Where should we stay? With hundreds of San Francisco hotels, it may seem like a daunting question. But fret not—our expert writers and editors have done most of the legwork. The selections here represent the best this city has to offer—from the best budget motels to the sleekest designer hotels. Happy hunting!
Reservations are always advised, especially during the peak seasons—August through November, weekends in December, and celebrations like gay pride, Mother's Day, and Chinese New Year. From July through September 2013, the city is hosting the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup Finals boat races and related events; hotels are likely to be heavily booked during this period. The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau publishes a free lodging guide with a map and listings of San Francisco and Bay Area hotels. You can reserve a room, by phone or via the Internet, at more than 60 Bureau-recommended hotels. San Francisco Reservations can arrange reservations at more than 200 Bay Area hotels, often at discounted rates.
San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau (San Francisco, CA. 415/391–2000 general information; 415/283–0177; 888/782–9673 lodging service. www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com.)
San Francisco Reservations (San Francisco, CA. 800/677–1500. www.hotelres.com.)
Bed & Breakfast San Francisco (San Francisco, CA. 415/899–0060. www.bbsf.com.)
When pricing accommodations, always ask what facilities are included and what entails an additional charge. All the hotels listed have private baths, central heating, and private phones unless otherwise noted. Many places don't have air-conditioning, but you probably won't need it. Even in September and October, when the city sees its warmest days, the temperature rarely climbs above 70°F.
Many hotels now have wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) available, although it's not always free. Larger hotels often have video or high-speed checkout capability, and many can arrange babysitting. Pools are a rarity, but most large properties have gyms or health clubs, and sometimes full-scale spas; hotels without facilities usually have arrangements for guests at nearby gyms, sometimes for a fee. At the end of each review, we state whether any meals are included in the room rate.
Several properties on Lombard Street and in the Civic Center area have free parking (but not always in a covered garage). Hotels in the Union Square and Nob Hill areas almost invariably charge $25 to $50-plus per day for a spot in their garages; note that if you are renting a car many hotels charge extra fees for SUVs. Occasionally hotel package deals include parking. Some B&Bs have limited free parking available, but many don't, and require you to park on the street. Depending on the neighborhood and the time, this can be easy or quite difficult, so ask for realistic parking information when you call. Some hotels with paid parking offer a choice of valet parking with unlimited in-out privileges or self-parking (where the fee is less expensive and there's no tipping).
San Francisco has gone to great lengths to attract family vacationers, and hotels have followed the family-friendly trend. Some properties provide diversions like in-room video games, suites with kitchenettes and fold-out sofa beds; some, like Hotel Diva, have even decked out special kids' suites with toys, games, and karaoke machines. Most full-service San Francisco hotels provide roll-away beds, babysitting, and stroller rentals, but be sure to make arrangements when booking the room, not when you arrive.
San Francisco hotel prices, among the highest in the United States, may come as an unpleasant surprise. But as at most hotels, prices are starting to soften. Weekend rates for double rooms in high season average about $200 a night citywide. Rates may vary widely according to room availability; always inquire about special rates and packages when making reservations; call the property directly, but also check its website and try Internet booking agencies. The lodgings we list are the cream of the crop in each price category.