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The exterior of a hotel in San Francisco. The facade is white with multiple windows and trees in front. Shutterstock

The 21 most essential San Francisco hotels

Check into one of these stylish lodgings

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“Where should I stay in San Francisco?”

You could do Airbnb. Why not? Many do. But it can be risky. (Spotting a homeowner’s half-used Kirkland toiletries in the bathroom is always a deflating sight.) For visitors who yearn for more top-drawer treatment, staying at one of San Francisco’s many hotels is a must. It’s also ideal for locals who want to get away for the night without having to leave the 7x7-mile confines of the city.

Only the best hotels have made this cut; though keep in mind, the list is presented in no particular order. The collection includes historical stunners like the Palace, the Fairmont, the Sir Francis Drake, the Obama-approved Intercontinental (one of several SF hotels with a presidential suite), the even the kitschy coolness at the Clift.

Lesser-known locations like the Ocean Park Motel and the Phoenix Hotel feature outdoor amenities like a hot tub and a pool, respectively.

Want to stay in San Francisco but also not feel like you’re in the middle of a major metropolitan area? Head north to the Inn at the Presidio or the Lodge at the Presidio, both of which are in the middle of a federal park.

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Lodge at the Presidio

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This newly renovated hotel, billed as the closest lodging in the city to the Golden Gate Bridge, is the sister property of the Inn at the Presidio. The three-story, 42-room hotel occupies one of the five identical barracks built between 1895-97 by the U.S. Army to accommodate six artillery companies, a calvary troop, and two infantry companies. It’s also one of 470 structures in the Presidio on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Hotel Del Sol

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This hotel was built as a motor lodge in the mid 1950s and was fully renovated in 2013. The main attraction is the hotel’s inner courtyard, which features an outdoor heated pool. Though swimming is what attracts many of the hotel’s visitors, additional perks include palm trees with hammocks.

Bonus: Hotel Del Sol is one of 10 hotels certified by the SF Green Business Program.

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Inn at the Presidio

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This is the place to stay if you want to escape the city without having to actually leave the city. It’s located at Pershing Hall in the heart of the Presidio, and used to house unmarried U.S. Army officers. Built in 1903, the Georgian Revival-style building emerged from a historic rehabilitation in 2011.

Hotel Vitale

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Hotel Vitale is known for its swankiness and its luxurious amenities. Highlights include Spa Vitale’s outdoor soaking tubs, and culinary delights at Americano, the hotel’s restaurant and lounge. Of special note: the upstairs spa and pawesome pets policy. (Yes, dogs are allowed.)

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Fairmont San Francisco

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Built in 1907, the hotel underwent an $85,000,000 restoration to return it to its original turn-of-the-century glory. Fun facts: Tony Bennett first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in the Venetian Room; the $18,000 per night penthouse suite is the most expensive in the city; and delegates from countries around the world met in the historic Garden Room in 1945 to draft the charter for the United Nations.

Hotel Drisco

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While most rooms offer up sweeping views of San Francisco, guests often go all out and opt for one of the “city view” suites. Hotel Drisco has a great reputation, which is further proven by its loyal guests and by employees who have been with the hotel for many, many years. Be sure to check out the pillow menu.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

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For well-heeled families and business travelers, this hotel should top your list if luxury and amenities galore are a requirement. (The hotel’s Pampered Pooch suite is a must for any extravagant dog owners.) The hotel, which opened in 1991, is housed in a 140-year-old building in Nob Hill. If money’s not a problem, stay in the Club Level on the top two floors. It grants guests access to a 24-hour concierge as well as a social area stocked with fresh food and drinks for the taking.

InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

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This hotel has stood the test of time and continues to be one of San Francisco’s greatest destinations. The 19-story hotel’s architecture is a combination of French chateau and Spanish Renaissance. Built and named after one of the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad, the hotel was built after Mark Hopkins’ jaw-dropping mansion was destroyed in the three-day fire that followed the 1906 earthquake.

Be sure to visit the Top of the Mark bar, where epic views of the entire city can be seen from nearly every seat.

The Scarlet Huntington

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The Georgian-style brick building atop Nob Hill features 135 guest rooms and suites. The entire hotel was renovated in 2015. Highlights here include the Nob Hill Spa and the Big Four restaurant. This hotel is often used by locals for vacationing inside the city. One of San Francisco’s finest.

