Where to Stay in San Francisco: A Guide to The 6 Best Areas to Stay

Where you decide to stay while you’re in San Francisco will have a fairly big impact on what your trip is like. In this guide, you’ll find a variety of neighborhoods to choose from based on your style. We want to match you with the perfect home base to explore San Francisco so that you fall head over heels in love with it just like we have.

There are six neighborhoods where we’d recommend staying for the best San Francisco experience. The criteria we’re using to evaluate them are:

Don’t have time to read the entire guide? Here’s a quick summary.

Read on for a detailed guide to our picks for the best places to stay in San Francisco.

Look, we may be biased on this one. We were lucky to call Nob Hill home together, and even though we don’t live there anymore we still recommend it. Hear us out on why it’s the best area to stay in San Francisco.

It has picturesque tree-lined streets, a wide variety of great restaurants, bars, and things to do, and both iconic cable car lines run directly through it. It’s centrally located with easy access to all corners of San Francisco, and full of hills with sweeping views towards the Financial District and the rest of the Bay Area.

That amazing combination makes it the best place to stay in San Francisco, which is why I chose to live in Nob Hill for years.

Basically, Nob Hill is quintessential San Francisco.

It is at the top of a hill, so take that into account if you have mobility issues. You can always call a Lyft or Uber to get around though. Parking is notoriously difficult, so it’s probably best to visit Nob Hill without a car if you can (you don’t need to rent a car in SF anyway).

Pros: You’ll be centrally located and walkable to Fisherman’s Wharf (if you must), Lombard Street, North Beach, the Embarcadero, and more. Plus, it’s a lovely neighborhood, with stunning views of San Francisco around every corner. The stretch along Polk Street is full of great bars, restaurants, shopping, and more. 

Cons: The biggest issue with Nob Hill, aside from the steep hill part, is that there really aren’t that many places to stay. And a lot of them are expensive for what you’re getting. The south end of the neighborhood, known as “Lower Nob Hill,” is essentially the Tenderloin, which is not the best part of the city. Parking is a nightmare – DO NOT STAY HERE IF YOU HAVE A CAR. 

Here are some things to check out in the neighborhood that we called home. For the purposes of this guide, Russian Hill and Nob Hill are combined. Because it’s close enough.

There are a couple of places to stay in Nob Hill that we think you’ll like, but you’ll need to be prepared for the price tag. This is one of the nicest areas in the city, and the prices here reflect that. 

After we moved out of the city, we decided to do a quick staycation and return to our old stomping grounds in Nob Hill.

We chose Petite Auberge because, along with the sister hotel next door – the White Swan Inn – it feels like the most charming hotel in the area.

In fact, it’s much closer to a bed & breakfast than a hotel. They describe it as part bed & breakfast, part boutique hotel, which seems accurate based on our experience.

The guesthouse sits in a nice spot on Bush Street, walkable to Polk Street and a bunch of great bars and restaurants, walkable to the Financial District and Ferry Building, and walkable to BART.

Next door is one of the best pizza spots in the city – Del Popolo – which actually does room service for Petite Auberge.  Up the block on Bush is one of our favorite cocktail bars in the city, Peacekeeper.

The point is that the location is great.

But what about the rooms? They’re very French-feeling, with floral print wallpaper and wooden furniture. Some rooms have a fireplace, which we very much enjoyed. The rooms are fairly spacious too, which is surprising for a city like San Francisco, which is known for tiny apartments.

Like many buildings in San Francisco, the building is a little bit dated. You can hear the people above you (though, oddly, not next to you) as they move around, and the pipes are loud. But nothing too crazy at all.

The other thing that’s cool about this place is that there are various inclusions – breakfast with coffee from Equator Coffees and pastries, complimentary wine during happy hour in the afternoon, and tea, coffee, and bottled water available throughout the day. There’s a nice outdoor patio area where you can enjoy said complimentary beverages, though it was closed when we were there and we had to go to the White Swan Inn next door.

Parking is expensive, however, at $50+ a day (only valet available), so we’d recommend avoiding bringing a car here if you can.

We used to live about five blocks away from Stanford Court, a boutique hotel in Nob Hill, and I regularly walked by it on California Street on the way to catch the bus to work (or on the cable car!).

This is the best value hotel in San Francisco, at least in our opinion. The location couldn’t be better – it’s right on top of Nob Hill, and it’s right along California Street, one of the main thoroughfares to get downtown. The famous San Francisco cable car is quite literally outside the front door.

They took a break in 2020 and early 2021 to completely remodel the place, and it is looking fantastic. Rooms have modern amenities – including USB charging ports! – and all rooms have a mini-fridge in the room. Plus, you’ll have access to their fitness center (which is actually surprisingly nice with Peloton bikes), and you can rent real bikes for free (though, good luck riding them anywhere other than on top of Nob Hill).

You’ll have good coffee from Equator in your room, and tea from Mighty Leaf tea. Both of which are among the best coffee / tea options I’ve ever seen in a hotel room.

Last but not least, they allow pets. But there is a $50 pet fee, which includes a goodie bag with treats and toys for the pup.

The White Swan Inn is a sister hotel of Petite Auberge above. This place is right on the border of Nob Hill and Union Square on Bush Street, but we’re including it here mostly because it is much closer to the Nob Hill aesthetic than the one you find in Union Square. 

You’ll find a similar set of amenities here as you do at Petite Auberge: free Wifi, breakfast, evening wine, and in-room fireplaces. The amount of food that these two places give you for free is pretty awesome. 

The biggest difference between the two is that the White Swan Inn is English-inspired, rather than French. 

If you’re looking for the most famous upscale hotel in Nob Hill, stay at the Fairmont Hotel. It’s a splurge, but it’s BEAUTIFUL and in an absolutely perfect location at the top of the hill. Alysha has run into multiple celebrities here – she used to plan events for a local nonprofit that took place at the Fairmont. 

Plus, the cool (and touristy, sure) tiki bar Tonga Room is in the basement, so you can drink seven tiki cocktails and stumble straight up to bed!

We almost hesitate to suggest Union Square, because you get none of the charm that makes San Francisco special. But most of San Francisco’s hotels are in Union Square, and it’s super central to everything in the city including public transportation, so it makes the list of best areas to stay in San Francisco almost by default. 

However, if you do stay here, you should plan on spending 99% of your waking hours elsewhere. 

Pros: Tons of nice hotel options. Central to Nob Hill, the Embarcadero, and the Financial District (if you’re in SF for work). Well-connected to other parts of the city via public transportation. 

Cons: ZERO CHARM. Concrete jungle with very little of what makes SF special. Parking is a nightmare – you’ll pay $40+ a night to park, so stay elsewhere if you have a car. The western edge of the neighborhood is adjacent to the Tenderloin, which has some great food and drinks, but is not the nicest neighborhood in SF. 

Honestly, not much. The biggest reason to stay in Union Square is that it has a ton of hotel options, and it’s central and well-connected to the rest of the city. However, we do think that the Ice Cream Museum and SFMOMA are both worth a stop. 

There are a nearly unlimited number of hotel options in Union Square. Some are pretty “meh” while others have unique amenities and design aspects.

Here are five that we like out of the sea of hotels in the area. 

CitizenM Hotels are one of our favorite hotel chains in the world.

We’ve recommended them in Seattle, among other places, and would recommend the CitizenM in Union Square here in San Francisco. In a city full of expensive, old school, hotels, this is a nice, refreshing, modern change of pace that we very much appreciate.

They’re a Dutch hotel chain that has basically made staying in a hotel super easy and streamlined, with all the amenities that modern, younger travelers are looking for (USB charging, climate controls via iPad, and more) while simultaneously stripping out the unnecessary pieces (fluffy robes and slippers or sitting areas, for example) to offer a great value.

The other thing we like is that, in the interest of simplicity and ease, they’ve stripped away all the slightly different room types you find in most hotels (small vs. small deluxe vs. small deluxe with partial city view), and there’s exactly one room type available: a small room with a king bed.

Not ideal for groups who aren’t comfortable sleeping in the same bed (though, it’s probably about the same price to get one room here as it is to get two rooms at most other SF hotels), but perfect for couples and people who don’t mind sharing a bed.

It’s right in the heart of Union Square, a block from the cable car and Powell Street Station (where you can hop on BART to get to/ from the airport or Mission District), and walkable to the Financial District and Ferry Building.

The gorgeous Palihotel San Francisco is on the border between Union Square, Nob Hill, and the Financial District, and offers great access to all three. Plus, it’s a few blocks from Chinatown, which is well worth exploring. I usually wouldn’t recommend staying in Union Square if you can help it, but this place is the exception to the rule.

The hotel, set inside a charming, historic building, has 82 king and queen rooms, a full service restaurant, bar and lounge. Guest rooms feature exposed painted brick walls, Smeg fridges, minibars, 43” HDTV’s, custom bath products and work spaces. They are comfortable and stylish, offering en-suite facilities and a spacious space in which to relax in after a day of shopping and fun in San Francisco!

If you’re traveling to San Francisco by car, you can self-park at Palihotel for $39 per night (which is honestly relatively affordable) and bring your dog with you for an additional charge of $75 per pet, per stay!

Staypineapple hotels are always a little…quirky. But they also usually make the list of good value hotels in cities where they’re operating, like Seattle. 

This stylish hotel is close to dozens of shops, bars, restaurants and theaters and within walking distance of Union Square. In fact, if you’re seeking a hotel with little extras, Staypineapple ticks all the boxes. 

Although, be warned that they charge a $29.95 daily amenities fee (gross – why not just include it in the price?) which gives you access to WiFi, food and drink credits, unlimited bottled water, streaming, and beach cruiser bikes. 

There is double duvet style bedding in each room for extra comfort, plus walk-in showers, Keurig coffee makers, in-room fridges and air conditioning. You can listen to your favorite music courtesy of the iHome Bluetooth docking station or stream TV shows onto a 50” HDTV.

