Remember back in the day how you felt like jumping on the bed with joy when you scored a hotel room with cable TV? Back then, it was the simple things that could completely transform your hotel experience.
Well nowadays, things aren’t so simple. In fact, they’re extravagant, grandiose, and totally over the top—in all the best ways. The hotels in San Francisco, in particular, bring the lodging experience to a whole new level with museum-worthy art installations, lounges serving caviar, and oasis-like spas. Between the swanky nightclubs that make you feel like you slipped through the VIP line and the restaurants where Wolfgang Puck might as well be in the kitchen, these hotels will have you wondering if you’re still on the hotel premises.
Rest easy though, you’re in the right place. The coolest San Francisco hotels are simply stepping up their game, and we’ve got a list of some of the most head-turning places in town. Through savvy research and user reviews, we landed on a list of accommodations (in no particular order) with ritzy and funky features that will make you say, “I can’t believe this is a hotel!”
Palace Hotel, Financial District
Calling all shopaholics, you can get your shopping fix without even leaving the Palace Hotel grounds. At street level, you’ll find high-end fashion and artisan jewelry at the on-site retail shops. Get the scoop at Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, where you can douse your ice cream cone with homemade fudge, and then find the perfect frames at SEE, the designer eyewear boutique.
Hotel Triton, Union Square
Who needs SFMOMA when you’ve got the art exhibits at Hotel Triton? From the words of Jack Kerouac scribbled on the walls to the local masterpieces in the Mezzanine Gallery and Living Room, you’ll surely get your artistic fill at this boho hotel near Belden Place. Currently, the John Held, Jr. and Global Art Project are spicing up the walls in celebration of Dada’s 100th anniversary. And if something catches your eye, you can purchase it to adorn your own walls at home.
Omni San Francisco Hotel, Financial District
Some of the best prime beef you’ll ever taste is sizzling just downstairs from your hotel room at the Omni. Located in downtown San Francisco, Bob’s Steak & Chop House is the place to reach your surf and turf quota. Between the juicy jumbo shrimp scampi and the buttery prime filet mignon, your taste buds will have you sticking around for the breakfast and lunch menus, too. And why leave the hotel when you’ve got fried calamari and roasted duck at your fingertips?
W San Francisco Hotel, SoMA
Step into a cosmic realm as you enter W San Francisco. A trippy, mind-bending sculpture towers 27 feet above the hotel lobby. Known as Lumina, the glittery masterpiece is intertwined with 22 miles of fiber optic strands, evoking images of glowing jellyfish floating within outer space. The local SF design studio, MADLAB, crafted the mysterious dome that demands your attention—stand below the magnificent structure and your imagination will transport you to worlds beyond.
Taj Campton Place, Union Square
One bite of the Cali-Indian cuisine at the Campton Place Restaurant and you’ll find yourself begging for another. Who knew a hotel restaurant could evoke such desire? Merging his Indian heritage with those NorCal vibes, Chef Srijith delicately designs three- and six-course meals, which have earned the restaurant a second Michelin star. Dig into the tandoori cauliflower and coastal curry broth, and soon you’ll be sampling the flavors of the historical Spice Route.
Sir Francis Drake, Union Square
A San Francisco vacation calls for a shaken—not stirred—Sleight of Hand with a view of the skyline. At Sir Francis Drake’s Starlight Room, retro glamour meets socialite swag, and million dollar views wow while the dancefloor shimmers. On Sunday mornings though, you’ve got to move over and let the real stars of the show shine. Donna Sachet and her troop of dolled up divas dazzle on stage for their Sunday’s A Drag brunch performance at the hotel’s nightclub.
Hotel Zetta, SoMA
Stepping into Hotel Zetta is like walking into a work of art. Between the chandelier dripping with sunglass lenses and the neoclassical architecture, this hotel creates a unique artistic space that makes you feel like you’re part of a bigger picture. Take time to admire the quirky wall décor inspired by Plinko and then roam among the sculptures for a healthy dose of artwork. It’s here where vintage meets modern, and you can experience it all without even entering an art gallery.
