Hotels

Daniel Sogg

San Francisco's dizzying array of hotels make deciding where to stay a challenge. How do you choose, for example, between jaw-dropping views of the bay from a soaring high-rise and the gilded splendor of a Victorian mansion built with Gold Rush riches? Since the city is crammed with diverse neighborhoods, each with its own feel, choosing the right hotel might come down to selecting the area that best suits your travel plans. Kick off your search by browsing our recommended places.

Fairmont San Francisco
950 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
Telephone: (415) 772-5000; (866) 540-4491
Fax: (415) 772-5013
Website: www.fairmont.com/sanfrancisco

Rooms: 529
Suites: 62
Rates: $269 to $15,000
Services: Babysitting, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Pet Services, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Fitness Center, Sauna, Spa Services

The grandeur of turn-of-the-century San Francisco is captured at this Nob Hill hotel, which has hosted most of the American presidents since William Howard Taft. Elements of the original 1907 design have been lovingly preserved, from the formidable terra-cotta facade to the expansive lobby, replete with massive, gold-trimmed Corinthian columns. Guests can stay in the original eight-story structure or the newer 24-story tower, which offers arresting views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. For a taste of classic San Francisco kitsch, visit the Fairmont's Tonga Room, which has been serving mai tais and pupu platters since 1945. To dine in refined surroundings, try Laurel Court, with its triple-domed interior and mosaic marble floor.

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
757 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Telephone: (415) 633-3000; (800) 819-5053
Fax: (415) 633-3009
Website: www.fourseasons.com/sanfrancisco

Rooms: 231
Suites: 46
Rates: $395 to $9,000
Services: Babysitting, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Gift Shop, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Pet Services, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Sauna, Spa, Steam Room

The opulent 24-karat, gold leaf ceiling in the lobby and the gleaming Brazilian cherry wood floor of the bar are just a few of the exquisite touches that make this hotel stand out. Rooms are sophisticated, uniformly bright and offer at least 460 square feet of space, and guests can order room service at any hour of the day or night. Staying here also affords complimentary access to the ultramodern LA Sports Club on the fourth floor, which includes weight and cardio equipment, a basketball court and a swimming pool. Although the Market Street location does not match the splendor of this Four Seasons' hotel, Union Square is only two blocks away.

Grand Hyatt San Francisco
345 Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
Telephone: (415) 398-1234; (800) 233-1234
Fax: (415) 391-1780
Website: www.grandsanfrancisco.hyatt.com

Rooms: 655
Suites: 30
Rates: $139 to $1,400
Services: Babysitting, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center

Sure, rooms are conveniently stocked: Guests can watch their favorite shows on color TVs while soaking in the tub, and there's high-speed Internet access, dual phone lines and morning newspaper delivery. But the real draw is the hotel's Union Square location, which is just steps away from the Financial District, Chinatown, theaters and designer shops. For the best view of the city, have a drink at the hotel's aptly named Grandviews Restaurant, on the 36th floor.

Hotel Diva
440 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 885-0200; (800) 553-1900
Fax: (415) 346-6613
Website: www.hoteldiva.com

Rooms: 112
Suites: 4
Rates: $189 to $399
Services: Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Parking
Amenities: Fitness Center

As its name suggests, this Union Square hotel is hip and edgy. In the lobby, movies starring modern and historic divas (from Madonna to Judy Garland) play on large flat-screen TVs and lounge music pulsates in the background. Sleek and surprisingly spacious rooms have royal-blue carpeting, steel headboards, Pablo lighting, wire-mesh chairs and iPod alarm clocks. New lounges on four floors offer iMacs and PCs with free wireless Internet access, and the adjacent Colibri Mexican Bistro will deliver eats right to your room.

