Best Hotels In San Francisco: Top 5 Stays Most Recommended By Experts

It’s no wonder San Francisco’s a must-see destination: its eclectic charms offer something for everyone, whether they’re looking for a bustling, buzzy city with an iconic skyline or a bohemian oasis with spectacular outdoor options. No matter your reasons for visiting “The Golden City,” no doubt you don’t want to slack when it comes to finding the best hotels in San Francisco, and that’s where StudyFinds can step in; we’ve gone to the experts to figure out which hotels live up to the hype.

One draw is San Francisco’s reputation as one of the healthiest cities in the United States. In fact, it’s even rated among the best places to live in California. Its vibrant art scene also means there’s always something to do in the city.

And while it’s developed the image of being the nation’s Big Tech mecca, there’s so much more to the “City by the Bay.” There are vineyards to explore, Victorian townhouses to admire, the Golden Gate Bridge, and world-class restaurants dotting the streets. 

Must-See Attractions in San Francisco:

Aside from the previously-mentioned Golden Gate Bridge, there are endless places to visit in San Fransisco. This is just a starting point, of course.

  • Golden Gate Park: This sprawling park is home to a variety of attractions, including the Japanese Tea Garden, the California Academy of Sciences, and the de Young Museum. You can also rent a paddle boat in Stow Lake, visit the San Francisco Botanical Garden, or simply relax on one of the many grassy lawns.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf: This lively waterfront district is home to Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. You can also enjoy fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants, or take a boat tour of the bay.
  • Alcatraz Island: This former prison is now a popular tourist destination. You can take a ferry tour to the island and learn about its history, or take a more immersive experience with the Night Tour, which includes stories of escape attempts and paranormal activity.
  • Chinatown: San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and largest in North America. You can wander through the maze of streets, sample dim sum at one of the many restaurants, or visit one of the many temples.
  • Cable Cars: These iconic San Francisco trolleys are a fun way to get around the city. You can ride them up and down the steep hills, or simply enjoy the views from the top.
  • Twin Peaks: This hilltop offers stunning views of the city and the bay. You can drive to the top, hike to the top, or take the Muni Metro K Ingleside Line.
  • Haight-Ashbury: This historic neighborhood was once the center of the 1960s counterculture movement. Today, it’s a popular spot for shopping, dining, and people-watching.
  • Painted Ladies: These colorful Victorian houses are a popular tourist destination. You can see them from Alamo Square Park, or take a walking tour of the neighborhood.
  • The Presidio: This former military base is now a national park. You can hike or bike through the forests, visit the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, or explore the history of the area at the Presidio Museum.

Whether visiting for business or pleasure, we’re here to help! StudyFinds consulted 10 expert sites to bring you this list of the top five best hotels in San Francisco, and we must say, they’re all good choices. Tell us your experiences with these hotels in the comments below!

San Francisco Golden Gate bridge at daytime
San Francisco Golden Gate bridge (Photo by Natalie Chaney on Unsplash)

The List: Best Hotels in San Francisco, According to Experts

1. Hotel Drisco

This historic hotel is chic and luxurious, making it a particularly good choice for special occasions. “Charming, with the feel of a country getaway,” writes Condé Nast Traveler. “Request turn-down service, and you’ll return to find a white-noise machine and a chocolate shortbread cookie stamped with the hotel logo. Don’t miss the complimentary breakfast buffet—it’s a beautiful spread. This is more for those looking for an intimate experience in a beautiful, quiet neighborhood.”

A stay here is a stay to remember. Trip Savvy writes, “With their meticulous attention to the smallest details, minimalist decor, and attentive service, Hotel Drisco is where discerning travelers stay for a quiet and posh getaway.”

And Global Grasshopper calls it “a gorgeous historic hotel which boasts Edwardian architecture and an old-school glamour.” Sounds like a spot you’ll want to experience for yourself!

2. Four Seasons at Embarcadero

It exceeds expectations as a top-floor experience with excellent views. The Tour Guy calls it “a luxurious choice for your San Francisco trip.” They write, “Since this hotel occupies the last 11 stories of a 48-story building, every room has an amazing view overlooking the city.”