Sir Francis Drake Hotel

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This beautifully restored landmark boutique hotel is half a block from Union Square and steps from Chinatown. Be sure to spend your evening partying at the legendary Starlight Room, which is a 1930s-style nightclub on the 21st floor.

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Palace Hotel

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This grand dame is one of San Francisco’s most iconic hotels, where visitors can sip afternoon tea while gazing up at the Garden Court’s stained-glass dome or take a tour of the property. This Beaux-Arts gem is rich with history and is consistently ranked among the top luxury hotels in the world. (Even if Tony-winning Broadway star Patti LuPone disagrees.)

Originally built in 1875, the hotel was destroyed in a fire following the 1906 earthquake. Palace Hotel opened on December 19, 1909.

The hotel has played host to numerous historic events, including President Woodrow Wilson’s speech in the Garden Court in support of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding died while in office at the Palace Hotel, in #8064, an eighth floor room that overlooks Market Street.

The Laurel Inn

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Honoring its 1950s design heritage while adding a contemporary vibe, this unabashedly midcentury boutique hotel unveiled its much-needed renovation earlier in 2017. They also have a great pro-pets policy, making their Instagram tag a must-see.

The exterior of the Laurel Inn in San Francisco. The facade is white with multiple windows. Photo courtesy of Joie de Vivre Hotels’ The Laurel Inn

Hotel Adagio

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This revamped boutique hotel pairs historic details with contemporary design, and features the largest hotel rooms downtown. Of special note: the penthouse suite, which features a deck big enough for small parties.

Moody. #HotelAdagio #Tenderloin #SanFrancisco #SF

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The Clift

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Clift’s the go-to spot for the design-oriented young and posh set, especially since the interiors are designed by the world-famous Philippe Starck. With highlights like the very glamorous Redwood Room and frequent celebrity spottings, this is the place to be if your scene is being seen.

Note: The oversized Alice in Wonderland-themed chair has become an Instagram must for visitors.

A post shared by The Clift (@theclift) on

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco

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Similar to the nearby St. Regis, this five-star hotel is a mix of lodgings and residences. What sets this hotel apart is a second-floor check-in with one of the most relaxing lobbies in town. Also of note, this place isn’t just for business travelers or major league teams visiting from out of town. The rooms are ideal for locals looking to get away for a spell, with some of the best views in town. Amenities include spa, fitness center, bar, and restaurant.

A room at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. There is a couch, tables, chairs, windows, and works of art on the walls. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons

The St. Regis San Francisco

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The Museum of the African Diaspora is located within the five-star hotel, and SFMOMA is right next door. An appointment at Remède Spa should be required, as should a round of cocktails inside the stunning hotel lobby bar. The fitness center has private yoga and Pilates studios as well as a heated indoor lap pool.

W San Francisco

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The place where locals and tourists alike come to play, the W San Francisco is the perfect place if you’re looking to party while having every need met—no matter how ridiculous. The hotel regularly attracts a healthy mix of young tech folk and out-of-towners looking to get wild at the hotel bar, with plenty of time spent in its state-of-the-art gym called FIT.

Design geeks should note that San Francisco star designer Stanley Saitowitz designed the lobby and restaurant.

Hotel Zetta San Francisco

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This 116-room hotel opened in 2013, and it’s quickly become the go-to spot for vacationers looking to party in style and posh locals who want to spend an evening dining at the adjacent Cavalier. Don’t miss out on the Plinko-inspired ball game in the lobby.

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Phoenix Hotel

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The Phoenix Hotel is a riff on a classic 1950s beach motel. The main attraction is the courtyard, which features an azure-blue-tiled pool and sculpture garden. Not surprisingly, it was named one of America’s coolest hipster hotels in 2012.

Proper Hotel

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Design fans will want to check in a Proper Hotel, a 131-room hotel conceived by Los Angeles-based Kelly Wearstler. A mic of contemporary and midcentury looks make up the Tenderloin flatiron building. The rooftop lounge, Charmaine’s, is where locals and visitors alike gather to take in the view and see the action below on Market Street.