Rooms at Hotel Nikko are decorated with cool hues, wall murals, pillow-top beds, flat screen TV’s and iPod/iPhone docking stations. If you’re traveling to San Francisco for a special occasion, upgrade to an Imperial Club room or suite to get the best views and benefit from Subarashii Ame rain showers!

You should know: there’s a daily amenity fee of $34 (again, WHY?!), but this includes access to the fitness center, indoor swimming pool and WiFi, plus it gives you food and beverage credits.

We think the stylish Found Hotel offers one of the best value stays in San Francisco. Just five minutes from Union Square, its shops, bars and restaurants, and close to the Powell Cable Car Line, it’s a great place for friends and couples to use as a base to explore the city. 

They offer a choice of Superior Queen Rooms with cable TV, AC, WiFi and bathroom with shower, double rooms and shared dorm options, plus there are accommodations available for those with limited mobility.

There are also female only bunk rooms accommodating up to four guests, great for groups visiting the city. There’s a trendy lobby lounge where you can sit and plan your day, and workspace if you need to check in at work or home.

Showcasing San Francisco’s bohemian past in all its glory, is 196 room Hotel Zeppelin, a block from the buzz of Union Square. With designer shopping, theaters and dozens of cafes, bars and restaurants nearby, you’ll never be stuck for places to shop, drink, eat, or be entertained.

Rooms at the Zeppelin are dedicated to the city’s bold and creative residents – the authors, poets and musicians, and in the suites, you’ll discover vintage turntables, artwork, desks and bathroom amenities by ROIL.

There’s a fitness center, 24 hour valet parking for $58 a day plus tax (YIKES), pets can stay with you, and you can even rent bikes and scooters to explore the city sans-car.

We love the creative vibe of this 96 room hip hotel, from the writer’s alcove filled with books in the lobby, to eclectic guest rooms with unique artwork and unusual touches. 

You’ll have free WiFi in the rooms, a 55” flat screen TV, book butler, Bluetooth audio system, luxury bath amenities by ROIL and a Nespresso coffee and tea maker! 

Some rooms have additional accessibility for those with limited mobility, plus the hotel allows you to bring your pet with you for an additional charge. If you plan to drive in San Francisco, valet parking is also available at a cost of $58 per night. So probably don’t stay here if you plan on having a car, or arrange for alternate parking at a nearby garage for your trip. 

North Beach, which is at the northeastern corner of the city, west of Nob Hill and Chinatown, and south of Fisherman’s Wharf, is a cool neighborhood. Traditionally Italian, this is where the Italian-American community in San Francisco ended up, which is not hard to see as you walk the streets. If you’re looking for good pasta and pizza, chances are it’s in North Beach. 

It’s a charming neighborhood by day, and the area around Washington Square Park is one of the most pleasant places to be on a weekend morning. Coit Tower, just up the hill, is worth a stop for the views over the Bay all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The neighborhood also has a slightly seedier side. After dark, the bright neon signs will be advertising everything from bars and restaurants to strip clubs. It’s also a great nightlife spot, which might mean different things to you depending on what stage of life you’re in. 

Pros: Lovely, charming neighborhood. Great Italian food. Easy access to the Financial District and the Embarcadero, as well as Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Cons: Parking is going to be tough. At night, it’s not quite as charming, and it can be loud depending on where you’re staying. It’s going to take you FOREVER to get to places like the Mission and Golden Gate Park, so it’s best if you’re planning to spend most of your time on the eastern half of the city (likely shorter trips). 

There are only a couple of places to stay in North Beach itself, and only two of them are really worthwhile in our opinion.

There are a lot of places to stay at the northern edge of the neighborhood, which is Fisherman’s Wharf. DO NOT STAY THERE. It’s constantly full of people, and is the most touristy part of the city. Worth an hour or two, but not a good place to base yourself. 

The Columbus Inn, which is at the northwestern part of North Beach, is basically the only game in town. It’s walkable to both Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square, and is steps away from North Beach’s best parts. Rooms are simple, coming with either a queen, king, or two full beds.

Parking is free here! That’s a huge plus if you’re traveling with a car, and will likely save you ~$100 over the course of your trip vs. paying for parking at a different hotel, or paying for the parking ticket you got for not paying attention to the confusing signage (we’re not bitter or anything). 

Right on Columbus Avenue, the main stretch in North Beach, Hotel Boheme is a relatively small boutique hotel with just 15 rooms. It was built in the 1800’s by Italian immigrants, and has been remodeled to be reminiscent of 1950’s San Francisco after it was essentially leveled in the 1906 earthquake.

Some rooms are on Columbus, while some rooms are at the back of the hotel, which are quieter, so make sure to ask if you have a preference. The staff and the afternoon servings of sherry are among the highlights here. 

Set along the bustling corridors of Divisadero Street and the famous hippie-haven that is Haight Street, NOPA was our old stomping grounds (Matt lived in the vicinity for four years). If you’re wondering where to stay if you want something charming and walkable, but relatively quiet, this neighborhood is for you. 

First, let’s talk about NOPA. To be completely honest, I had to Google what NOPA actually means (it’s “north of the panhandle”) – that’s just what we’ve always called it. It’s nicely located between Alamo Square to the east and Golden Gate Park to the west, with plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee along Divisadero Street, which is one of the best streets in San Francisco. 

The Haight is the world-famous Haight Ashbury, home of the hippie movement in San Francisco. It’s at the south end of Divis (the way locals refer to Divisadero, pronounced “Diviz”) just south of Alamo Square, and has a great selection of things to eat and drink along Haight Street. 

Both areas are fairly residential, and are super charming and walkable. You’ll find yourself among tree lined streets with the famous Victorians on either side. It’s a very pleasant place to stay, and it’s fairly central to most places you’re going to be visiting on your San Francisco itinerary.

Unfortunately, there’s exactly one hotel here, so choices are limited (to put it mildly).

Pros: If you wanted to spend your entire weekend here and never leave, you would certainly not run out of things to do. You’ll have Golden Gate Park, the Haight Ashbury, and the Inner Sunset basically out your front door. Plus, parking is relatively easy out here, so if you have a car, you can avoid the extra $30+ a day for parking.

Cons: Not the most central neighborhood on this list – plan on a 20+ minute ride to get to the Embarcadero and North Beach. Also, not a whole lot of places to stay in the area. 

Unfortunately, there’s basically only one place to stay in this charming neighborhood, and that’s the Stanyan Park Hotel. It’s at the western end of Haight St (roughly half a block from Alysha’s old office), which puts you right on Golden Gate Park. It’s walkable to the Inner Sunset, NOPA, and of course, Haight Street, which puts you in a great location for exploring some of the less-visited parts of the city that we love. 

Rooms come with breakfast and evening tea service (FANCY), and are decorated in charming Victorian style. They have rooms ranging from standard doubles, perfect for a couple on a budget, to suites that have a kitchen, which are great if you’re traveling with a group or need access to a kitchen. 

Hayes Valley, with its cute tree-lined streets, classic Victorian houses, and uniquely-SF charm, is absolutely one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco. In terms of density of things to see and do, and central location, you really can’t beat it.

But it didn’t used to be that way. Hayes Valley has seen a resurgence in the past few years, and now has become one of the coolest neighborhoods in San Francisco.

It is the most walkable neighborhood in San Francisco (completely flat!), lined with boutiques, trendy restaurants and coffee shops, and art galleries. It’s a one-stop-shop whether you’re looking to do some shopping or looking for a glass of wine or cocktail in the sunshine.

If you stay here, you’ll find yourself a few blocks away from Market Street and all the public transportation options in SF, the Painted Ladies (of “Full House” fame), and some of the best food and drink in San Francisco.

Pros: It’s about as central as you can be, and it’s right on both BART and the MUNI Underground lines, which gives you amazing access to the rest of the city. The neighborhood itself is charming, with tree-lined streets and outdoor spaces to eat and drink. Lots of great food, coffee, and drinking to be done here!

Cons: Not many places to stay in the neighborhood. It’s crowded, which means it’s usually loud and boisterous thanks to the outdoor bars and restaurants. 

You’re not going to believe this – Hayes Valley is ANOTHER neighborhood with very few options in terms of places to stay. There are essentially two hotels here.

The Grove Inn, which is literally a block away from the Painted Ladies, is one of two hotels here that are worthwhile. It’s quiet, clean, and central.

You’ll be smack dab in the middle of Hayes Valley, the Fillmore District, and NOPA, which is a great place to be. Rooms are simple and spacious, and there are a variety of configurations and sizes depending on what your group looks like.

Some of the rooms have bay windows, which will bring in more natural light. 

The Hayes Valley Inn is a great value, particularly for San Francisco, which is generally an expensive city to be in.

As long as you know what you’re getting into – some of the rooms have a shared single-occupancy bathroom down the hall – you’ll be content staying here.

The rooms aren’t huge, and they aren’t decorated in the newest modern styles, but that’s all part of the charm. It’s affordable, central, and would be a great place to spend a few nights while you explore the city. 

The Castro, which is one of the most famous LBGTQ+ neighborhoods in the country, if not the world, is a lovely place to both visit and stay. 

However, we should note before we get into it that if you’re uncomfortable with being in the heart of the LGBTQ+ community in San Francisco, you should not stay here. There are other great neighborhoods in this guide for you to choose from. 

The Castro is lovely. It’s adjacent to the Mission and Hayes Valley, which are both walkable, and just a few blocks from Dolores Park, which is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. And in this part of San Francisco, it’s basically always sunny when fog is taking up residence in the rest of the city.

It’s also right along Market Street, the main thoroughfare to downtown, which means you’re well-connected to the Financial District and Ferry Building thanks to the metro lines.

Pros: This is the heart of the LGBTQ+ community in SF, which you really can’t miss. Rainbow crosswalks, rainbow flags flying from every other building, and more. Drinks are cheap and plentiful in the Castro, and there’s a bunch of good food and shopping too. Plus, the historic Castro Theater is a fun night out. It’s also adjacent to the Mission, which puts you within walking distance of one another one of our favorite areas in the city. 

