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February 23, 2024

The Best Hotels in San Francisco

From sleek skyscrapers to idyllic inns.

By Irenie Forshaw

“It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco,” mused Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray. With its iconic bridge, hilly streets and historic cable cars, there certainly is something magnetic about this coastal stretch of California. Even the city’s famously chilly summers and year-round fog aren’t enough to put off visitors. It helps that San Francisco’s most exclusive hotels can hold their own among the very best in the US.

Whether you’re looking for no-holds-barred luxury or something a bit more pared back, there’s a wide range of options to cater to every taste. From an eco-luxe haven overlooking the Bay to a tranquil inn perched on the edge of the Golden Gate strait, these are our favorites.

[See also: The Best Hotels in New York for 2024]

The St. Regis San Francisco

st. regis san francisco restaurant
The hotel’s signature restaurant / ©The St. Regis

Located in the heart of the city’s trendy SoMa district, the St. Regis is indisputably one of San Francisco’s hottest addresses. The hotel has been given the celebrity seal of approval; Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Brooke Shields have all been spotted here. With the city’s modern art museum right next door and the leafy Yerba Buena Gardens across the street, there is plenty to explore nearby.

Set within a 40-story tower, the hotel itself is sleek and stylish. The property is home to an excellent fine dining restaurant, Astra, and an intimate bar with an impressive selection of cocktails (you can’t go wrong with the Golden Gate Mary – the hotel’s take on a classic Bloody Mary). Between 5 and 6pm there’s also a daily champagne cart serving the finest vintages with caviar pairings, and down at the bar, those with a penchant for fizz can attend a nightly Art of Sabrage service that includes opening a bottle of bubbly with a saber (a ritual dating back to the 19th century).

The hotel’s 260 rooms and suites have recently undergone a beautiful refresh; expect breezy, light-filled interiors in hues of silver and cream. Keep an eye out for the paintings and sculptures by local artists dotted throughout the communal areas.

Top Suite: Presidential Suite

If it’s killer views you’re after, it doesn’t get much better than this. Spanning 3,200 sq ft, the sprawling presidential suite features an expansive living and dining room, a luxurious bathroom complete with a soaking tub and its own library. Naturally, you’ll be treated to the St. Regis’s signature butler service.

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1 Hotel San Francisco

1 Hotel San Francisco
Expect plenty of reclaimed wood and native greenery / ©1 Hotels

Our list of the best hotels in San Francisco would not be complete without mentioning 1 Hotels. Situated on the waterfront Embarcadero boulevard along the city’s eastern shoreline, this sustainable sanctuary is the perfect spot for eco-conscious travelers.

As those who have stayed at a 1 Hotels outpost will expect, the property is decorated with plenty of reclaimed wood, native greenery and hand-woven rugs. Thoughtful touches abound from the energy-efficient heating and cooling systems to the fully electric Audi e-tron house car.

There are 186 rooms and 14 suites in total. Interiors are pared-back and minimalist in warm, earthy hues. Bathrooms are stocked with Bamford bath products while the mini bar is filled to the brim with artisan goodies like bean-to-bar chocolate and craft-brewed Marin Kombucha.

The farm-to-table restaurant, Terrene, has a menu built around vibrant, locally sourced produce (all ingredients travel 50 miles or less). Dishes are prepared using vegetables grown at the chef’s garden on the roof and honey from the on-site beehives. And if it’s R&R you’re after, stop by for a treatment at the hotel’s Bamford Wellness Spa or sign up for a complimentary yoga session.  

Top Suite: Ferry House Terrace Suite

With its expansive outdoor terrace and sweeping views across the Bay, this gorgeous abode is a cut above the rest. The suite comes with an array of perks including a 50-minute de-stress massage at the spa.

The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco

ritz-carlton nob hill
The exclusive hotel is set within a grand neoclassical building in Nob Hill / ©The Ritz-Carlton

Next, we head to another of San Francisco’s hotel heavyweights: The Ritz-Carlton. Set within a grand neoclassical building in the city’s swanky Nob Hill neighborhood, this is the place to go if it’s all-out luxury you’re after.

The grand lobby sets the tone; expect soaring columns, glittering chandeliers and gleaming marble floors. Rooms are a picture of refined elegance in shades of cream and marine blue (many boast panoramic views out over the Bay).

There’s also a chic cocktail bar, wine-tasting lounge and signature restaurant, Parallel 37.  On the last Sunday of every month from January through May, the hotel hosts a special ‘Madame Clicquot’ afternoon tea – glasses of fizz served with a selection of freshly baked sweet treats and sandwiches.

Top Suite: Presidential Suite

Located on the top floor, the Presidential Suite is one of San Francisco’s most prestigious accommodations. French windows open onto a sizeable terrace – the perfect spot to watch the sunset with a chilled glass of wine.

Fairmont San Francisco

fairmont san francisco lobby
The lobby is unashamedly extravagant with its soaring columns and enormous potted plants / ©Fairmont San Francisco

Another landmark hotel luring guests to Nob Hill is the Fairmont. The historic Beaux-Arts property opened in 1907 – exactly one year after the Great Earthquake and subsequent fire that destroyed the city – and quickly became a symbol of San Francisco’s rebirth.

