Whether for a cool staycation or a city break, discover the best 6 hotels in the city's historic and cultural center
While San Francisco is renowned for its diversity of neighborhoods, Downtown is the city’s historic and contemporary core. It’s here where eager gold seekers flocked by the boatful during the 19th century Gold Rush (with many of their waterborne relics still buried under the streets).
Downtown is also the city’s premiere shopping center with scores of storefronts filling up touristy Union Square. And don’t forget the iconic cable cars, which depart from Downtown before ascending the city’s famously steep hills. It’s little wonder, then, that Downtown is also home to the largest concentration of lodging in the city. From big name brands to stylish boutiques, here are the best hotels in downtown San Francisco for your next city breakor staycation!
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Spin Vinyl and Shoot Hoops at this Groovin' San Francisco Hotel
As its name might suggest, theHotel Zeppelinoozes vintage rock ‘n’ roll vibes with boho-chic interiors and visual references to San Francisco’s Summer of Love. The hotel’s 196 suites and guest rooms invite lounging with hooded jersey robes, Nespresso machines, and, in select rooms, vintage turntables.
There’s more fun to be had in The Den, a basement level rec room stocked with mini basketball hoops and free games of Skee-Ball. You’ll also find drinks in a fireplace-warmed lobby bar, and more substantial fare such as spicy salami pizza and smoked bacon-topped burgers at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Rambler.
Step outside the hotel for your fill of the many shops and eateries that pack Union Square. After browsing boutiques such as AllSaints, Warby Parker, and Saks Fifth Avenue, grab a cocktail at Benjamin Cooper, and enjoy a round of bowling at Fifth Arrow. And, as with all Union Square addresses, the cable cars and transportation hub of the Powell Street MUNI/BART Station are a short stroll away.
Hotel Zeppelin San Francisco
8.4 Very good (1579 reviews)
A Boutique San Francisco Hotel with Shopping and Speakeasy Cocktails
An oversized Plinko game greets guests at theHotel Zetta, a youthful Union Square boutique hotel whose playful features foster a fun, hip atmosphere. Rooms have the feel of an urban loft with butcher block desktops, mosaic-tiled bathrooms, and connectivity to link your smartphone with flat screen TVs. Yet, downstairs is where you’ll find the real fun. The hotel’s chic lobby bar, Salvage & Rescue, features a mezzanine-level playroom equipped with pool tables, shuffleboard, and video games.
Next door, check out the Cavalier, a stylish brasserie with English-inspired bites such as Scotched duck eggs and lamb scrumpets. Request a seat at Marianne’s, and you’ll be discreetly ushered into a richly dressed cocktail salon hidden behind a bookcase.
If you’re looking to load up some shopping bags, you’re in the right place. Situated within the Union Square area, the hotel is surrounded by countless shops and boutiques, including big name brands such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom located in the massive Westfield Centre immediately next door. And with the city’s public transportation hubs just a half a block away, you can quickly access any point throughout the city.
Hotel Zetta San Francisco, a Viceroy Urban Retreat
8.8 Excellent (1634 reviews)
Enjoy Commanding Views of the City at San Francisco's Tallest Hotel
Outside of a helicopter, you won’t find better views than at theLoews Regency San Francisco. Occupying the top 11 floors of a 721-foot highrise, this outpost of the upscale lodging brand is the tallest hotel in San Francisco, and delivers with abird’s-eye view of the city and surrounding bay.
Guest rooms are thoughtfully equipped with binoculars—and squeaky clean windows—allowing guests to survey city landmarks such as Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Mount Tamalpais in the near distance. In addition to drop-dead stunning views, the blissfully soundproof rooms also feature dreamy bedding and exceptional service.
The hotel is smack in the middle of the city’s Financial District, a hub of office buildings that hum throughout the workweek. Things slow down during the evenings and weekends, but guests are within easy walking distance of notable neighborhoods, including Chinatown, North Beach, and Union Square. Plus, BART and MUNI, the city’s public transportation lines, are just two blocks away. But, before heading out to one of the many nearby eateries, make sure to grab a sunset drink at Spirits in the Sky, a seasonal, open-air cocktail bar with spectacular views perched on the 40th floor.
Loews Regency San Francisco
9.3 Excellent (1248 reviews)
Creature Comforts Rule at this Dashing San Francisco Hotel
Like “Downton Abbey” meets “Absolutely Fabulous,”theWhite Swan Innmashes traditional English Country elements with a brash, mod palette. While bold modern artworks may not seem the likely complement to wing back armchairs and floral patterned wallpaper, the end result is as comforting as it is visually stimulating.