Cons: The nightlife is legendary, which means it’s not the quietest neighborhood in the city. Which is putting it mildly. There are only a few hotels and B&Bs to choose from. 

Here’s a guide to what to do, eat, and drink in the Castro

There are basically two places to stay in the Castro that are worth your time. Again, like a lot of the neighborhoods on this list, there aren’t very many beds here for tourists, so make sure to book well in advance if you want to stay here.  

The first place that should be on your radar if you want to stay in the Castro is Beck’s Motor Lodge. It’s a renovated motel that still has the outside look and feel of a motel next to a strip mall, but has been renovated to be modern and slick on the inside. 

Beck’s is along the Market Street corridor, which is perfect for getting downtown, and just a few blocks from the hip stretch of Valencia Street in the Mission.

Parker Guest House is part boutique hotel, part bed & breakfast. Either way, it’s in one of our favorite areas of the city, and it’s a great place to base yourself for a trip to San Francisco.

It’s inside an Edwardian mansion that was built in 1909 (after the earthquake). You’ll have your choice between rooms with private bathrooms and rooms that have a shared bathroom down the hall, the latter of which will save you a bit of money if you don’t mind sharing a single-occupancy bathroom with other guests.

The beds are comfortable, the rooms are somewhat spacious, and the location is great. Plus, free continental breakfast and free wine in the afternoons!

The Mission has the best food and drinks in San Francisco. If you’re a foodie, stay in the Mission. You won’t regret it. It’s the best area to stay in San Francisco for the food and drinks alone.

At all hours of the day, the Mission is buzzing, and there is always something to do, see, eat, or drink. It is one of the most vibrant, diverse, and lively neighborhoods in the city. When people talk about the cool neighborhoods in San Francisco, the Mission always seems to be a part of the discussion.

It has some of the best food in the city – you’ll find everything from locally owned and operated taquerias to some of the most upscale, world-renowned restaurants in California. It also is home to some of the best gluten free restaurants in San Francisco, and many of the best bars in San Francisco.

It has been feeling the effects of gentrification as rents rise and the Silicon Valley tech industry shows no signs of slowing down. That’s why you see swanky gastropubs and small batch coffee roasters opening in the last few years next to authentic taquerias that have been around since the 60’s.

That gentrification is also a con of staying here – rising rents have forced out working class families who have lived there for decades – although if you’re concerned about gentrification, San Francisco is essentially one big gentrification hot spot. 

One thing we should note here at the top is that there is a large unhoused population in San Francisco. We love the Mission, but there are certainly parts of it where that population is visible. If you are uncomfortable with that, stay elsewhere (we’d recommend Nob Hill).

As you walk the streets of the Mission, you’ll see some of the street art that makes the area special. Every wall or building serves as a canvas for local artists to express themselves.

Pros: It’s vibrant, energetic, and full of amazing bars, restaurants, shopping, and more. 

Cons: Rising rents have increasingly displaced lifelong residents, forcing them to move out of their homes in service of building new luxury condos and hip brunch spots. This is a reality in basically every neighborhood in San Francisco, but it has been a big issue in the Mission as it has become the “it” neighborhood for people working in the tech industry. There is also a large unhoused population in certain parts of the Mission, which might make you uncomfortable.

There are only a few places to stay in the Mission, and they are both more B&B’s than hotels. Book early, because there’s a very limited number of beds for tourists here. 

The first is Nineteen 06 Mission, which is in a lovely location in the Mission a few blocks from BART for easy access to the rest of the city, a block off of bustling Valencia Street, and a couple of blocks from some of the best food in San Francisco. 

One thing worth noting, the location itself isn’t the best, but it’s nice and central, and the place itself is gorgeous.

Noe’s Nest is a charming bed & breakfast at the south end of the Mission, where it meets Noe Valley. It’s inside a charming Victorian (of course), and they have done some cool stuff with the property that makes it a more unique place to stay than some of the bigger hotels in the city. 

They have a breakfast buffet, a lovely outdoor garden area where you can enjoy the perpetual sun in this part of the city, and thoughtfully designed rooms that match the charm of the surrounding area. 

Parking is tough in this area – it’s restricted to two hours on weekdays – but there’s a parking garage nearby that will cost you $27 a day (which isn’t terrible in this city). 

Heading to San Francisco? Don’t miss our other SF travel guides. They’re written by us, two SF locals (at least for the past decade or so).

Europa Hotel & Hostel

The Europa Hotel is conveniently located in the historic North Beach area, right between Little Italy and China Town.

If you’re looking for a fun area with parties and chances to meet other travelers, you’ve found it! Walk outside in either direction, and you’ll come across many restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. For night entertainment, stop by North Beach’s many bars and clubs!

Tip: If it’s important to have your own bathroom, make sure you call to confirm ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll be sharing a bathroom with other guests.

Looking for a $10k-a-night suite? Or just a good view?

Calling a hotel “the best” is a subjective endeavor.

For some, it’s all about location. For others, it’s space. Then there are those who need a quirky amenity or two to tip the scale.

But there’s no need to choose a favorite here. Because today, we’ve compiled a list of 18 superlatives to celebrate the Bay Area’s top hotels for a variety of use cases.

From a penthouse fit for a king and his retinue, to the best views in town and out, to our favorite aprés-ski scene in Tahoe.

Checking in, please and thank you.

Suite Most Likely to Have Its Own Zip Code
Sixty-two-hundred-square-feet: The Penthouse at the Battery is the size of a five- (or six-) bedroom house. It’s .15 of an acre. It’ll cost (around $10K), but you’ll definitely have room for your family, assistant, au pair, butler, nannies, horses, etc. etc.

Glampiest Glampsite
Unlike many of our canvas-tent glamps (and even their new location in Yosemite), AutoCamp’s Russian River glamp is open year-round — which means we can spread out on their memory-foam mattresses, use the Malin + Goetz amenities, and just generally camp luxuriously all through the winter. Book now for President’s Day and Martin Luther King Day weekends; New Year’s Eve is already sold out.

Top Prospect for 2019
Put it on your calendar: The new Virgin Hotel opens on January 11 at 250 Fourth Street (just two blocks down from the Mosser, for what it’s worth.) We’re especially interested in the rooftop bar, which looks set to compete with our existing favorites for superior drinks/views.

Best In-House Dining
You cannot beat Single Thread Farm. Sure, the restaurant has its two Michelin stars, but only guests get a taste of the private in-room dinner: the donabe hot pot dinner. (A “donabe” is a type of Japanese clayware hot pot.) Breakfast is also in-room, and equally exceptional.

Best Hotel Ghost
Though the Palace has the ghost of President Harding (pretty good, even if he was until recently the worst American president), the St. Francis has room 1219 — where Al Jolson died, and which he reportedly haunts.

Hotel Room Actually Closest to Grapevines
Just look out the window of a Vineyard Suite at Napa Valley’s Senza, and you’ll see grapes. It’s all thanks to winemaker/owners Kathryn and Craig Hall, who produce both cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir under their Hall and Walt labels.

Best Hotel When You Absolutely Positively Must Have Good Weather
Who knows? Ask a Bay Area realtor (we did), and he’ll say that the most reliably good weather in the Bay is Palo Alto’s — but do you really want to go to Palo Alto for a stay at the Nobu? Anecdotally — and any conclusion about weather here must be anecdotal — we’ve only had stellar weather at Auberge du Soleil in Napa.

Best Tahoe Hotel Apres-Ski Scene
Whether you’re there for the s’mores-centric Marshmalogy program, the humungous firepit, or the ski-in/ski-out access to Northstar, the Ritz-Carlton offers the superior post-ski libations.

 Economy Hotel That You Are Most Likely to Forget Is an Economy Hotel
Lose your keys? Piss off your room-/bedmate? So tired you just want to crash, as quickly as possible, and as cheaply as possible? You can do worse than the Mosser, with good-enough rooms a couple steps off Market Street — and not in the Tenderloin. We’ve seen last-minute deals in the mid-two figures.

Best Hotel Rooftop for Pre-Bed Schmoozing
Until we see what the new Virgin on Fourth Street has to offer, our money is still on the Via, especially if you’re headed to a ballgame.

Weirdest Amenity That Is Actually Quite Useful
Sherlock and Watson are cats on the job at the Lodge at Orr Hot Springs, and they will both be adorable and kill mice.

Best Room With a View (City Edition)
This is one of the tallest buildings in the city, with the Loews Regency San Francisco occupying the top 11 floors (of 48). That makes for killer views of, basically, everything. Get a drink at the Skybar (hours: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., closed Mondays, Sundays, and during the winter) — or if you can, figure out a way to get access to the Skydeck, available for meetings, parties, and the like.

Best Room With a View (Ocean Edition)
Oceanview cottages with hot tubs and fireplaces: Mendocino’s Sea Rock Inn, overlooking Agate Cove, ticks all the coastline boxes. (Just bring a jacket.)

Most Over-the-Top Perfect, Chef’s-Kiss-Emoji Dining Experience
You’ll be staying at Campton Place — and more crucially, dining at Srijith Gopinathan’s two-Michelin-starred tribute to Calindian cuisine. (By the way, here’s the chef’s top picks for where else to eat in town — including his favorite huevos rancheros.)

pools (2 images)

Best Year-Round Swimming Experience (Outdoor/Indoor)
Outdoor: It has to be the thermal mineral pool at Indian Springs, which stays year-round at a comfortable 92 – 102 degrees. Indoor: The 15-meter heated pool at Hotel Nikko in Union Square.

Absolutely Positively Sexiest Hotel Experience
The Proper is the sexiest hotel in S.F. — thanks in part to the Kelly Wearstler-designed lounge, and partly to the rooms’ chic black-and-white decor. Plus Villon, the Proper’s restaurant, looks like the setting of the first evening of a forbidden romance.

Our Choice for the Best Humble-Yet-Relaxing Staycation
The Hotel del Sol is probably close to your apartment (if your apartment is anywhere near the Marina), cheerful, and possessed of a pool. There are worse places to hide for a couple nights.