Ocean Park Motel

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Ocean Park Motel in the Outer Parkside was built in 1936 and looks every bit the part. The motel was honored by the Art Deco Society of California in 1987 for “preservation of this Streamline Moderne beauty.” Rooms are cozy, and guests are especially fond of the outdoor hot tub. This location offers up the most affordable lodging on this map.

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Lodge at the Presidio

This newly renovated hotel, billed as the closest lodging in the city to the Golden Gate Bridge, is the sister property of the Inn at the Presidio. The three-story, 42-room hotel occupies one of the five identical barracks built between 1895-97 by the U.S. Army to accommodate six artillery companies, a calvary troop, and two infantry companies. It’s also one of 470 structures in the Presidio on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Hotel Del Sol

This hotel was built as a motor lodge in the mid 1950s and was fully renovated in 2013. The main attraction is the hotel’s inner courtyard, which features an outdoor heated pool. Though swimming is what attracts many of the hotel’s visitors, additional perks include palm trees with hammocks.

Bonus: Hotel Del Sol is one of 10 hotels certified by the SF Green Business Program.

A post shared by Hotel Del Sol (@hoteldelsol) on

Inn at the Presidio

This is the place to stay if you want to escape the city without having to actually leave the city. It’s located at Pershing Hall in the heart of the Presidio, and used to house unmarried U.S. Army officers. Built in 1903, the Georgian Revival-style building emerged from a historic rehabilitation in 2011.

Hotel Vitale

Hotel Vitale is known for its swankiness and its luxurious amenities. Highlights include Spa Vitale’s outdoor soaking tubs, and culinary delights at Americano, the hotel’s restaurant and lounge. Of special note: the upstairs spa and pawesome pets policy. (Yes, dogs are allowed.)

A post shared by Hotel Vitale (@hotelvitale) on

Fairmont San Francisco

Built in 1907, the hotel underwent an $85,000,000 restoration to return it to its original turn-of-the-century glory. Fun facts: Tony Bennett first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in the Venetian Room; the $18,000 per night penthouse suite is the most expensive in the city; and delegates from countries around the world met in the historic Garden Room in 1945 to draft the charter for the United Nations.

Hotel Drisco

While most rooms offer up sweeping views of San Francisco, guests often go all out and opt for one of the “city view” suites. Hotel Drisco has a great reputation, which is further proven by its loyal guests and by employees who have been with the hotel for many, many years. Be sure to check out the pillow menu.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

For well-heeled families and business travelers, this hotel should top your list if luxury and amenities galore are a requirement. (The hotel’s Pampered Pooch suite is a must for any extravagant dog owners.) The hotel, which opened in 1991, is housed in a 140-year-old building in Nob Hill. If money’s not a problem, stay in the Club Level on the top two floors. It grants guests access to a 24-hour concierge as well as a social area stocked with fresh food and drinks for the taking.

InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

This hotel has stood the test of time and continues to be one of San Francisco’s greatest destinations. The 19-story hotel’s architecture is a combination of French chateau and Spanish Renaissance. Built and named after one of the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad, the hotel was built after Mark Hopkins’ jaw-dropping mansion was destroyed in the three-day fire that followed the 1906 earthquake.

Be sure to visit the Top of the Mark bar, where epic views of the entire city can be seen from nearly every seat.

The Scarlet Huntington

The Georgian-style brick building atop Nob Hill features 135 guest rooms and suites. The entire hotel was renovated in 2015. Highlights here include the Nob Hill Spa and the Big Four restaurant. This hotel is often used by locals for vacationing inside the city. One of San Francisco’s finest.

Sir Francis Drake Hotel

This beautifully restored landmark boutique hotel is half a block from Union Square and steps from Chinatown. Be sure to spend your evening partying at the legendary Starlight Room, which is a 1930s-style nightclub on the 21st floor.

A post shared by Mickey Nassrin (@mickeynassrin) on

Palace Hotel

This grand dame is one of San Francisco’s most iconic hotels, where visitors can sip afternoon tea while gazing up at the Garden Court’s stained-glass dome or take a tour of the property. This Beaux-Arts gem is rich with history and is consistently ranked among the top luxury hotels in the world. (Even if Tony-winning Broadway star Patti LuPone disagrees.)

