Some people think San Francisco makes no sense and is weird. Yes, San Francisco can be hard to explain, especially to someone who’s never visited. To understand it, you have to get to know it, from the inside out.
San Francisco has been at the center of many moments in history and each has left its permanent mark. The City, as it is affectionately known to locals, doesn’t erase its past, it incorporates it into its future, drawing creatives, artists, and risk takers along for the ride.
Listed below are 10 boutique hotels in San Francisco that demonstrate the authenticity of The City and how it rebuilds and reinvents itself. From Gold Rush to tech boom, beatniks to bohemians, and earthquake (1906) to earthquake (1989), San Francisco is continually rising from the rubble.
Harbor Court Hotel
Built in 1926, this one-time Army-Navy residence now boasts an edgy urban vibe that reflects the sophisticated independence of San Francisco and its tech community. The pet-friendly Harbor Court Hotel is located on the waterfront in the financial district and offers unobstructed views of the San Francisco Bay and Bay Bridge, daily donuts, and nightly wine and beer hour.
Dine with the locals on world-class Japanese cuisine at Ozumo, and be sure to sample sake off one of the largest sake lists in North America.
1 Hotel San Francisco
Also located on the waterfront in the financial district, 1 Hotel San Francisco has sustainability at its core. A stay here will get you back in tune with nature and the universe. Every detail focuses on wellbeing, including the raw wood décor to free the mind, Terrene farm-to-table eatery to nourish the body, and Bamford Wellness Spa for soothe the soul.
Transport yourself back to 1950’s North Beach, San Francisco’s Italian District, with a stay at Hotel Bohème. Infused with the souls of the “Beat Generation,” its 15 literary inspired rooms include the Ginsberg and the Kerouac, and its hallways are lined with black and white photos taken in 50s and 60s North Beach.
Mingle with the locals at the surrounding café’s or have picnic at Washington Park near the famous Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Stop back by the hotel for an afternoon glass of sherry and round out an day with dinner at The Stinking Rose restaurant a few steps away.
San Remo Hotel
Built by the founder of Bank of America, A.P. Giannini, this 62-room hotel has been a sanctuary to many, including transient labor that helped rebuild the city after 1906 and more recently, victims of the 1989 earthquake.
Each individually decorated room has WiFi, but no phones or TVs. Based on the European style, bathrooms are shared and some rooms have private sinks. On the ground floor serving Northern Italian food is Fior d’Italia. It’s America’s oldest Italian restaurant, established in 1886.
Family friendly and pet friendly, Hotel Zephyr has both an outdoor yard and indoor game room. The 8000 square-foot yard has fire pits, ping pong, and a giant Connect 4. Other amenities include S’mores kits, high-speed Wi-Fi, in-room safe, and high thread count linens.
This San Francisco boutique hotel’s “ship-yard chic” style is showcased in its use of recycled cargo containers and up-cycled nautical goods and pairs well with the urban side of Fisherman’s Wharf. Just a three-minute walk to Pier 41, you won’t be short on things to do.
The iconic Argonaut Hotel is located within Fisherman’s Wharf historic Haslett Warehouse building, built in 1907. Exposed brink and Douglas Fir beams are the foundation of this nautical themed boutique hotel in San Francisco. Pet friendly and fantastic for couples and families alike, the Argonaut Hotel includes 2-hour bicycle rentals, room service, and a common room with board games and fireplace.
The Blue Mermaid Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and serves award-winning chowders. For dessert, head around the corner for a cup of world famous San Francisco Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Café or an ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli Square.
The Presidio at the Golden Gate was designated a national park in 1994 after serving as a military post for over 200 years. Presidio Lodging offers two boutique hotels, Inn at the Presidio and Lodge at the Presidio.
These renovated military accommodations are located at the Golden Gate, within the Presidio National Park. Inn at the Presidio is housed within Pershing Hall, which was built in 1903 for bachelor officers. Lodge at the Presidio is a boutique hotel on the Main Post, inside the Montgomery Street Barracks that were built between 1895-1897 by the US Army.
Petite Auberge Hotel
Located in Lower Nob Hill, Petite Auberge’s 26 rooms are a respite from the stress of daily life. Part bed and breakfast and part boutique hotel, the French inspired décor welcomes you home after a long day. Amenities include in-room robes and fireplaces, as well as complimentary breakfast and evening wine and hors d’oeuvres.
For those planning an event, the property is also available for a private buyout and can host 10 to 40 people with indoor and outdoor public spaces and catering.
Stanyan Park Hotel
The Stanyan Park Hotel is a thoroughly restored Victorian beauty listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This 36-room boutique hotel in San Francisco combines modern indulgences with Victorian charm. Enjoy an expanded continental breakfast, wine and cheese on weekday evenings, and a tea service every night.
It is located in the Haight Ashbury district, across from Golden Gate Park allowing for many distinct experiences. Venture into the park to find the DeYoung Museum, Academy of Sciences, and Japanese Tea Garden. Wander the streets of Haight and Ashbury to experience what was once the center of 1960s Bohemian culture.
Hotel Del Sol
You can’t help but smile when you see Hotel Del Sol, a colorful 1950’s motor lodge. Less than a mile from Fort Mason, at the edge of the Marina District, this property welcomes families and pets.
Relax in a hammock under palm trees, play in the heated pool, or take a short walk to the waterfront. Amenities include complimentary Grab-‘n’-Go continental breakfast box, inexpensive on-site parking, Wi-Fi, iPod docs, and designer toiletries.
Vesna Kraushaar is a science and food writer in the SF Bay Area with years of experience as a scientist in the local wine and dairy industries. Her Croatian and American heritage instilled a deep passion for sharing food traditions. When she isn’t writing, she’s researching recipes or at a local coffee house. Find her online here.