The Hotel For When You Want to Feel Like a Scandinavian Royal
Discreet. Super-luxe. Steps away from grapes. Napa’s Ink House is suitable for visiting royalty — as long as that royalty is from a budget-minded Scandinavian country, and suitably disdainful of excess luxury.

Main image: Auberge Resorts

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Where to Stay in San Francisco: A Guide to The 6 Best Areas to Stay

Where you decide to stay while you’re in San Francisco will have a fairly big impact on what your trip is like. In this guide, you’ll find a variety of neighborhoods to choose from based on your style. We want to match you with the perfect home base to explore San Francisco so that you fall head over heels in love with it just like we have.

There are six neighborhoods where we’d recommend staying for the best San Francisco experience. The criteria we’re using to evaluate them are:

Don’t have time to read the entire guide? Here’s a quick summary.

Read on for a detailed guide to our picks for the best places to stay in San Francisco.

Look, we may be biased on this one. We were lucky to call Nob Hill home together, and even though we don’t live there anymore we still recommend it. Hear us out on why it’s the best area to stay in San Francisco.

It has picturesque tree-lined streets, a wide variety of great restaurants, bars, and things to do, and both iconic cable car lines run directly through it. It’s centrally located with easy access to all corners of San Francisco, and full of hills with sweeping views towards the Financial District and the rest of the Bay Area.

That amazing combination makes it the best place to stay in San Francisco, which is why I chose to live in Nob Hill for years.

Basically, Nob Hill is quintessential San Francisco.

It is at the top of a hill, so take that into account if you have mobility issues. You can always call a Lyft or Uber to get around though. Parking is notoriously difficult, so it’s probably best to visit Nob Hill without a car if you can (you don’t need to rent a car in SF anyway).

Pros: You’ll be centrally located and walkable to Fisherman’s Wharf (if you must), Lombard Street, North Beach, the Embarcadero, and more. Plus, it’s a lovely neighborhood, with stunning views of San Francisco around every corner. The stretch along Polk Street is full of great bars, restaurants, shopping, and more. 

Cons: The biggest issue with Nob Hill, aside from the steep hill part, is that there really aren’t that many places to stay. And a lot of them are expensive for what you’re getting. The south end of the neighborhood, known as “Lower Nob Hill,” is essentially the Tenderloin, which is not the best part of the city. Parking is a nightmare – DO NOT STAY HERE IF YOU HAVE A CAR. 

Here are some things to check out in the neighborhood that we called home. For the purposes of this guide, Russian Hill and Nob Hill are combined. Because it’s close enough.

There are a couple of places to stay in Nob Hill that we think you’ll like, but you’ll need to be prepared for the price tag. This is one of the nicest areas in the city, and the prices here reflect that. 

After we moved out of the city, we decided to do a quick staycation and return to our old stomping grounds in Nob Hill.

We chose Petite Auberge because, along with the sister hotel next door – the White Swan Inn – it feels like the most charming hotel in the area.

In fact, it’s much closer to a bed & breakfast than a hotel. They describe it as part bed & breakfast, part boutique hotel, which seems accurate based on our experience.

The guesthouse sits in a nice spot on Bush Street, walkable to Polk Street and a bunch of great bars and restaurants, walkable to the Financial District and Ferry Building, and walkable to BART.

Next door is one of the best pizza spots in the city – Del Popolo – which actually does room service for Petite Auberge.  Up the block on Bush is one of our favorite cocktail bars in the city, Peacekeeper.

The point is that the location is great.

But what about the rooms? They’re very French-feeling, with floral print wallpaper and wooden furniture. Some rooms have a fireplace, which we very much enjoyed. The rooms are fairly spacious too, which is surprising for a city like San Francisco, which is known for tiny apartments.

Like many buildings in San Francisco, the building is a little bit dated. You can hear the people above you (though, oddly, not next to you) as they move around, and the pipes are loud. But nothing too crazy at all.

The other thing that’s cool about this place is that there are various inclusions – breakfast with coffee from Equator Coffees and pastries, complimentary wine during happy hour in the afternoon, and tea, coffee, and bottled water available throughout the day. There’s a nice outdoor patio area where you can enjoy said complimentary beverages, though it was closed when we were there and we had to go to the White Swan Inn next door.

Parking is expensive, however, at $50+ a day (only valet available), so we’d recommend avoiding bringing a car here if you can.

We used to live about five blocks away from Stanford Court, a boutique hotel in Nob Hill, and I regularly walked by it on California Street on the way to catch the bus to work (or on the cable car!).

This is the best value hotel in San Francisco, at least in our opinion. The location couldn’t be better – it’s right on top of Nob Hill, and it’s right along California Street, one of the main thoroughfares to get downtown. The famous San Francisco cable car is quite literally outside the front door.

They took a break in 2020 and early 2021 to completely remodel the place, and it is looking fantastic. Rooms have modern amenities – including USB charging ports! – and all rooms have a mini-fridge in the room. Plus, you’ll have access to their fitness center (which is actually surprisingly nice with Peloton bikes), and you can rent real bikes for free (though, good luck riding them anywhere other than on top of Nob Hill).

You’ll have good coffee from Equator in your room, and tea from Mighty Leaf tea. Both of which are among the best coffee / tea options I’ve ever seen in a hotel room.

Last but not least, they allow pets. But there is a $50 pet fee, which includes a goodie bag with treats and toys for the pup.

The White Swan Inn is a sister hotel of Petite Auberge above. This place is right on the border of Nob Hill and Union Square on Bush Street, but we’re including it here mostly because it is much closer to the Nob Hill aesthetic than the one you find in Union Square. 

You’ll find a similar set of amenities here as you do at Petite Auberge: free Wifi, breakfast, evening wine, and in-room fireplaces. The amount of food that these two places give you for free is pretty awesome. 

The biggest difference between the two is that the White Swan Inn is English-inspired, rather than French. 

If you’re looking for the most famous upscale hotel in Nob Hill, stay at the Fairmont Hotel. It’s a splurge, but it’s BEAUTIFUL and in an absolutely perfect location at the top of the hill. Alysha has run into multiple celebrities here – she used to plan events for a local nonprofit that took place at the Fairmont. 

Plus, the cool (and touristy, sure) tiki bar Tonga Room is in the basement, so you can drink seven tiki cocktails and stumble straight up to bed!

We almost hesitate to suggest Union Square, because you get none of the charm that makes San Francisco special. But most of San Francisco’s hotels are in Union Square, and it’s super central to everything in the city including public transportation, so it makes the list of best areas to stay in San Francisco almost by default. 

However, if you do stay here, you should plan on spending 99% of your waking hours elsewhere. 

Pros: Tons of nice hotel options. Central to Nob Hill, the Embarcadero, and the Financial District (if you’re in SF for work). Well-connected to other parts of the city via public transportation. 

Cons: ZERO CHARM. Concrete jungle with very little of what makes SF special. Parking is a nightmare – you’ll pay $40+ a night to park, so stay elsewhere if you have a car. The western edge of the neighborhood is adjacent to the Tenderloin, which has some great food and drinks, but is not the nicest neighborhood in SF. 

Honestly, not much. The biggest reason to stay in Union Square is that it has a ton of hotel options, and it’s central and well-connected to the rest of the city. However, we do think that the Ice Cream Museum and SFMOMA are both worth a stop. 

There are a nearly unlimited number of hotel options in Union Square. Some are pretty “meh” while others have unique amenities and design aspects.

Here are five that we like out of the sea of hotels in the area. 

CitizenM Hotels are one of our favorite hotel chains in the world.

We’ve recommended them in Seattle, among other places, and would recommend the CitizenM in Union Square here in San Francisco. In a city full of expensive, old school, hotels, this is a nice, refreshing, modern change of pace that we very much appreciate.

They’re a Dutch hotel chain that has basically made staying in a hotel super easy and streamlined, with all the amenities that modern, younger travelers are looking for (USB charging, climate controls via iPad, and more) while simultaneously stripping out the unnecessary pieces (fluffy robes and slippers or sitting areas, for example) to offer a great value.

The other thing we like is that, in the interest of simplicity and ease, they’ve stripped away all the slightly different room types you find in most hotels (small vs. small deluxe vs. small deluxe with partial city view), and there’s exactly one room type available: a small room with a king bed.

Not ideal for groups who aren’t comfortable sleeping in the same bed (though, it’s probably about the same price to get one room here as it is to get two rooms at most other SF hotels), but perfect for couples and people who don’t mind sharing a bed.

It’s right in the heart of Union Square, a block from the cable car and Powell Street Station (where you can hop on BART to get to/ from the airport or Mission District), and walkable to the Financial District and Ferry Building.

The gorgeous Palihotel San Francisco is on the border between Union Square, Nob Hill, and the Financial District, and offers great access to all three. Plus, it’s a few blocks from Chinatown, which is well worth exploring. I usually wouldn’t recommend staying in Union Square if you can help it, but this place is the exception to the rule.

The hotel, set inside a charming, historic building, has 82 king and queen rooms, a full service restaurant, bar and lounge. Guest rooms feature exposed painted brick walls, Smeg fridges, minibars, 43” HDTV’s, custom bath products and work spaces. They are comfortable and stylish, offering en-suite facilities and a spacious space in which to relax in after a day of shopping and fun in San Francisco!

If you’re traveling to San Francisco by car, you can self-park at Palihotel for $39 per night (which is honestly relatively affordable) and bring your dog with you for an additional charge of $75 per pet, per stay!

Staypineapple hotels are always a little…quirky. But they also usually make the list of good value hotels in cities where they’re operating, like Seattle. 

This stylish hotel is close to dozens of shops, bars, restaurants and theaters and within walking distance of Union Square. In fact, if you’re seeking a hotel with little extras, Staypineapple ticks all the boxes. 

Although, be warned that they charge a $29.95 daily amenities fee (gross – why not just include it in the price?) which gives you access to WiFi, food and drink credits, unlimited bottled water, streaming, and beach cruiser bikes. 

