San Francisco is a great city in which to stay overnight. Every reputable hotel brand is represented here, so travelers get to pick where to be pampered. Plus, many of San Francisco’s best hotels pack a major historical punch.
The Best Hotels in San Francisco
Read on to learn about the city’s best hotels and luxurious legacy properties.
Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
Mentioned on virtually every list of the best hotels in San Francisco, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins opened in 1926, on the site of the former 40-room mansion of Mark Hopkins—the San Francisco baron who founded the Southern Pacific Railroad. These days, the place’s heritage is just as classic and refined. Its coveted Nob Hill perch provides for incredible views over the city and beyond. The grand historic charm remains, but it’s all updated with modern style and high-tech features.
Conveniently, it’s just across from magnificent Grace Cathedral and within manageable walking distance from key attractions like North Beach, Chinatown, and major city museums. The cherry on top is the swanky Top of the Mark, a restaurant and bar on the hotel’s 19th floor with stunning 360-degree views, gleaming wood, live music and dancing, and a truly impressive cocktail list.
Amenities: Amazing city views from every room, a pillow menu, fine linens, Agraria toiletries, plush bathrobes and slippers, in-room Keurig coffee maker, excellent concierge service, complimentary weekday town car service, and a fitness center.
Fairmont San Francisco
The Fairmont San Francisco is legendary—not just for its place in history as being where the United Nations charter was drafted in 1945, but also for its Beaux Arts-style architecture and for being where Tony Bennett first crooned “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” As luxury hotels in San Francisco go, the Fairmont is darn near the top, both in terms of ranking and location.
High on Nob Hill, this timeless hotel was built in 1907 (though in 1961 a more modern 23-story tower was added) and proffers excellent service, luxurious guestrooms and public spaces, and a recent $85 million restoration to preserve its old-world charm. The cable car lines meet right here, so you can take them to see all the sights.
Amenities: Le Labo toiletries, 42-inch LED TV, free high-speed internet, in-room media connectivity panel, fitness center, wellness spa, 24-hour business center, excellent concierge service, exclusive penthouse-level Gold Floor services, famous gingerbread house in the lobby during the holiday season, and three restaurants including the whimsical Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar, which serves up mai tais and fake thunderstorms on the hour.
Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
Hands down one of the best hotels in San Francisco, the Ritz-Carlton delivers on its name’s high expectations and long-standing reputation for top service. Luxury abounds, as does personal attention from staffers. The hotel occupies a sophisticated 1901 landmark building atop Nob Hill, and it’s filled with all things elegant and refined, including the Parallel 37 restaurant, which serves upscale California cuisine with global touches.
If you’re up for a splurge, the Ritz-Carlton has the city’s largest full-service club level, with elaborate food spreads, all the beverages you want, and special tastings from local wineries. Otherwise, try the afternoon tea in the lounge or get a treatment at the Mediterranean-style L’Occitane spa.
Amenities: Frette linens, pillow-top mattresses, 55-inch TVs, marble bathrooms, and a dedicated concierge; club lounge amenities include complimentary breakfast, lunchtime hors d’oeuvres, dessert, wine, and beer. On weekends, there’s caviar tasting.
St. Regis San Francisco
This luxury hotel in San Francisco’s hip SoMa district is as modern and happening as its neighborhood. It’s adjacent to the newly redone SFMOMA, and the Museum of the African Diaspora is within the hotel itself. The Jewish Contemporary Museum is less than a block away, and it’s an easy stroll to the Moscone convention center, as well as the city’s famous cable cars.
Inside, decor is contemporary and sophisticated, with amazing views over the city. Service is elegant, and the St. Regis butlers are known citywide for their expert hospitality.
Amenities: Deep soaking tubs, in-bathroom TVs, stone shower with rainfall shower head, CD/DVD player, 55-inch plasma TV, complimentary French press coffee or tea served by butlers upon arrival and every morning, 9,000-square-foot Remede Spa, relaxation lounges with handmade truffles and champagne, an infinity pool overlooking the city, daily afternoon tea service, and the contemporary Grill restaurant.
Four Seasons San Francisco
Many of the luxury hotels in San Francisco have been treated to recent renovations, and the Four Seasons is no exception. Its refresh makes for a chic, contemporary five-star hotel featuring the Four Seasons’ signature warm hospitality and intuitive service. Decor is modern and innovative; the art collection alone is worth a visit.
From here, guests explore downtown easily, especially Yerba Buena Gardens and Union Square, both of which are within quick walking distance. Guestrooms feature floor-to ceiling windows from whence to take it all in, and if you reserve between the 11th to 17th floors, you’ll get truly panoramic views over the heart of downtown.
