Handsome decor, culinary delights, and craft drinks are nothing new; but when paired with fluffy hotel beds and room service the next morning, the combination is our kryptonite. What can we say? We're suckers for urbane places to hang and stay.
San Francisco being a popular tourist destination, we've always had our share of charming and luxurious hotels. But recent years have been a boon to the city's boutique hotel scene, with several slick newcomers rolling out the red carpet lately. From the legendary pool parties of the now-almost-retro Phoenix Hotel to the poshly patterned and art-filled Kelly Wearstler–designed interiors of the new It spot, Proper, SF's small hotels have the right amount of bells and whistles, each unique in their own cool way.
If you're in the mood for a stylish cocktail or savory bar bite, or perhaps a romantic overnighter, here are our picks for the chicest boutique stays in SF. Who doesn't love a staycation?
With so much marvelously mismatched art and couches to flop on, we'd be content never to leave the lobby.(Courtesy of Proper Hotel)
Opened in late 2017, this pretty little number near Civic Center has it all—pin-worthy interiors, a happening restaurant with a James Beard–nominated chef, and a rooftop bar serving up creative cocktails and urban views. Looking on from the outside, the 1904 flatiron building doesn't seem like much; but behind the bouncer-flanked doors, a whimsical, modern take on old-world charm awaits. Local artwork and floral wallpaper adorn the walls, and vintage-inspired furniture, designed by L.A. interiors darling Kelly Wearstler, is an inviting place to perch whether you're waiting for a drink from the bar at Villon or a late-night Uber home. // 1100 Market St. (Civic Center); reservations (starting at $245/night) at properhotel.com.
Blonde wood, midcentury modern lines, and industrial elements make the Tilden a hipster heaven.(Aubrie Pick)
Remodeled in 2017 by Brooklyn's Studio Tack, this 1928 hotel (formerly known at the Hotel Mark Twain) has a new lease on life. While there's no other stay in town that can boast its own poet in residence, the 118-room Tilden also stands apart for its commitment to being local: Mini bars are stocked with San Francisco treats; the Curbside Café serves Equator Coffee and bites; and the Douglass room, a 45-seat speakeasy-style bar, comes courtesy of Benjamin Cooper barkeeps Mo Hodges and Brian Felley. The whole to-do is infused with a kind of '70s cult-glamour, with richly upholstered furnishings, custom lighting, and curvaceous archways throughout. Oh, and it's dog-friendly.
// 345 Taylor St. (Tenderloin); reservations (starting at $157/night) at tildenhotel.com.
The vibe at Hotel Zeppelin nods to San Francisco flower children of then and now.(Courtesy of Jet Setter)
Formerly known as the Prescott and rebranded by the Viceroy Hotel Group, Hotel Zeppelin got a makeover back in 2016 and, as its name would suggest, the place has all the rock and roll vibes—just borrow an album from the hotel's vinyl library to play on the vintage record player that is surely in your room. All 196 rooms and suites and common spaces have a bit of psychedelic flair: lava lamps, hand-painted murals, a massive peace sign made from license plates, and a retro-groovy gaming lounge. In the lobby, you can sip on Sightglass coffee and nosh freshly baked pastries from Jane and Dynamo donuts. At night, the hotel goes full lounge with craft cocktails served by the massive Gothic fireplace. When you're ready for a meal, pop into Rambler, from the hospitality group behind Redford and The Brixton.
// 545 Post St. (TenderNob); reservations (starting at $142/night) at viceroyhotelsandresorts.
If you have one too many cocktails at Benjamin Cooper, you can tuck into a tufted bed in one of the rooms upstairs.(Courtesy of Hotel G)
Perhaps best known to locals as the home of the custom cocktail-and-oyster pushing hideout bar that is Benjamin Cooper, Union Square's Hotel G (formerly the Hotel Frank) underwent two years of sprucing up before it reopened in 2014. With modern-minimalist decor by New York-based Hun Aw Studio, the 153-room hotel exudes a crisp, functional vibe, accented by vintage writing desks and Victorian settees that play on the 1908 building's history. But our favorite part, hands-down, is G's partnership with Creativity Explored: Should you fall in love with the artwork hanging in your room, you can take it home; the purchase will benefit the SF nonprofit's work with developmentally disabled adults. // 386 Geary St. (Union Square); reservations (starting at $250/night) at hotelgsanfrancisco.com.