There is double duvet style bedding in each room for extra comfort, plus walk-in showers, Keurig coffee makers, in-room fridges and air conditioning. You can listen to your favorite music courtesy of the iHome Bluetooth docking station or stream TV shows onto a 50” HDTV.

Rooms at Hotel Nikko are decorated with cool hues, wall murals, pillow-top beds, flat screen TV’s and iPod/iPhone docking stations. If you’re traveling to San Francisco for a special occasion, upgrade to an Imperial Club room or suite to get the best views and benefit from Subarashii Ame rain showers!

You should know: there’s a daily amenity fee of $34 (again, WHY?!), but this includes access to the fitness center, indoor swimming pool and WiFi, plus it gives you food and beverage credits.

We think the stylish Found Hotel offers one of the best value stays in San Francisco. Just five minutes from Union Square, its shops, bars and restaurants, and close to the Powell Cable Car Line, it’s a great place for friends and couples to use as a base to explore the city. 

They offer a choice of Superior Queen Rooms with cable TV, AC, WiFi and bathroom with shower, double rooms and shared dorm options, plus there are accommodations available for those with limited mobility.

There are also female only bunk rooms accommodating up to four guests, great for groups visiting the city. There’s a trendy lobby lounge where you can sit and plan your day, and workspace if you need to check in at work or home.

Showcasing San Francisco’s bohemian past in all its glory, is 196 room Hotel Zeppelin, a block from the buzz of Union Square. With designer shopping, theaters and dozens of cafes, bars and restaurants nearby, you’ll never be stuck for places to shop, drink, eat, or be entertained.

Rooms at the Zeppelin are dedicated to the city’s bold and creative residents – the authors, poets and musicians, and in the suites, you’ll discover vintage turntables, artwork, desks and bathroom amenities by ROIL.

There’s a fitness center, 24 hour valet parking for $58 a day plus tax (YIKES), pets can stay with you, and you can even rent bikes and scooters to explore the city sans-car.

We love the creative vibe of this 96 room hip hotel, from the writer’s alcove filled with books in the lobby, to eclectic guest rooms with unique artwork and unusual touches. 

You’ll have free WiFi in the rooms, a 55” flat screen TV, book butler, Bluetooth audio system, luxury bath amenities by ROIL and a Nespresso coffee and tea maker! 

Some rooms have additional accessibility for those with limited mobility, plus the hotel allows you to bring your pet with you for an additional charge. If you plan to drive in San Francisco, valet parking is also available at a cost of $58 per night. So probably don’t stay here if you plan on having a car, or arrange for alternate parking at a nearby garage for your trip. 

North Beach, which is at the northeastern corner of the city, west of Nob Hill and Chinatown, and south of Fisherman’s Wharf, is a cool neighborhood. Traditionally Italian, this is where the Italian-American community in San Francisco ended up, which is not hard to see as you walk the streets. If you’re looking for good pasta and pizza, chances are it’s in North Beach. 

It’s a charming neighborhood by day, and the area around Washington Square Park is one of the most pleasant places to be on a weekend morning. Coit Tower, just up the hill, is worth a stop for the views over the Bay all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The neighborhood also has a slightly seedier side. After dark, the bright neon signs will be advertising everything from bars and restaurants to strip clubs. It’s also a great nightlife spot, which might mean different things to you depending on what stage of life you’re in. 

Pros: Lovely, charming neighborhood. Great Italian food. Easy access to the Financial District and the Embarcadero, as well as Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Cons: Parking is going to be tough. At night, it’s not quite as charming, and it can be loud depending on where you’re staying. It’s going to take you FOREVER to get to places like the Mission and Golden Gate Park, so it’s best if you’re planning to spend most of your time on the eastern half of the city (likely shorter trips). 

There are only a couple of places to stay in North Beach itself, and only two of them are really worthwhile in our opinion.

There are a lot of places to stay at the northern edge of the neighborhood, which is Fisherman’s Wharf. DO NOT STAY THERE. It’s constantly full of people, and is the most touristy part of the city. Worth an hour or two, but not a good place to base yourself. 

The Columbus Inn, which is at the northwestern part of North Beach, is basically the only game in town. It’s walkable to both Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square, and is steps away from North Beach’s best parts. Rooms are simple, coming with either a queen, king, or two full beds.

Parking is free here! That’s a huge plus if you’re traveling with a car, and will likely save you ~$100 over the course of your trip vs. paying for parking at a different hotel, or paying for the parking ticket you got for not paying attention to the confusing signage (we’re not bitter or anything). 

Right on Columbus Avenue, the main stretch in North Beach, Hotel Boheme is a relatively small boutique hotel with just 15 rooms. It was built in the 1800’s by Italian immigrants, and has been remodeled to be reminiscent of 1950’s San Francisco after it was essentially leveled in the 1906 earthquake.

Some rooms are on Columbus, while some rooms are at the back of the hotel, which are quieter, so make sure to ask if you have a preference. The staff and the afternoon servings of sherry are among the highlights here. 

Set along the bustling corridors of Divisadero Street and the famous hippie-haven that is Haight Street, NOPA was our old stomping grounds (Matt lived in the vicinity for four years). If you’re wondering where to stay if you want something charming and walkable, but relatively quiet, this neighborhood is for you. 

First, let’s talk about NOPA. To be completely honest, I had to Google what NOPA actually means (it’s “north of the panhandle”) – that’s just what we’ve always called it. It’s nicely located between Alamo Square to the east and Golden Gate Park to the west, with plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee along Divisadero Street, which is one of the best streets in San Francisco. 

The Haight is the world-famous Haight Ashbury, home of the hippie movement in San Francisco. It’s at the south end of Divis (the way locals refer to Divisadero, pronounced “Diviz”) just south of Alamo Square, and has a great selection of things to eat and drink along Haight Street. 

Both areas are fairly residential, and are super charming and walkable. You’ll find yourself among tree lined streets with the famous Victorians on either side. It’s a very pleasant place to stay, and it’s fairly central to most places you’re going to be visiting on your San Francisco itinerary.

Unfortunately, there’s exactly one hotel here, so choices are limited (to put it mildly).

Pros: If you wanted to spend your entire weekend here and never leave, you would certainly not run out of things to do. You’ll have Golden Gate Park, the Haight Ashbury, and the Inner Sunset basically out your front door. Plus, parking is relatively easy out here, so if you have a car, you can avoid the extra $30+ a day for parking.

Cons: Not the most central neighborhood on this list – plan on a 20+ minute ride to get to the Embarcadero and North Beach. Also, not a whole lot of places to stay in the area. 

Unfortunately, there’s basically only one place to stay in this charming neighborhood, and that’s the Stanyan Park Hotel. It’s at the western end of Haight St (roughly half a block from Alysha’s old office), which puts you right on Golden Gate Park. It’s walkable to the Inner Sunset, NOPA, and of course, Haight Street, which puts you in a great location for exploring some of the less-visited parts of the city that we love. 

Rooms come with breakfast and evening tea service (FANCY), and are decorated in charming Victorian style. They have rooms ranging from standard doubles, perfect for a couple on a budget, to suites that have a kitchen, which are great if you’re traveling with a group or need access to a kitchen. 

Hayes Valley, with its cute tree-lined streets, classic Victorian houses, and uniquely-SF charm, is absolutely one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco. In terms of density of things to see and do, and central location, you really can’t beat it.

But it didn’t used to be that way. Hayes Valley has seen a resurgence in the past few years, and now has become one of the coolest neighborhoods in San Francisco.

It is the most walkable neighborhood in San Francisco (completely flat!), lined with boutiques, trendy restaurants and coffee shops, and art galleries. It’s a one-stop-shop whether you’re looking to do some shopping or looking for a glass of wine or cocktail in the sunshine.

If you stay here, you’ll find yourself a few blocks away from Market Street and all the public transportation options in SF, the Painted Ladies (of “Full House” fame), and some of the best food and drink in San Francisco.

Pros: It’s about as central as you can be, and it’s right on both BART and the MUNI Underground lines, which gives you amazing access to the rest of the city. The neighborhood itself is charming, with tree-lined streets and outdoor spaces to eat and drink. Lots of great food, coffee, and drinking to be done here!

Cons: Not many places to stay in the neighborhood. It’s crowded, which means it’s usually loud and boisterous thanks to the outdoor bars and restaurants. 

You’re not going to believe this – Hayes Valley is ANOTHER neighborhood with very few options in terms of places to stay. There are essentially two hotels here.

The Grove Inn, which is literally a block away from the Painted Ladies, is one of two hotels here that are worthwhile. It’s quiet, clean, and central.

You’ll be smack dab in the middle of Hayes Valley, the Fillmore District, and NOPA, which is a great place to be. Rooms are simple and spacious, and there are a variety of configurations and sizes depending on what your group looks like.

Some of the rooms have bay windows, which will bring in more natural light. 

The Hayes Valley Inn is a great value, particularly for San Francisco, which is generally an expensive city to be in.

As long as you know what you’re getting into – some of the rooms have a shared single-occupancy bathroom down the hall – you’ll be content staying here.

The rooms aren’t huge, and they aren’t decorated in the newest modern styles, but that’s all part of the charm. It’s affordable, central, and would be a great place to spend a few nights while you explore the city. 

The Castro, which is one of the most famous LBGTQ+ neighborhoods in the country, if not the world, is a lovely place to both visit and stay. 

However, we should note before we get into it that if you’re uncomfortable with being in the heart of the LGBTQ+ community in San Francisco, you should not stay here. There are other great neighborhoods in this guide for you to choose from. 

The Castro is lovely. It’s adjacent to the Mission and Hayes Valley, which are both walkable, and just a few blocks from Dolores Park, which is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. And in this part of San Francisco, it’s basically always sunny when fog is taking up residence in the rest of the city.

It’s also right along Market Street, the main thoroughfare to downtown, which means you’re well-connected to the Financial District and Ferry Building thanks to the metro lines.

