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Splurge vs. Save: Comparing SF's Budget and Luxury Hotels

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When you spend big on a hotel for a night in San Francisco, what do you really get for your money? If you're on a budget, how different will your experience be from that of the big spenders? To answer these questions, we stacked up some of San Francisco's less expensive hotels against the luxury set. If you're on a budget, you can easily spend less than $200 on a room, at least on a weeknight, which will most likely be quirky and historic. You'll probably get Wi-Fi included and maybe even free parking or a glass of afternoon sherry. On the other hand, if you have $500 or more to spare for a night, you'll enjoy full-service fitness clubs, fancy linens and bath products, and maybe even a butler service, but you'll pay extra on top of your room rate for Internet. Budget Options

The Nob Hill Inn is one of the cheaper hotels in town. For $110 per night you get to stay in a historic inn that offers you a free glass of tea or sherry in the afternoon, cable TV, and traditional claw-foot tubs. Over at the Inn on Castro, a small bed and breakfast, you'll receive fresh flowers, an ample breakfast and free brandy in a restored Edwardian building. If you're willing to share a bath you'll pay $125 per night, and if you want your own the price jumps to $165.

With a little more cash you can stay at the coolest hotel in town, the Phoenix, which will cost as little as $169 per night some weeknights. The courtyard may be noisy and it's on the edge of the Tenderloin, but you have the chance to see a rockstar (Joan Jett, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Killers are just some of the rock luminaries who have stayed) and they offer up free passes to the Kabuki Springs & Spa in Japantown. Or, head to the Phoenix's sister Hotel del Sol, which is a family-friendly former motor lodge transformed into a kitschy boutique hotel. There are palm trees and hammocks in the courtyard and afternoon cookies and milk are served, but their website warns that bathrooms are small.

Luxury Options

At the other end of the scale is the St. Regis. Rooms start at $675 per night, but they do come with the signature St. Regis Butler service, which will press your clothes, unpack your suitcase and bring you a personalized weather forecast in the morning. Rooms at the St. Regis are all at least 450 square feet and have 13" LCD TVs in the bathroom.

One of the biggest differences between luxury and budget is the decorating. Budget options tend to offer up older furniture in an eclectic style, while the Mandarin Oriental, which starts at $725 per night, boasts Italian marble showers and and furnishings "decorated in the soft colors of the sea, sky and clouds." In splurge hotels, robes and slippers are also on offer, and they all have spas and top-of-the-line fitness centers, some of which offer classes like yoga and spinning, onsite. At the Ritz Carlton, where rooms start at $639 per night, there is a complimentary town car service for trips within two miles. Upgrading to Club Level for an extra $60 gets you access to food tastings inspired by San Francisco neighborhoods such as the Mission and North Beach and wine tastings from award-winning local vintners.

Comparing Suites

Finally, if it's a suite you're after, you could either check in at the San Remo Hotel, where the penthouse has antique furniture, stained glass windows and skyline views for a couple hundred dollars or head to a 2,300 square foot Speciality One-Bedroom Suite at the Fairmont. You'll get custom hand-woven rugs and a wine refrigerator with more than 30 bottles of wine hand-selected by the hotel's sommelier, but you'll also pay at least $8,000 per night.

Nob Hill Inn

1000 Pine Street, , CA 94109 Visit Website

The Phoenix Hotel

601 Eddy St., San Francisco, CA 94109

St. Regis

125 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 Visit Website