers with customizable desk spaces and high-tech gadgetry throughout.
2901 Pacific Ave., Pacific Heights
There's nothing particularly hip or design-y about this old school Pacific Heights hotel, but it's classic, comfortable, and centrally located (grab a bike and explore on two wheels). They're really big on hospitality, so there are usually treats or wine set up in the lobby.
600 Stockton St., Financial District
Like any Ritz property, this one is unabashedly luxurious, but what's really exceptional here, is the Nob Hill location. Touristy but mandatory Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, and the Ferry Building are all within walking distance, and Chinatown is literally a block away. After a day of hoofing it all over town, the freshly redesigned rooms and on-site spa are a godsend, as is the complimentary Ritz Kids club.
The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel
495 Geary St., Union Square
This gem celebrated its 100th birthday a couple of years ago (it did receive a Philippe Starcke makeover in the interim) making it particularly good time to book a stay. In the famously ornate lobby you'll find furniture pieces by Ray and Charles Eames and Salvador Dali; the standard rooms while on the tight side make up for it in comfort and beautiful pastel-hued décor. Downstairs, the plush Redwood Room is perfect for drinks and snacks at the stretch bar which lent the local-approved lounge its name.