Pros: This is the heart of the LGBTQ+ community in SF, which you really can’t miss. Rainbow crosswalks, rainbow flags flying from every other building, and more. Drinks are cheap and plentiful in the Castro, and there’s a bunch of good food and shopping too. Plus, the historic Castro Theater is a fun night out. It’s also adjacent to the Mission, which puts you within walking distance of one another one of our favorite areas in the city. 

Cons: The nightlife is legendary, which means it’s not the quietest neighborhood in the city. Which is putting it mildly. There are only a few hotels and B&Bs to choose from. 

Here’s a guide to what to do, eat, and drink in the Castro

There are basically two places to stay in the Castro that are worth your time. Again, like a lot of the neighborhoods on this list, there aren’t very many beds here for tourists, so make sure to book well in advance if you want to stay here.  

The first place that should be on your radar if you want to stay in the Castro is Beck’s Motor Lodge. It’s a renovated motel that still has the outside look and feel of a motel next to a strip mall, but has been renovated to be modern and slick on the inside. 

Beck’s is along the Market Street corridor, which is perfect for getting downtown, and just a few blocks from the hip stretch of Valencia Street in the Mission.

Parker Guest House is part boutique hotel, part bed & breakfast. Either way, it’s in one of our favorite areas of the city, and it’s a great place to base yourself for a trip to San Francisco.

It’s inside an Edwardian mansion that was built in 1909 (after the earthquake). You’ll have your choice between rooms with private bathrooms and rooms that have a shared bathroom down the hall, the latter of which will save you a bit of money if you don’t mind sharing a single-occupancy bathroom with other guests.

The beds are comfortable, the rooms are somewhat spacious, and the location is great. Plus, free continental breakfast and free wine in the afternoons!

The Mission has the best food and drinks in San Francisco. If you’re a foodie, stay in the Mission. You won’t regret it. It’s the best area to stay in San Francisco for the food and drinks alone.

At all hours of the day, the Mission is buzzing, and there is always something to do, see, eat, or drink. It is one of the most vibrant, diverse, and lively neighborhoods in the city. When people talk about the cool neighborhoods in San Francisco, the Mission always seems to be a part of the discussion.

It has some of the best food in the city – you’ll find everything from locally owned and operated taquerias to some of the most upscale, world-renowned restaurants in California. It also is home to some of the best gluten free restaurants in San Francisco, and many of the best bars in San Francisco.

It has been feeling the effects of gentrification as rents rise and the Silicon Valley tech industry shows no signs of slowing down. That’s why you see swanky gastropubs and small batch coffee roasters opening in the last few years next to authentic taquerias that have been around since the 60’s.

That gentrification is also a con of staying here – rising rents have forced out working class families who have lived there for decades – although if you’re concerned about gentrification, San Francisco is essentially one big gentrification hot spot. 

One thing we should note here at the top is that there is a large unhoused population in San Francisco. We love the Mission, but there are certainly parts of it where that population is visible. If you are uncomfortable with that, stay elsewhere (we’d recommend Nob Hill).

As you walk the streets of the Mission, you’ll see some of the street art that makes the area special. Every wall or building serves as a canvas for local artists to express themselves.

Pros: It’s vibrant, energetic, and full of amazing bars, restaurants, shopping, and more. 

Cons: Rising rents have increasingly displaced lifelong residents, forcing them to move out of their homes in service of building new luxury condos and hip brunch spots. This is a reality in basically every neighborhood in San Francisco, but it has been a big issue in the Mission as it has become the “it” neighborhood for people working in the tech industry. There is also a large unhoused population in certain parts of the Mission, which might make you uncomfortable.

There are only a few places to stay in the Mission, and they are both more B&B’s than hotels. Book early, because there’s a very limited number of beds for tourists here. 

The first is Nineteen 06 Mission, which is in a lovely location in the Mission a few blocks from BART for easy access to the rest of the city, a block off of bustling Valencia Street, and a couple of blocks from some of the best food in San Francisco. 

One thing worth noting, the location itself isn’t the best, but it’s nice and central, and the place itself is gorgeous.

Noe’s Nest is a charming bed & breakfast at the south end of the Mission, where it meets Noe Valley. It’s inside a charming Victorian (of course), and they have done some cool stuff with the property that makes it a more unique place to stay than some of the bigger hotels in the city. 

They have a breakfast buffet, a lovely outdoor garden area where you can enjoy the perpetual sun in this part of the city, and thoughtfully designed rooms that match the charm of the surrounding area. 

Parking is tough in this area – it’s restricted to two hours on weekdays – but there’s a parking garage nearby that will cost you $27 a day (which isn’t terrible in this city). 

Heading to San Francisco? Don’t miss our other SF travel guides. They’re written by us, two SF locals (at least for the past decade or so).

San Francisco Travel Tips

Before we dive into our San Francisco neighborhood guide, here are a few quick tips that you’ll need to know before you start planning your trip.

We’ve got some more helpful – and only mildly helpful – tips for visiting San Francisco in our guide to things nobody tells you about San Francisco!

If your check-in and check-out times don’t sync up with your need to roam the streets and you need a place to store your bags check out LuggageHero, a service that helps you find a safe place to keep your luggage while you’re running around! Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into which areas to stay in San Francisco!

1. The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco is a luxurious hotel set in a 19th-century Neoclassical mansion. Formerly the headquarters of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, the hotel boasts marble interiors and art on the walls.

The hotel offers many fine amenities, including a hair dryer and bathrobes. It also caters to dietary restrictions. Afternoon tea and wine tastings are offered in the lounge.

Located in the prestigious Nob Hill district, this hotel is a seven-minute drive from Union Square and the Palace of Fine Arts. You can take the cable car from the hotel to the latter.

Alternatively, take the hotel’s free shuttle to get to the city’s attractions. Once you’re at the hotel, don’t miss the chance to experience the best of San Francisco’s culture and cuisine.

Historically, The Ritz is a 1909 building that was constructed as the headquarters of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. It was restored in 1991 and has received numerous awards and accolades.

You’ll find it hard to believe that this historic landmark was once a mere insurance company’s headquarters. However, the hotel’s modern comforts are reminiscent of a movie set.

In addition to its luxury amenities, the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, also offers several recreational activities. The hotel has a fitness center, sauna, and spa. For those looking for some outdoor fun, there’s a poolside bar for you to enjoy.

You can also find countless places to shop. A cable car stop is just outside the hotel, so you can take a trip to the Golden Gate. When you arrive, you can’t help but feel pampered in this five-star hotel.

Best Places to Stay in San Francisco: Union Square

One of the best places to stay in San Francisco is in Union Square. It’s the perfect choice for those visiting for the first time or those that have visited already.

The reason this is such a great choice is that it’s centrally located, you can easily access public transportation, and there are a wide range of options from budget accommodations to five-star gems.

In Union Square, you are walking distance to high-end and budget-friendly shopping, a variety of restaurants, and fun areas to enjoy our nightlife. You are also just a quick walk or cab ride away from Oracle Park where you can catch an SF Giants game, the theater district where you can see a traveling Broadway show, or unique districts such as Chinatown, North Beach, and Nob Hill.

You can also easily get to the attractions and activities in Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s about a 20 to 25-minute ride by bus or historic streetcar.

When I’m asked about the best places to stay in San Francisco, Union Square is my answer most of the time.

Here are a few of the top-rated hotels in this district.

Click here to find recent guest reviews and more details for these hotels and others.

You will also find some additional recommendations on my Union Square hotels page.

Things to Do in Union Square: Find tips and ideas on what there is to see and do here. It also includes information on places close by. Discover more here.

Theater Calendar: If you would love to see a show during your stay, this is where you will find a calendar of upcoming performances. The largest productions are usually booked about a year in advance, while smaller theaters add new performances all of the time. Check back often to find new listings for your stay.

SF Museum of Modern Art: The SF MOMA is just a short walk away from Union Square which is another reason it’s one of the best places to stay in San Francisco. This modern arts museum offers thousands of pieces from well-known artists from around the world. Find visiting tips here.

SFO to Union Square: Use my comprehensive guide to help you get from SFO to Union Square.

Downtown SF Hotels: You will also find some other great hotels in Union Square and all around downtown SF on my downtown SF Hotels page. View them here

Where to Stay in San Francisco

There are many neighborhoods in San Francisco, each with its own distinctive vibe, scenery, history, and charm. Some popular areas to consider are North Beach, Japatantown, Mission District, Union Square, North Beach, Castro, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Union Square and its surrounding area is one of the most popular neighborhoods to stay in San Francisco. It is centrally located, and hotels in and around this area offer breathtaking views. It’s also a premiere shopping destination, offering every clothing brand imaginable! Don’t miss out on a photo op at the Maiden Lane or riding on the famous cable car.

North Beach and Chinatown are two neighborhoods situated near each other with excellent dining options. North Beach is lined with trees and foliage and has historic sights like the Sentinel Building and Transamerica Pyramid. And Chinatown transports you to a whole other place – crowded streets during the day and quiet lanes with colorful street art and bright lanterns in the evening. 

15 BEST AIRBNBS IN SAN FRANCISCO BY NEIGHBORHOODS

This selection of the best airbnbs in San Francisco covers budget and luxury airbnbs in San Francisco, CA.

It includes the most amazing airbnbs in San Francisco: from cozy studios, spacious apartments, rooms in boutique hotels, to family-friendly houses.

The list of best San Francisco airbnbs is sorted by the top San Francisco neighborhoods travelers love.

The Marina District is one of the loveliest oceanfront neighborhoods in San Francisco.

It is located between Fisherman’s Warf and the Golden Gate Bridge. Chestnut Street is the main commercial strip, with stylish shops, upscale restaurants, and popular bars.

This beautiful house in the Marina District is elegantly decorated in neo-classical style and with Carrara marble details. The house has 7 bedrooms, 7 beds (one king bed, four queen beds, 2 single beds), 4 baths, a gorgeous living room, a spacious full kitchen, an elegant dining room, a cozy family room, and a private backyard with outdoor seatings and a BBQ. It fits 8 people. The house comes with free parking on-premises.