Hotel Monaco San Francisco
501 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 292-0100; (866) 622-5284
Fax: (415) 292-0111
Website: www.monaco-sf.com

Rooms: 201
Suites: 32
Rates: $189 to $629
Services: Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Parking, Pet Friendly, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Fitness Center, Jacuzzi, Sauna, Spa

The interior of this hotel is a blend of whimsy and opulence designed with the theme of world travel in mind. The 25-foot-high vaulted ceilings in the living room have murals of biplanes and balloons in a summery blue sky, and original artwork from around the world (like African masks) decks the walls. Canopy beds grace some of the rooms, which have a busy, rather nervous energy. Don't miss the afternoon wine reception where you can meet with a tarot card reader and get a free shoulder and neck massage. Pets are welcome, and anyone longing for (legal) companionship can request a goldfish for their room.

Hotel Palomar San Francisco
12 Fourth St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Telephone: (415) 348-1111; (866) 373-4941
Fax: (415) 348-0302
Website: www.hotelpalomar-sf.com

Rooms: 186
Suites: 16
Rates: $169 to $359
Services: Babysitting, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Pet Friendly, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Fitness Center

You'll feel an impulse to tread gingerly in the Palomar's lobby—the trompe l'oeil geometric pattern of the parquet floor is that convincing. But you won't feel like tip-toeing for long: The hotel's 1930s-inspired sophistication is instantly welcoming. Cheryl Rowley has given the rooms a fashionable new look, with a warm persimmon color palette and textured alligator-print carpet. Guests are pampered with in-room spa treatments, and a pet concierge indulges canine companions with walks and trips to nearby parks. Dine at least one night at the hotel's much-buzzed-about Fifth Floor restaurant, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner.

Hotel Vitale
8 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: (415) 278-3700; (888) 890-8688
Fax: (415) 278-3730
Website: www.hotelvitale.com

Rooms: 192
Suites: 8
Rates: $399 to $2,000
Services: Babysitting, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Pet Services, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Spa

Sophistication and youthful energy might sound like an unlikely couple, but the marriage comes off gracefully at this waterfront hotel. The decor is modern but relaxed, and the lobby and rooms share a calm, earthy palette, with beige and limestone tones accented by sea blue. Request one of the circular suites for their oversize soaking tubs, walk-in showers with rainforest showerheads and panoramic views of the Bay Bridge and beyond. The spa is an oasis of serenity in bustling San Francisco, with three treatment rooms and two private outdoor soaking tubs, each nestled in a grove of bamboo.

Hyatt Regency San Francisco
5 Embarcadero Ctr.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Telephone: (415) 788-1234; (800) 233-1234
Fax: (415) 398-2567
Website: www.sanfranciscoregency.hyatt.com

Rooms: 757
Suites: 45
Rates: $229 to $359
Services: Babysitting, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Pet Friendly, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center

The Hyatt's massive atrium, shaped roughly like an isosceles triangle, could possibly be the largest lobby in the world. Even the 40-foot spherical sculpture, made from four tons of aluminum piping, seems a bit undersized on this stage. But despite the somewhat overwhelming scale of the lobby, the hotel feels comfortable and conveniences abound: It's within one block of most types of public transportation, and near Embarcadero Center shops. Rooms are modestly priced and spacious, with relaxing beige, taupe and cream tones and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the bay or city. For the best lookout point, have a drink at the Regency Club, the hotel's lounge on the 16th and 17th floors.

Palace Hotel San Francisco
2 New Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: (415) 512-1111; (888) 627-7196
Fax: (415) 543-0671
Website: www.sfpalace.com

Rooms: 500
Suites: 53
Rates: $379 to $4,400
Services: Babysitting, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Pet Services, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Jacuzzi, Pool, Sauna

One has to wonder about the Maxfield Parrish mural in the hotel's bar. Commissioned for the 1909 hotel reopening, the painting depicts the Pied Piper of Hamelin luring away the children of the deceitful villagers. Surely, after the 1906 earthquake and the ensuing fire that ravaged the interior of the 1875 structure, the hotel proprietors had to feel that they, like the people of Hamelin, had paid all karmic debts with interest. Whatever the artist's intent, the striking mural suits this elegant historic hotel. At day's end, guests can unwind in the sky-lit, indoor pool before retiring to rooms ranging from cozy to over-the-top opulent. Don't miss Sunday brunch, served in the Garden Court, a striking area with soaring 50-foot, stained-glass and lead latticework ceilings.

Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
600 Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
Telephone: (415) 296-7465; (800) 241-3333
Fax: (415) 291-0288
Website: www.ritzcarlton.com

Rooms: 274
Suites: 62
Rates: $329 to $8,000
Services: Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Fitness Center, Pool, Spa

High atop Nob Hill, this imposing nine-story Neoclassical structure was built in 1909 to house the headquarters of Metropolitan Life Insurance then converted into a Ritz Carlton in 1991. Expect affable, attentive service: There are 500 employees for the hotel's 336 rooms and suites. The decor is refined, and a $12.6 million renovation in 2006 added flat-screen TVs, 400-thread-count sheets, laptop safes and high-speed wireless Internet access to the rooms. Guests can dine in the elegant Dining Room, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner, the Lobby Lounge or Ritz Bar.

San Francisco Clift
496 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 775-4700; (800) 606-6090
Fax: (415) 441-4621
Website: www.clifthotel.com

Rooms: 346
Suites: 26
Rates: $285 to $2,500
Services: Babysitting, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry Parking, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center

As you enter the lobby, it's impossible not to notice the mélange of cutting-edge contemporary and retro decor, from the sofa crafted of ostrich skin and ox horns to the bronze Salvador Dalí–designed table. Before creating the guest rooms, designers Phillipe Starck and Ian Schrager took a road trip through the city for inspiration, and the colors they chose are classic San Francisco—lavender from the painted ladies, gray symbolizing fog and orange representing the Golden Gate Bridge. English sycamore sleigh beds with 400-thread-count linens add the finishing touch. Don't leave without visiting the hotel's Redwood Room bar: The inlaid redwood paneling, dim lights shaped like inverted ziggurats and an etched-glass bar create a mood of dreamlike intimacy that takes cocktail hour to a whole new level.

St. Regis Hotel San Francisco
125 Third St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Telephone: (415) 284-4000; (877) 787-3447
Fax: (415) 284-4100
Website: www.stregis.com/sanfrancisco

Rooms: 214
Suites: 46
Rates: $649 to $10,000
Services: Babysitting, Children's Programs, Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry Parking, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Fitness Center, Pool, Sauna, Spa

If you're anticipating a West Coast redux of Manhattan's Beaux Arts classic, think again. San Francisco's St. Regis is decidedly contemporary, with sleek decor suited to its South of Market location, and a convenient spa, 50-foot lap pool and fitness center. Though the lobby and bar-lounge are striking with their cream-colored travertine marble and dark zebrano wood floors, it's the spacious rooms (each a minimum of 450 square feet) that really stand out for their warmth and expertly crafted decor. Soothing tones of beige, cream and taupe dominate, with stitched, cappuccino-colored leather adorning the walls of the foyers. A digital assistant controls the shades, adjusts the temperature and summons either the butler or concierge.

W Hotel San Francisco
181 Third St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Telephone: (415) 777-5300
Fax: (415) 817-7823
Website: www.whotels.com/sanfrancisco

Rooms: 398
Suites: 6
Rates: $229 to $429
Services: Concierge, Dry Cleaning, Internet Access, Laundry, Parking, Pet Services, Restaurant/Bar, Room Service
Amenities: Fitness Center, Pool, Spa

Edgy and cool, this W Hotel has a slick flair that's complemented by its South of Market location, just steps from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. All of the rooms integrate contemporary design with cozy touches such as plush down comforters, feather beds and 350-thread-count Italian linen sheets. Every detail here—from the light blue interior of the elevators to the chic Bar at XYZ on the second floor (with its acorn-colored mohair banquettes)—seems calculated to make patrons feel hip, clever and sexy. And, for the most part, it works.

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