You're not a real San Franciscan until you've had a drunken swim in the pool at the Phoenix.(Courtesy of Phoenix Hotel)
Once a seedy pay-by-the-hour motel that was made civilized by Joie de Vivre's Chip Conley way back in 1987, the Phoenix Hotel is part of SF legend. First opened in 1960 as Caravan Lodge, the quirky Tenderloin oasis has hosted rock and rollers like Neil Young and Buddy Hackett (oh the stories these walls could tell). And just as famous guests have come and gone, so too have generations of SF kids who've loved the Phoenix's gritty glamour and kitschy pool, which once hosted some of the best parties in town. Today the Phoenix has taken on the modern polish of the city, with moody Chambers restaurant serving a solid seasonal menu and craft drinks to Millennials who pack in on curvilinear Chesterfield sofas surrounded by shelves of records they wouldn't recognize. Go for a drink on the heated patio and savor the taste of old SF. // 601 Eddy St. (Tenderloin), reservations (starting at $148/night) at phoenixsf.com.
Geometric art and plush seating in Buchanan's luxe lobby. (Courtesy of the Buchanan)
Gone are the quirky anime inspirations and Giant Robot vending machine of Hotel Tomo; in are the sophisticated Nicole Hollis–designed interiors of Kimpton's new Buchanan Hotel, which is all about opulent comfort. Rich, eye-popping details include distressed leather seating, layered rugs, handmade Asian pottery, and local art. Whiskey is also a thing here, perhaps a nod to Japan's love of the stuff: Look for the light fixture made from 3,100 whiskey bottles, as well as a lobby wall crafted from reclaimed whiskey-barrel staves treated with a traditional shou-sugi ban finishing process. All 131 rooms maintain the same curated ambiance, and further hints of the hotel's Japantown locale appear in shibori-print pillows and kimono robes.
// 1800 Sutter St. (Japantown); reservations (starting at $148/night) at thebuchananhotel.com.
Simple and stylish, the inn is a lovely escape in the greenest part of town.(Courtesy of Inn at the Presidio)
Inn at the Presidio
New isn't always better, and nowhere is this as apparent as it is at the historic Inn at the Presidio. Tucked away in the lush national park at the foot of the Golden Gate, this might be the most romantic hotel around—snuggle up by the fire on the outdoor patio, then you tell us. Built in 1903 as part of the U.S. Army base, the inn was originally a residence for bachelor officers. The Georgian Revival–style brick building has been redone to house 22 comfy guest rooms, most of which are warmed by fireplaces; the requisite rocking chairs await on the front porch. From the top floor, there are views of the bridge and the bay, and every stay includes breakfast and complimentary wine and cheese in the evenings.
// 42 Moraga Ave. (Presidio); reservations (starting at $295/night) at innatthepresidio.com.
Masculine design and strong art lend urban vibes at this SoMa stay.(Courtesy of Hotel Zetta)
Since the old Hotel Milano reopened as the Viceroy's stylish Zetta back in 2013, the SoMa boutique hotel has been drawing Bay Area foodies and social mavens for meals at Big Night Restaurant Group's Ken Fulk–designed hot spot, The Cavalier. But there's more to the place than bomb Brit-inspired cuisine and the see-and-be-seen sultriness of the restaurant's backroom Marianne's: Zetta is an adult play space with shuffleboard and billiards in the game room as well as a welcoming lobby bar. The century-old building houses 116 rooms designed with eco-friendly elements and found art—the perfect spot to crash after a big night downstairs.
// 55 5th St. (SoMa); reservations (starting at $279/night) at viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/zetta.