All the way back to the Gold Rush and one thing’s for sure: San Francisco has a fiercely independent spirit. But one look at the big hotels clustered around Union Square (aka many a visitors ground zero) and it can seem, well, like the city is about chains when it comes to hotels.
Good news is that beyond downtown, that is very much not the case. Thanks to the recent revamps of some classic hotels as well as a few new boutique hotel openings, the city’s lodging options have been given a much-appreciated breath of fresh air.
When looking for where to stay in San Francisco, we love staying at independent hotels because they often have a local personality, interesting design, and strong attention to detail. Another bonus? Some many boutique hotels are locally owned and we love putting our travel dollars right into the local economy whenever possible.
For all those reasons and more we found it high time to share our favorite boutique hotels in San Francisco. These are the spots that have that distinct city spirit through and through and where you should book a room at one of the unique places to stay in San Francisco.
Inn at the Presidio
This 26-room inn is set in the heart of the historic Presidio, a national park that was a military post for over 200 years before becoming part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Originally a Georgian Revival-style building that was restored as a guest lodge, the Inn at the Presidio opened in 2012 and has been in popular demand ever since. Perched overlooking the bay, with easy access to the hiking trails of Marin, Chrissy Field, and San Francisco’s many attractions, this hotel offers a scenic, and historic, place to rest your head.
The Lodge at the Presidio
Due to the popularity of the Inn at the Presidio, a new hotel is slated to open this summer to expand the hospitality offerings in the Presidio. The Lodge at the Presidio will also be owned by the Presidio Trust and operated by Waterford Hotels. With 42-rooms, the Lodge will be centrally located in the heart of the Presidio and housed in military barracks are undergoing a complete historic rehabilitation. Not to be outdone by it’s sister property, the majority of these new guest rooms will have views of the Golden Gate Bridge or the San Francisco Bay. The Lodge will feature a courtyard with a fire pit, a front porch with rocking chairs, and a large dining room for complimentary breakfast and wine and cheese will be served. If you’re looking for classic city views, this is where stay in San Francisco.
Perched atop of the Pacific Heights neighborhood, the Hotel Drisco delivers both stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and sophisticated service. Housed in the original 1903 Edwardian style building (with recent renovations and improvements), the 43-room hotel is a luxurious destination in the heart of one of the most desirable, and iconic, residential neighborhoods in the city. The building, with a recent, thorough renovation, marries historic charm with modern touches, leaving no detail overlooked and a bevy of unique places to admire in San Fran.
From its roots as a 1960s motel to a destination for some of the great rock ‘n’ roll bands, the Phoenix remains one of the most popular San Francisco hotels today. Smack dab in the middle of the Tenderloin district, it’s both affordably priced (a rare find in this city) and conveniently located for most of San Francisco’s main tourist attractions. Despite its urban location, the hotel embodies a relaxed and free spirit personality, with a tropical courtyard oasis and heated pool. The funky rooms have seen lots of musicians stay over the years, and continue to exude personality to this day. A popular destination itself, the onsite restaurant Chambers houses one of the most extensive record collections in the country.
The Proper Hotel
The newly opened Proper Hotel sits in a historical flatiron, red-brick building on Market Street. Interior design by Kelly Wearstler is playful and unexpected, mixing the tradition feel of the building with vibrant colors and bold graphics. The three restaurants offer a range of dining options to choose from; Villion, the all day restaurant and lounge, Charmaines, rooftop bar and lounge with fabulous views of the city, and La Bande, a casual cafe and market. The 131 guest rooms are decadently designed and unique - check out the bunk rooms for a thoughtful take on traveling with friends or coworkers - with thoughtful amenities and sophisticated attention to detail. Despite being new on the radar, this has quickly become a local hot spot because of the fact it’s one of the truly unique places to stay in San Francisco.
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