Amenities: Large marble bathroom with deep soaking tub, thick terry bathrobes, down duvets and pillows, large flat screen HDTV, dressing area, spa treatments, 127,000-square-foot Equinox Sports Club overlooking Market Street, and the popular fifth-floor MKT Restaurant.
Westin St. Francis
The Westin St. Francis is one of the best hotels in San Francisco, in one of the very best locations in San Francisco: the heart of Union Square. Truly in the center of it all, guests staying at this luxurious property step right outside to cable cars dinging by, the city’s best theaters, Michelin-starred restaurants, and dozens of shops featuring the world’s most prestigious brands.
Built in 1904 with the intention of helping transform San Francisco into “the Paris on the West,” this Westin has been a bona fide Northern California landmark ever since.
Amenities: Westin Heavenly bed, 250-thread-count bed linens, Westin brand toiletries, Enseo smart TVs, deluxe rooms with contemporary art and furniture, some rooms with city views, the Westin Workout Fitness Studio, Clock Bar, Caruso’s restaurant, and the historic Oak Room restaurant.
Intercontinental San Francisco
In contrast with its sister property, the more historic Intercontinental Mark Hopkins up on Nob Hill, this newer Intercontinental is one of the many luxury hotels in downtown San Francisco. However, it stands out for many reasons—not least of all its towering, gleaming skyscraper appearance. These 32 modernized floors are LEED certified, which means they’re as eco-friendly as hotels come.
Service is super personalized, and guest rooms, which exude modern luxury and comfort, are blessed with plenty of natural light and plush interiors in soothing neutral tones. Book from the 25th to the 30th floor to get unforgettable views all the way over the hills to the bay.
Amenities: High-quality beds and linens, plush robes, LCD TVs, floor-to-ceiling windows, in-room coffee makers, iPod docking stations, a club floor option, 24-hour room service, fitness center, 10-room spa, indoor lap pool, a romance package option including a rose-petal bath, the lobby-level Bar 888 (with 100 kinds of grappa), and chef Daniel Corey’s inimitable Michelin-starred Luce restaurant, serving a nine-course tasting menu of fine Italian cuisine.
Although the Argonaut, one of the best hotels in San Francisco, was recently renovated, it retains its original 1907 exposed-brick structure—as well as its pervasive and charming nautical theme, and its elevated level of service. At once whimsical and homey, the Argonaut occupies a picture-perfect location in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf. Ask for a room with a view and you’ll be treated to windows right over the bay.
Amenities: Luxury bath products, comfort beds, Eames-style chair and workstation, valet parking, six “tall rooms” with extra long beds and raised shower heads, loaner bikes, fitness center, spa treatments using natural ingredients, and the Blue Mermaid Restaurant.
Loews Regency San Francisco
The Loews Regency isn’t just one of the best hotels in San Francisco—it’s also the very tallest. It opened in 2015 to occupy the top 11 floors of a 48-story skyscraper, making for spectacular views from every room. In fact, the Bridge to Bridge Terrace Suite encompasses 2,000 square feet of unobstructed views from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge.
But even if you stay in one of the Loews’ more standard abodes, you’ll enjoy the hotel’s elegant service, contemporary style, and calming decor, plus a central Financial District location that makes it easy to get almost anywhere in the city quickly.
Amenities: Frette bed linens, Julien Farel toiletries, 47-inch flat-screen TV, 24-hour room service, full-service spa, yoga classes on the 40th-floor skydeck, complimentary car service within one mile, a “wrinkle-free travel program,” chef-guided tours of the Ferry Building farmers’ market, the Brasserie S&P restaurant and bar, plus a rooftop bar on the 40th floor.
Arguably the grand dame of San Francisco hotels, the Palace Hotel was originally built in 1875. After it was mostly destroyed by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1909, definitively setting the standard for luxury hotels in San Francisco. The interiors here are nothing short of extraordinary, from the lobby’s imperially high ceilings to the Pied Piper bar’s warm oak walls and artworks of significance.
But the hotel’s crown jewel, no one will contest, is its Garden Court restaurant, which looks like it’s right out of an elaborate dream: Its dome is made from 72,000 pieces of iridescent stained glass, and dazzles with chandeliers made from Austrian crystal. The guest rooms are opulent, too, though more contemporary, done in plum and gray tones with high windows and touches of marble. The hotel’s palatial indoor pool (perfect for SF’s unpredictable weather) looks out onto the skyline, and every staffer here is generously attentive.
Amenities: Pillow-top canopy beds, luxurious linens, marble baths, rain showerheads, 48-inch LED TV, many specialty suites available, indoor heated swimming pool, 24-hour fitness center, business center, complimentary coffee in the lobby, dry cleaning and laundry service, childcare services, complimentary shoe shine, currency exchange and translation services, the legendary Garden Court restaurant, and the Pied Piper Bar & Grill.
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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.
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