This Marina District house is a great choice for families, a group of friends, or business colleagues who travel to San Francisco by car and want to be in a prime location in San Francisco.

Historic Fisherman’s Wharf is an oceanfront neighborhood of San Francisco and the home of San Francisco’s fishing fleet.

It is one of the most famous San Francisco neighborhoods with many must-see tourist attractions like PIER 39, Ghirardelli Square, the National Maritime Museum, Anchorage Square, and Historic Hyde Street Pier.

This small but comfortable studio in Fisherman’s Wharf has everything a visitor to SF needs: a queen bed, a queen sofa, a kitchen, and a bathroom. And it suits 4 people.

The studio is located in the neighborhood and just a block from iconic Fisherman’s Wharf and within short walks to many must-see SF attractions.

Chinatown is centrally located and one of the historic neighborhoods of San Francisco. San Francisco Chinatown is the second-largest Chinatown in America after New York City, but the oldest Chinatown in the USA.

This amazing apartment is one of the best airbnbs in San Francisco for the panoramic views of the San Francisco Skyline and the San Francisco Bay.

The apartment has 2 bedrooms with 2 beds (one double bed and one queen bed, a kitchen, a living/dining room, a small balcony, a working space, and 1 bathroom. It can accommodate 6 people.

If you want to be in the center of San Francisco with the most amazing views, you need to check out this apartment.

North Beach is a centrally located SF neighborhood known as San Fransisco’s Little Italy.

It is dotted with amazing restaurants for outdoor dining, delicious trattorias, pizzerias, coffee shops, gelato shops, and live music clubs. The neighborhood is known as one of ten “Great Neighborhoods in America”.

This eclectically decorated apartment in Little Italy is one of the most amazing airbnbs in San Francisco. The owner is a world traveler who decorated the apartment with some fine artwork from her travels.

The apartment has 2 bedrooms, 2 queen beds, a kitchen, a dining room, and a small alleyway patio with two chairs to sip coffee in the morning or wine in the evening. The apt fits 4 guests.

SF downtown, the Wharf, Union Square, Lombard, Chinatown, Russian Hill Coit Tower, and many other must-see sites in San Francisco are within walking distance or a short drive.

If you love cozy and arty places and want to be nearby everything that San Francisco has to offer, especially if you are a foodie who appreciates food from Italy, this is the place to be!

Russian Hill is San Francisco’s neighborhood just up the hill from North beach. Russian Hill is a safe and affluent residential neighborhood with world-famous crooked Lombard Street.

This adorable Edwardian apartment has 2 bedrooms, 2 queen beds, 1 bathroom, a kitchen, and office space. It fits 4 people.

It is located in a quiet street at the top of Russian Hill and near a bunch of great restaurants. North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, Cow Hollow, Union Square, Marina, the Financial District, Chinatown, and Chestnut Street are within walking distance.

Telegraph Hill is oceanfront San Francisco’s neighborhood famous as the spot for watching the flocking of colorful parrots and the places where the oldest bars in SF are.

This luxe suite has 1 king bed, a bathroom, a work desk, and a backyard. It fits 3 guests. The suite is in a family house but with a separate and private entrance.

Coit Tower, Washington Square Park, Fisherman’s Wharf , and Financial District are within a few minute walk.

This guest suite is a perfect place for couples who wish to be centrally located in San Francisco.

Mission District in San Francisco is a bohemian, arty and multicultural neighborhood with Latino roots known for magnificent murals, art galleries, trendy boutiques, great restaurants, and the 18th century Mission Dolores. 

This shiny and bright apartment in the Mission has 1 bedroom with one queen bed, a kitchen, a living and dining area, and a private garden. It fits 2 people.

If you are a couple who appreciates sipping wine in a garden and who enjoys art, this lovely apartment in the arty Mission District could be your private heaven in San Francisco.

The Castro is one of the most famous neighborhoods in San Francisco located between arty Mission District and the chic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The Castro is famous for the LGBT community, great nightlife, street art, and the iconic Castro Theater from 1922.

This Bali-style apartment in the Castro has one bedroom with one queen bed, one ensuite bathroom, a full kitchen, a dining room, a living room with an indoor fireplace, a workspace with an additional queen bed, a private tropical garden with a hot tube and a fire pit. It suits 4 people.

The place is located in a quiet street and it comes with free parking on premises. ·

This apartment is great not only for short visits to San Francisco but also for longer staycations.

If you are looking for a serene staycation in San Francisco, you should definitely check out this apartment.

Haight-Ashbury is a historic San Francisco neighborhood with well-preserved and colorful Victorian buildings, vintage and quirky shops, bookstores, exotic restaurants, and the 1960s vibe.

Haight-Ashbury was the center of the hippie movement in the 1960s, and today is the center of alternative lifestyles, fashion, and food.

This stylish apartment on the top floor of an Edwardian building has 3 bedrooms, 4 beds (a king bed, a queen bed, and a bunk bed), a full kitchen, a dining room, a living room, 2 bathrooms, and a patio. It suits 7 people.

The place is available for a long-term rent, aka 31 nights minimum.

Pacific Heights is a historic and upscale San Francisco residential neighborhood with beautiful architecture and the amazing 360 views of San Francisco city. The neighborhood features homes of the richest San Franciscans, classy fine dining restaurants, and high-end shops.

This spectacular house with floor-to-ceiling windows, stylish furnishings, and a beautiful garden in Pacific Heights is a true one of a kind home. The home has 2 bedrooms, 2 double beds, 1.5 baths, a full kitchen, a dining room, and a living room facing a magical garden. It accommodates 4 people.

If you are traveling with your family and would like to stay in a unique oasis in the middle of San Francisco, this house is the one to rent.

Western Addition is a trendy neighborhood well-known for multicultural history. Actually, Western Addition covers Fillmore, Japantown, Alamo Square, Hayes Valley, and Lower Pacific Heights. Some of the finest examples of Victorian architecture buildings, including the iconic ‘Painted Ladies’ of Alamo Square, are in Western Addition.

This private guest suite in Western Addition is only several steps away from Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies. The suite has one bathroom with one queen bed, en-suite bathroom, a kitchen and a living room, and a small outdoor place to relax. It suits 2 people.

The suite is a part of the row Victorian house from 1895.

If you are traveling solo or with your partner, there’s no doubt you would enjoy this awesome Victorian suite. Additionally, if you are traveling by car, a parking space is an easy find in the street in front of the suite.

Presidio is the greenest neighborhood in San Francisco and the largest outdoor recreational area in the heart of San Francisco. In fact, it is a national park and National Historic Landmark District with epic viewpoints, great hiking trails, wonderful cycling paths, gorgeous picnic spots, beautiful beaches, playgrounds, tennis courts, and more. Presidio overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Presidio is the oldest neighborhood of San Francisco and the core of the city where San Francisco started. It covers 20tish micro-neighborhoods within the Presidio Park.

This charming Victorian townhouse next to Presidio Park comes with 3 bedrooms, 3 queen beds, 1.5 baths, a spacious kitchen, a working space, and a garden. The house fits 7 people. It is a great rental for families who are outdoor lovers.

If your family would like to stay in an authentic San Franciscan house and next to hiking trails and green playgrounds of Presidio Park, you should check out this home.

Financial District is the business center of San Francisco, popularly called ‘The Wall Street of the West Coast’.

The Financial District is also commonly called Downtown San Francisco. The neighborhood is dotted with business skyscrapers and offices, including the headquarters of several Fortune 500 companies, luxury hotels, upscale restaurants, and chic bars. The Transamerica Pyramid in Financial District dominates the San Francisco skyline.

Galleria Park hotel is the only boutique hotel in the Financial District recommended by Forbes.

This room Galleria Park comes with one queen bed and a private bath. It can fit 2 people.

If you are on a business trip to San Francisco, most likely you will appreciate the location and the comfort of this hotel room in San Francisco downtown.

SoMa, or South of Market street, is a rare flat neighborhood of San Francisco. Once an industrial district, today SOMA is an art hub with several museums, hip nightclubs, chic boutiques, and upscale restaurants.

This amazing roof deck apartment in SoMA has 2 bedrooms, 2 beds (a king bed and a queen bed), 2 baths, a modern full kitchen, a dining room, a living room, and a fantastic deck to sip morning coffee, watch the sunsets and enjoy the wine in the evening. The apartment suits 5 people.

If you appreciate boho-style places with incredible roof decks in arty neighborhoods, you will love this apt in SoMa in San Francisco.

Nob Hill is one of the most prestigious neighborhoods of San Francisco with ultra-rich historic maisons, top luxury hotels, extravagant restaurants, amazing art galleries, and upscale shops. Nob Hill is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the USA.

This apartment in Nob Hill is one of the coolest airbnbs in San Francisco. The apt is uniquely decorated in pop art style. Actually, the stylish apartment was designed by an honored architect. The apartment has 2 bedrooms, 2 queen beds, 1.5 baths, a full kitchen, a dining room, and a living room facing a backyard patio. It suits 4 people.

If you seek unique stay for a memorable trip to San Francisco, you need to check out this airbnb apartment in Nob Hill.

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Hotel Emblem

Of all the hotels in San Francisco that are near Union Square, Emblem is my top choice for creatives. Cozy and boutique, Hotel Emblem is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Theater District, five minutes from the Square.

Emblem’s design is inspired by the bohemian artist history of SF, with decor that nods to famous Beat Generation writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Keeping with the hotel’s literary theme, guests can use the typewriter in the lobby to bring life to their ideas. Other literature-related stuff includes a writer’s Alcove in the lobby, including books and relics related to the Beat Generation.

Free things to do in San Francisco with kids

Here’s an easy one to start with: you and your kids will definitely want to see that classic view of the Golden Gate Bridge as it crosses the bay. One of the best places for viewing is from Chrissy Field in the Presidio. Chrissy Field is a huge grassy area, so feel free to bring a ball and let the kids run around with all the local kids. There’s also a packed dirt path running along the water where kids can ride their scooters. Make sure to read this book together beforehand to get the inside scoop on the bridge!