As the luxury brand’s flagship, it’s seriously glamorous. The lobby is unashamedly extravagant; expect soaring columns, enormous potted plants and gilded accents at every turn. A favored spot among the rich and famous, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole are among the stars to have graced its hallowed walls.

There are quite literally hundreds of rooms to choose from (606 to be exact) set across the historic main building and 23-story modern tower. Dining options are plentiful; be sure to grab a bite to eat and a cocktail at the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar. Crafted by a Hollywood set designer (who else?), the focal point is the hotel’s former swimming pool which has been transformed into a ‘lagoon’.

For something a bit quieter head to Laurel Court – an opulent restaurant decked out with Tuscan-style frescoes, plush velvet chairs and a grand piano. Seafood is the star of the show here, from hearty chowders to crispy calamari and grilled Pacific swordfish.

Top Suite: Penthouse Suite

Sprawling 6,000 sq ft, this extravagant abode is decorated in regal shades of gold and blue. Artworks by the likes of David Hockney adorn the walls and there’s a gorgeous terrace ideal for hosting parties. The suite even has a secret passage behind one of the bookcases. Count us in.

Four Seasons San Francisco

Four Seasons has two ultra-luxe hotels in San Francisco just a few blocks apart. The original outpost – which opened back in 2001 – is located within a modern tower, moments from Union Square on Market Street.

Guests have access to the super exclusive Equinox Sports Club complete with a full-size basketball court, swimming pool, well-equipped gym and several yoga studios. Be sure to take advantage of the complimentary fitness classes.

With its sweeping downtown views and cozy leather booths, the hotel’s stylish restaurant – MKT – is a nice spot to while away an evening. The vibrant menu showcases sustainable seafood and seasonal veg; expect dishes like foraged mushroom gnocchi and seared bass drizzled with a citrus lobster emulsion. After dinner, stop by for a nightcap at the Veranda Terrace – a moodily-lit bar overlooking the city’s modern art museum.

Top Suite: Presidential Suite

For a home-from-home vibe, book the Presidential Suite. The oak flooring, carefully curated artwork and bespoke furnishings make this cozy abode feel more like an (impeccably designed) apartment than a hotel room. It’s a great spot for hosting dinner parties; the wine fridge is stocked with more than 30 bottles specially chosen by the Four Seasons’ sommelier.

Hotel Drisco

hotel drisco room
The hotel has just 44 elegant rooms and suites / ©Hotel Drisco

Tucked between the mansions of San Francisco’s well-heeled Pacific Heights neighborhood, this hilltop hideaway is only a couple of blocks from the Presidio National Park – a sprawling expanse of greenery overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

With its wood-paneled lobby and walnut furnishings, the property itself feels more akin to a country inn than a flash hotel. This is very much a boutique experience; Hotel Drisco has just 44 rooms in total, including 16 suites. Expect more than a touch of luxury from the Egyptian cotton sheets and goose-down comforters to the Bulgari toiletries.

Every evening between 5 and 7pm, the hotel treats guests to a complimentary wine reception with a smorgasbord of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie. You can also ask to borrow a bike to explore San Francisco (the hotel provides locks, helmets and backpacks).

Top Suite: City View Suite

We love the look of the aptly named City View Suites. Decorated in a soothing cream-and-gray color palette, it’s hard not to feel enveloped by a sense of calm from the moment you step through the door.

The Battery

The next entry on our list is a swanky private members’ club that doubles as a boutique hotel (guests are treated as honorary members with access to all the facilities). This really is one of the coolest spots in San Francisco; there are just 14 suites, each beautifully designed by Ken Fulk. The stone-tiled bathrooms complete with Japanese soaking tubs deserve a mention, too.

Located on the edge of the financial district within a former candy factory, The Battery is a stone’s throw from the city’s east-facing waterfront – the Embarcerado – and an array of gourmet restaurants.  

Interiors are dark and moodily lit. The club is home to several buzzy bars, a courtyard dotted with comfy sofas and a wine cellar stocked with over 1,600 labels. There’s also a laid-back lounge (the ideal workspace) and a mini spa complete with a hot tub, steam room and sauna.

Top Suite: Lounge

The biggest – and most exclusive – accommodation at The Battery is the Lounge. Lovely touches like the exposed original red brick walls and original artworks dotted throughout make it extra special.

Inn at the Presidio

The red-brick Georgian Revival-style property used to serve as a military barracks for the US Army / ©Inn at the Presidio

Last but by no means least in our list of the best hotels in San Francisco is this charming inn. Located on the edge of the Presidio National Park close to the Golden Gate Bridge, this is one of the most tranquil retreats in the city.

The red-brick Georgian Revival-style property is home to 22 accommodations, including 17 suites with crackling fireplaces. Steeped in history, the building was constructed in 1895 to serve as a military barracks for the US Army.

After long days exploring the beautiful park, evenings can be spent relaxing on the porch or by the firepit with a glass of wine. Bliss.

Top Suite: Funston House

Our favorite accommodation is Funston House – a renovated officer’s home close to the main building. Ideal for groups, the entire property can be booked for an unforgettable stay.

[See also: The Best Hotels in Miami]

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