Aside from the breathtaking view, “guests experience the height of modern luxury in 155 luxuriously appointed rooms & suites, featuring bespoke furnishings and carefully chosen textures,” notes The Luxury Travel Expert.

And Forbes writes, “the Four Seasons near the Embarcadero is a sleek hotel in the sky. The Guy Dill sculpture in the lobby and the bright-white staircase give it the vibe of a museum. This art gallery look continues in the modernist guest rooms with clean-lined midcentury furnishings and hand-tufted rugs with burnt red, dove grey and black shapes. Large windows let in lots of light and soaking tubs are positioned to take in the city views.”

3. Palace Hotel

An opulent space that offers amazing food, drinks, and five-star amenities makes the Palace Hotel one of the best. “San Francisco’s most historic hotel offers luxurious lodgings downtown. Gorgeous Beaux Arts architectural details mix with contemporary style, and high-ceilinged rooms are elegantly designed for comfort. Afternoon high tea in the Garden Court and cocktails at the Pied Piper are beloved traditions,” states The Telegraph.

And it has the best amenities, according to Forbes. It writes, “Standout amenities include the hotel’s glass covered indoor swimming pool, a rarity in San Francisco. Guest rooms with high ceilings and crown molding stay true to the hotel’s original spirit but furnishings like cream-colored leather headboards and wood writing desks feel very current.”

TimeOut also loves this iconic hotel. Why? “The Palace’s tasteful yet simple guest rooms make a nice counterpoint to its lavish lobby and dining room. With Austrian crystal chandeliers (each weighing 750 pounds), Ionic columns of Italian marble, and a domed glass ceiling, the 8,000-square-foot Garden Court remains one of the most magnificent dining rooms in the state,” they add in their review.

4. St. Regis

A bit of cosmopolitan luxury that has all the bells and whistles. Jetsetter touts it as, “the socialite’s sleep of choice,” writing, “it’s no wonder: personal butlers escort guests to their rooms, which are minimal but sumptuous with leather walls and deep soaking tubs. The place to see and be seen is the lobby bar, where San Francisco’s business-minded movers and shakers come for drinks and mingling. The hotel also features its new signature restaurant Astra, the property’s newest signature restaurant.”

U.S. News & World Report calls it a “modern masterpiece of a hotel.” They go on to say, “Accommodations here are exceptionally roomy, but if you want to spread out, book a Metropolitan Suite, which boasts almost 1,000 square feet of space. Travelers rave about the digs here, but what they especially enjoy about this St. Regis property is its location near a number of the city’s most popular attractions and its modern decor and its friendly service staff.”

“High-rolling business travelers and NBA players make the St. Regis their go-to hotel when in San Francisco, and it’s easy to see why,” writes Condé Nast Traveler. “It’s a proper luxury hotel, with OTT amenities like cashmere quilts, limousine service, and beds with rich leather headboards designed to evoke a sports car interior.”

The St. Regis also boasts an afternoon tea at the Tea Salon from Thursday through Sunday. Later, guests can enjoy the signature St. Regis ritual celebrating sundown – The Art of Sabrage. A complimentary glass of champagne is also presented to all guests after the event.

5. Ritz-Carlton

The original architecture is complemented by modern upgrades that make this hotel exceptional and understandably one of the best hotels in San Francisco. The Luxury Travel Expert mentions that “Each of the 336 guest rooms, which recently underwent a $7 million USD renovation, feature Italian marble bathrooms with double sinks, separate water closets, luxurious amenities and plush terry robes. Guests can enjoy world-renowned cuisine in the hotel’s signature restaurant, Parallel 37. There’s also a full-service spa, offering revitalizing facials, body treatments, and massage therapies.”

Global Grasshopper calls the 19th-century Neoclassical gem “a refined and romantic hotel.”

“You’ll get a five-star experience at this hotel that’s just five minutes from the Powell Street BART Station and close to all the action of downtown San Francisco. However, because it’s located at the top of Nob Hill, it is a bit more removed, which provides a little more tranquility than some of the other downtown hotels,” writes The Tour Guy.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.