California cuisine is all about incorporating fresh and local ingredients, and Luce nails it. The Michelin star-rated restaurant at the InterContinental hotel brings harvests from San Francisco farms straight to your fork, with dishes like roasted chicken breast with apricots and fennel, and king salmon confit with cantaloupe and cucumber. When you can’t decide on just one dish, sample it all with the chef’s nine-course tasting menu.
Kensington Park Hotel, Union Square
Dive down under at the Farallon Restaurant’s Jellyfish Lounge at the Kensington Park hotel. At this aquatic-themed hotel bar, pull up an octopus stool under a jellyfish chandelier and order some of the ocean’s finest delicacies. Oysters on the half shell, paddlefish caviar, and chilled main lobster are king of the sea at this ritzy joint, but the seared day boat scallops, octopus carpaccio, and smoked sturgeon are epic catches, too.
The Scarlet Huntington, Nob Hill
You can put your feet up at The Scarlet Huntington, but you can really put your feet up at the hotel’s spa, that is, for a pedicure and foot treatment. Enter the oasis that is the Nob Hill Spa, the ultimate retreat for pampering. The eucalyptus steam room will rejuvenate your spirit, while nothing says relaxation like the indoor infinity pool. Tack on a signature massage and chamomile body scrub, and you’ll be feeling that vacation state of mind in no time.
Hotel Nikko, Union Square
Beverly Hills Rent-a-Car at Hotel Nikko places you in the driver’s seat of your fantasy wheels. Whether you’re yearning to rev the engine of a Lamborghini Aventador or feel the bay breeze in your hair from the seat of a Bentley GTC, now’s your chance. The hotel’s rental facility has a drool-inducing fleet of luxury cars and the keys to your fast and furious dreams. While staying at the hotel, take your favorite for a spin, but don’t get a lead foot—speed limits still apply.
Hotel G, Union Square
When you walk into Hotel G, the artwork behind the front desk is bound to attract your attention. But it doesn’t stop there, you’ll find rotating art exhibits in the lobby, while floors 8-12 have their own installations, too. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into one of SF’s hippest art galleries as you browse the masterpieces constructed by members of Creativity Explored, a group of artists with developmental disabilities. See something you can’t live without? All works of art are available for purchase.
The Mosser, Union Square
OK, let’s take it from the top. The Mosser features a full-service recording studio, with all the toys you need for success, from outboard gear to a Pro Tools HD3 Accel System. Whether you’re looking to lay down a few tracks or need a soundproof place for filming, this downtown hotel has you covered. Famous musicians, including Fleet Foxes, Thee Oh Sees, and Josh Ritter have been known to record in the studio, so you never know who you may run into in the hotel hallway.
Phoenix Hotel, Little Saigon
The small bites at Chambers are mmm mm mmm so good. No matter if you’ve already made dinner plans, make time and room in your belly for the eats at Phoenix Hotel’s trendy restaurant. The sizzling Kobe tri-tip with mushroom brandy reduction is seriously as legendary as it sounds, while the caramelized fennel soup might have you saying to heck with your dinner plans, bring on the big bites! Between the hanger steak, rock cod, and chocolate panna cotta desert, it looks like you just might be sticking around this hotel hot spot.
St. Regis San Francisco, SoMA
San Francisco’s eclectic energy buzzes just outside the walls of the St. Regis hotel, but inside Remede Spa there’s a sense of calm. Here, time seems to slow down and stress becomes nonexistent. The tranquil saltwater infinity pool invites you in for a dip and the refreshing scent of eucalyptus wafts from the steam rooms. As for the massage services, ultra-pampering elements like the aromatherapy baths, hot stones, and salt hydrotherapy soaks add that little extra something that pushes you over the edge into relaxation territory.
Hotel Adagio, Union Square
When it comes to cool San Fran hotels, this one knows what the people want, and the people want food trucks! Keeping with the latest on the foodie scene, Hotel Adagio invites meals on wheels to park outside, so you can get some grub on the go, while tasting the local goods. Line right up for some lunchtime eats made fresh in the truck before discovering what other tricks this hotel has up its sleeves.
With a San Francisco flight booked, you’re well on your way to hotel hopping in the City by the Bay.
What’s one of the nicest hotels in San Francisco you’ve ever stayed in?