Originally built in 1875, the hotel was destroyed in a fire following the 1906 earthquake. Palace Hotel opened on December 19, 1909.

The hotel has played host to numerous historic events, including President Woodrow Wilson’s speech in the Garden Court in support of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding died while in office at the Palace Hotel, in #8064, an eighth floor room that overlooks Market Street.

The Laurel Inn

The exterior of the Laurel Inn in San Francisco. The facade is white with multiple windows. Photo courtesy of Joie de Vivre Hotels’ The Laurel Inn

Honoring its 1950s design heritage while adding a contemporary vibe, this unabashedly midcentury boutique hotel unveiled its much-needed renovation earlier in 2017. They also have a great pro-pets policy, making their Instagram tag a must-see.

The exterior of the Laurel Inn in San Francisco. The facade is white with multiple windows. Photo courtesy of Joie de Vivre Hotels’ The Laurel Inn

Hotel Adagio

This revamped boutique hotel pairs historic details with contemporary design, and features the largest hotel rooms downtown. Of special note: the penthouse suite, which features a deck big enough for small parties.

Moody. #HotelAdagio #Tenderloin #SanFrancisco #SF

A post shared by John Riddle (@johnriddle) on

The Clift

Clift’s the go-to spot for the design-oriented young and posh set, especially since the interiors are designed by the world-famous Philippe Starck. With highlights like the very glamorous Redwood Room and frequent celebrity spottings, this is the place to be if your scene is being seen.

Note: The oversized Alice in Wonderland-themed chair has become an Instagram must for visitors.

A post shared by The Clift (@theclift) on

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco

A room at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. There is a couch, tables, chairs, windows, and works of art on the walls. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons

Similar to the nearby St. Regis, this five-star hotel is a mix of lodgings and residences. What sets this hotel apart is a second-floor check-in with one of the most relaxing lobbies in town. Also of note, this place isn’t just for business travelers or major league teams visiting from out of town. The rooms are ideal for locals looking to get away for a spell, with some of the best views in town. Amenities include spa, fitness center, bar, and restaurant.

A room at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. There is a couch, tables, chairs, windows, and works of art on the walls. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons

The St. Regis San Francisco

The Museum of the African Diaspora is located within the five-star hotel, and SFMOMA is right next door. An appointment at Remède Spa should be required, as should a round of cocktails inside the stunning hotel lobby bar. The fitness center has private yoga and Pilates studios as well as a heated indoor lap pool.

W San Francisco

The place where locals and tourists alike come to play, the W San Francisco is the perfect place if you’re looking to party while having every need met—no matter how ridiculous. The hotel regularly attracts a healthy mix of young tech folk and out-of-towners looking to get wild at the hotel bar, with plenty of time spent in its state-of-the-art gym called FIT.

Design geeks should note that San Francisco star designer Stanley Saitowitz designed the lobby and restaurant.

Hotel Zetta San Francisco

This 116-room hotel opened in 2013, and it’s quickly become the go-to spot for vacationers looking to party in style and posh locals who want to spend an evening dining at the adjacent Cavalier. Don’t miss out on the Plinko-inspired ball game in the lobby.

A post shared by Matthew Lawson (@mjslawson) on

Phoenix Hotel

The Phoenix Hotel is a riff on a classic 1950s beach motel. The main attraction is the courtyard, which features an azure-blue-tiled pool and sculpture garden. Not surprisingly, it was named one of America’s coolest hipster hotels in 2012.

Proper Hotel

Design fans will want to check in a Proper Hotel, a 131-room hotel conceived by Los Angeles-based Kelly Wearstler. A mic of contemporary and midcentury looks make up the Tenderloin flatiron building. The rooftop lounge, Charmaine’s, is where locals and visitors alike gather to take in the view and see the action below on Market Street.

Ocean Park Motel

Ocean Park Motel in the Outer Parkside was built in 1936 and looks every bit the part. The motel was honored by the Art Deco Society of California in 1987 for “preservation of this Streamline Moderne beauty.” Rooms are cozy, and guests are especially fond of the outdoor hot tub. This location offers up the most affordable lodging on this map.

A post shared by samthepit (@samthepit) on