Guest rooms sport the same boutique-meets-B&B aesthetic, plus perks such as fireplaces, pillow-top mattresses, and deep soaking tubs. A fireplace-lit parlor invites guests to gather over board games and afternoon wine and nibbles, while mornings bring a complimentary breakfast of pastries, eggs, and fruit. Plus, there are fresh-baked cookies offered all day.
If you can tear yourself away from the cozy interiors and complimentary goodies, you’ll find much of San Francisco at your feet. The hotel sits at the edge of Union Square, a shopping paradise, and Nob Hill, home to the regal mansions of 19th century railroad magnates. And just beyond, you’ll discover the lantern-strung streets of Chinatown, and the Italian restaurant-lined sidewalks of North Beach.
White Swan Inn
8.9 Excellent (1733 reviews)
Smartly-Designed Digs at a San Francisco Hotel Steps From the Cable Cars
With the outdoor depot for the city’s iconic cable cars just outside its front doors, theAxiom Hoteloffers guests a taste of quintessential San Francisco. The Union Square hotel sits on a bustling, pedestrian-only block where visitors from around the globe line up to board the historic trolleys.
Yet, step inside the Axiom, and you’re quickly immersed in a quiet serenity and style. Set within a renovated 1908 building, the hotel melds historic architecture with contemporary design. Sleek guest rooms make smart use of the space with extra perks such as plush robes, Bluetooth radios, and an abundance of USB outlets. And you can ditch the plastic water bottles, thanks to filtered ice and water stations situated on all guest floors.
A marble-sheathed, lobby cafe offers a simple menu of pastries, sandwiches, and wine, while downstairs, a glowing pink, neon “Work It” marks the compact but modern fitness center. Plus, in addition to the cable cars, you’re also steps to Powell Street Station whose numerous train lines will speed you to any destination in the city. Once you’ve had your fill of Union Square’s world-class shopping, you can easily reach neighborhood destinations such as the Civic Center’s performing arts centers and the many restaurants and bars of the hip Mission District.
Axiom San Francisco
7.7 Good (2347 reviews)
Relax at this San Francisco Hotel with Waterfront Views & Spa
Situated on the Embarcadero, a broad waterfront promenade that ambles along the city’s eastern shores, theHotel Vitaledishes up awesome views of the San Francisco Bay. Splurge for a waterview room, and you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the shoreline, marked by the dramatic span of the 1936 Bay Bridge.
All rooms feature contemporary furnishings, spa-style limestone bathrooms, and free WiFi. Aside from offering the same waterfront views, Spa Vitale is famed for its deep soaking tubs set within a bamboo-sheathed, rooftop garden. You’ll also enjoy those same mesmerizing water views at Americano Restaurant & Bar, which features cocktails and Cal-Italia pizza best enjoyed on the outdoor patio overlooking the bay.
Thanks to its setting on the Embarcadero, guests can enjoy a scenic stroll to numerous attractions including Fisherman’s Wharf, the science-oriented exhibits at the Exploratorium, and Oracle Park, the dazzling waterfront home of the San Francisco Giants. Yet, perhaps the biggest attraction is across the street at the San Francisco Ferry Building, a foodie mecca whose grand 1898 structure houses specialty food stalls and farmers markets throughout the week. And don’t miss a photo underneath nearby “Cupid’s Span,” a 60-foot bow and arrow sculpture by artist Claes Oldenburg.
1 Hotel San Francisco
8.8 Excellent (267 reviews)
What is the best area to stay in San Francisco? ›
- Downtown San Francisco. ...
- Nob Hill. ...
- Pacific Heights. ...
- North Beach, San Francisco. ...
- The Marina and Cow Hollow. ...
- The Mission. ...
- SoMa. ...
- Russian Hill.
Nob Hill is considered one of the safest places in San Francisco due to its low crime rate. Marina District is another great neighborhood that is generally safe during the day and night, with a clean environment and easy parking.Where to stay in SF without a car? ›
Union Square is also the best area to stay in San Francisco without a car because it is the most convenient location with good public transportation, and many things are located within a walking distance. There is the Tram Routes round to Fisherman's Wharf and the historic Cable Cars.What area is downtown San Francisco? › Where to Stay when vacationing in San Francisco? ›
The Best Areas to Stay in San Francisco: We recommend staying in Haight-Ashbury, Hayes Valley, The Castro, or North Beach. The Best Hotels in San Francisco: Our top hotel picks are The Stanyan Park Hotel, The Hayes Valley Inn, and Parker Guest House. Pick any one of those 3 options and you're golden.What is the most beautiful street in San Francisco? ›
A steep and curvy street with spectacular views
Lombard Street is a famous landmark in San Francisco.