The Presidio is actually part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. What does that mean for you? It has a Junior Ranger program! We didn’t manage to do this one, but you can check out the book here to see if it’s a good fit for your family. We always find Junior Ranger programs to be great educational resources for the whole family!

The Ferry Building Marketplace at Pier 1 is mainly a high-end food hall these days, with a wonderful view of the harbor put the back. Three times per week, on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday, there’s an enormous farmers market and craft fair (more of a Saturday thing) set up in the surrounding area. Our kids loved exploring the handmade art, jewelry and knock-knacks and then sampling fresh local fruits, delicious cakes and even African iced tea. The farmer’s market finishes at 2pm each day.

It’s great to time your visit around lunch time as there’s a wide range of food trucks behind the building. Alternatively, you can always go inside and visit one of our favorites, Frog Hollow Farms. It’s not the cheapest lunch around but the produce and baked goods are extremely fresh and flavorful – hard to resist! Don’t skip the fruit desserts, which use fruit grown on their own farm in the area.

After you finish at the Ferry Market Building, spend the rest of the afternoon strolling along the wharf. Yes, it can be crowded with tourists. But it’s still worth doing on a nice day! If you make it all the way to Pier 39, you can even hang with the famous sunbathing sea lions.

Check out more can’t-miss activities for your first time in San Francisco

Why would you take children to a bank on vacay? Right?

No really. The Wells Fargo Museum, which almost no one seems to have heard of, was one of the most fun and interactive places we visited in SF with kids! The museum tells the story of the banks history but uses it as a lens to explore 19th century American history, westward expansion, the gold rush and technological innovation.

Kids learn about different types of currency used in the US at the time of the gold rush, and then get to print their own with their faces on it. They learn why the stagecoach was so important, and then take a ride in one. Test your communication skills upstairs with a working telegraph machine and an early telephone.

There’s so much to do at the Wells Fargo Museum and our family could have stayed for hours! We actually had to drag the kids out kicking and screaming. It’s an especially great choice if you’re looking for things to do in San Francisco in the rain.

What’s a better icon of San Francisco than the cable car? The system dates back over a century and has a fascinating, if somewhat fragmented, history.

This museum will appeal to two types of families: those who are very interested in the city’s history and those who love things that move. You’ll get an up-close view from both above and below of the mechanism that keeps the city’s three cable car lines running. The Cable Car Museum is not for those who dislike loud noises – at least one member of our crew didn’t care for it because the sound of the machinery can be deafening.

Another place that most people never visit (but should) is the lovely little Randall Museum right in the middle of the city!

The upper level focuses on regional wildlife, while the lower level has a mix of interactive activities ranging from a guessing game about minerals to a shake table with blocks to simulate an earthquake. There’s also a model train room and a wooden train layout (BYO Brio or Thomas, as it’s pricey to rent them at the desk).

Our favorite activity at the Randall Museum was learning about the predatory birds, who are invited down from their perches beginning 30 minutes before closing time. They’re offered food and the handler does a “keeper talk” to educate visitors about the birds, their unique characteristics and the threats they face in San Francisco. Note that all of the animals at the Randall Museum are rescues – even the raccoon.

For those visiting with the youngest kids, there’s a separate play room for babies and toddlers just behind the welcome desk. Don’t miss the incredible city view from the back terrace!

When you find yourself in Golden Gate Park – as you almost certainly will – don’t be afraid to pop into the DeYoung Museum for a quick trip up to the observation tower. It’s completely free (unlike the main museum) and offers incredible views of the whole city. There’s also a small, free interactive space for kids on the ground floor.

It would be a shame to take your kids to San Francisco and not hit up at least one of the wonderful playgrounds. One of the most popular is Dolores Park, which has amazing slides but is often packed on weekends if the weather is nice. There’s also a lovely playground (and lots of room to scoot!) at Alamo Square, and it’s hard to beat the views.

If you have a car and want a fun day trip out of the city, make your way to the Jelly Belly Factory in Vallejo for a free tour – samples included! It provides a great behind-the-scenes look at the process behind making one of America’s favorite candies. If you or your kids have never visited a modern working factory, be prepared to be mesmerized and awed!

If you want to balance the sugar rush with a more adult treat, pair your factory visit in the morning with an afternoon of wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley. It lacks some of the cache of Napa but is a much friendlier atmosphere. Pick up lunch at Angelo’s Deli and then have a picnic out back at Lawsln whole your kids play lawn games like corn hole and bocce ball. It can get very busy with San Francisco families on the weekend, so schedule this for a weekday if possible.

After Lawson and one more winery (perhaps Cline, another kid-friendly pick) stop by the Sonoma town square. Grab an ice cream at ____ and let the kids burn off some steam at the playground before you hear back to the city.

Best Family Hotels in San Francisco Compared

From family-friendly accommodations to exceptional amenities, there are many options for family-friendly hotels in San Francisco.

Here are my top picks for a quick reference guide.

Here are the top 12 hotels in San Francisco for families.

Pros

Cons

The Palace Hotel is one of those historic properties that exude luxury from the very outset.

If you are traveling with family, you can choose the standard rooms — superior or deluxe — that can sleep up to four people with two double beds.

The suites sleep three people but connecting rooms are also available upon request.

The property offers complimentary cribs and you can reserve childcare services in advance.

Both the kids and the parents will enjoy breakfast at the Garden Court with its stained-glass finish and spend some time soaking in the indoor heated swimming pool and jacuzzi, which is perfect for the windy SF weather.

Pros

Cons

If you are wondering where to stay in San Francisco with kids, the Four Seasons property never disappoints.

The family accommodations offered by the property include standard rooms with two queen beds or suites that come with a sofa bed in the living area.

You can also opt for the premier rooms where a rollaway bed can be added.

There is an indoor swimming pool but only children older than 15 are allowed in the area.

For the younger ones, the hotel offers cookies and milk at the time of check in and babysitting can also be arranged upon request.

Pros

Cons

There are many kid-friendly hotels in San Francisco but this list cannot be complete without a mention of the Sheraton at Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the most popular areas for tourists in SF.

The property offers guestrooms with two double beds, which are ideal for families as they can sleep up to four people.

As one of the family-friendly hotels in San Francisco, CA., the hotel also offers complimentary cribs and rollaway beds on request.

Both the on-site restaurant and room service offer a children’s menu for all meals.

There is also a heated outdoor swimming pool on the property.

With a heated outdoor swimming pool and family-friendly accommodations, Handlery Union Square is an excellent alternative to The Sheraton and The Four Seasons hotels.

The Handlery Union Square is another one of the popular family-friendly places to stay in San Francisco.

In terms of accommodation, the rooms come equipped with two double beds, mini-fridges and air conditioning, while cribs are available upon request.

The property has a heated outdoor swimming pool for the family to relax, while babysitting can be arranged if mom and dad want to step out for some quality time together.

Related: Best Things to Do in San Francisco

Hotel del Sol has quickly become one of the favorite accommodation options for a San Francisco family vacation because of the relatively affordable pricing and impressive room styles.

The suites for families come with bunk beds and a kitchenette, while the hotel is always happy to send across some toys and board games for the kids.

Breakfast is complimentary and there is an outdoor swimming pool — again, heated!

They will also give you beach balls and sunglasses for the kids for free.

Also See:
Best Resorts in Los Angeles for Families
Best Family Hotels in Los Angeles

The JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square is one of those properties that you can choose even with your eyes shut.

The rooms are spacious, well appointed and devoid of much clutter, which allows the family to truly spread out.

The property has a restaurant and bar on site.

There is also a fitness center that will allow you to burn some of the calories that you consume while exploring the city.

Pets are welcome but there is an additional fee.

Related: Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids

If you are looking to explore Chinatown during your time in SF, the Orchard Garden Hotel offers rooms and suites that sleep up to four people and works great for families.

All rooms are air-conditioned and come with mini-fridges and cribs on request.

There is a fantastic restaurant on the rooftop, which puts out scrumptious kid-friendly food for all meals.

Also See:
Family Hotels in San Diego
San Diego All Inclusive Resorts

The Fairmont is another historic hotel that captures the essence of the city of San Francisco.

The property offers rooms that can sleep up to four people but connecting rooms can also be requested.

For an added fee, you can get cribs or rollaway beds, as well as babysitting services.

If you want room service, you can also ask for customized picnic lunches.

Otherwise, the restaurant has a children’s menu to keep the kids happy.

Keep an eye out for the Nutcracker themed events in December.

Related: Best Family Resorts Near San Francisco

Also See:
Family Resorts in Northern California
Where to Stay in Palm Springs with Family

With rooms that can sleep up to four people and complimentary cribs, the Marriott Marquis is an accommodation option to consider on your next trip to San Francisco.

There is an on-site restaurant that can whip up many child-friendly food options, while the indoor heated swimming pool is always that little extra you need when on vacation.

Also See:
Waterpark Hotels in Palm Springs

The Omni San Francisco Hotel is ideal for families because of how much it has to offer to the children.

When you check-in, kids get a goodie bag, as well as free refills of milk and soda whenever they want. Evenings are for complimentary milk and cookies.

There are kids suites available, which come with bunk beds and toys.

The parents can also request babysitting services.

As for teenagers, free city walking tours depart from the hotel entrance.

Related: Best Restaurants in San Francisco

The Fairmont Heritage Place offers one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites that can sleep up to eight people when you are traveling in groups.

The accommodation comes with its own kitchen and dining area, along with access to a washer and dryer for the times when kids act like kids.

While the property does offer free breakfast, you can also avail of the grocery shopping service.

Also See:
San Diego Family Resorts

The Westin St. Francis is another historic accommodation option in San Francisco.

Extremely convenient because of the central location, it offers many different room styles to patrons, all of which are air conditioned and come with mini-fridges.

Kids get a goodie bag when they first check-in and the restaurant has a separate children’s menu for all meals.

Related: Best Hotels in San Francisco

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