A Northern Californian city bursting with culture at every turn, San Francisco is home to some of the most iconic landmarks, activities, and neighborhoods in the country. Yet, while San Francisco fits itself into just 46 square miles, there’s so much to do and see in the city that picking just one neighborhood to base yourself in is a big decision.
We’re sharing our insider tips on where to stay in San Francisco — and we’ve gathered our top picks for the best hotels in each neighborhood!
Where to Stay in San Francisco (The Best Hotels in Each Neighborhood)
The Mission District
The oldest neighborhood in San Francisco, the Mission district was once an eclectic neighborhood with heavy roots in the Latino community. Once a working-class area, the Mission has changed a lot in recent years due to the tech boom. While there are still remnants of its humble, yet extremely artistic past, today the mission is where to go if you want hipster bars and boutiques in a district that still feels like it has a bit of an edge to it.
While in the Mission District, hang out and have a picnic at Dolores Park, eat at one of the many taqueria’s, and go thrift shopping.
Where to Stay in The Mission District
For budget travelers heading to The Mission, check out Nineteen 06 Mission, a cute little Bed & Breakfast that keeps energy-efficiency at the forefront.
For a great mid-budget stay, check out The Inn San Francisco. This cute B&B offers rooms with Victorian decor and a daily breakfast buffet.
The historic center of San Francisco’s LGBT community, you’ll know you’re in The Castro neighborhood when you see one of the many rainbow flags blowing in the breeze. Located in the Eureka Valley, The Castro is one of the safest areas in San Francisco, and although it may be a lot tamer and gentrified than it was in its heyday, is still a vibrant community filled with bars and restaurants for all tastes and styles.
While in The Castro, catch a film at The Castro Theatre, where a wide selection of movies are screened, or go hiking up one of the Twin Peaks, where you’ll catch awesome 360 views of the city. Also, for a little piece of political and LGBT history in The Castro, stop by the Human Rights Campaign (located in the space that was once Harvey Milk’s Camera Shop) where all proceeds from the HRC go to supporting organizations that carry on Harvey Milk’s legacy.
Where to Stay in The Castro
For a budget stay in the Castro, check out The Willows Inn, a no-frills, yet highly rated hotel.
For a mid-level option, try Beck’s Motor Lodge. This charming motel provides free parking and a spacious sun deck.
Read more: 20 Best Things to Do in San Francisco
An area with a rich Italian and artsy heritage that’s adjacent to China Town, North Beach is a colorful community that by day is filled with art galleries, boutique shops, and an array of restaurants. However, by night-time, North Beach turns into nightlife heaven, with every kind of bar and nightclub you could ever imagine.
In North Beach, hang out in Washington Square Park, go see Beach Blanket Babylon (the world’s longest-running musical), check out Coit Tower, and have pizza at one of the many Italian restaurants. Additionally, for a dose of Beat writer history, go book shopping at City Light’s Bookseller and Publishers, one of the most famous and historic bookstores in the country.
Where to Stay in North Beach
For a great mid-level stay in North Beach, consider Hotel Boheme. This atmospheric hotel will have you feeling as though you stepped right into the 50’s and 60’s.
Another great mid-level hotel is the Washington Square Inn. This warm Inn overlooks Washington Square Park and features all the amenities.
A San Francisco neighborhood that is home to high-rise office buildings, restaurants, and galleries alike, Downtown (also known as the Financial District) is where to go for Michelin-star restaurants, towering buildings, and swanky cocktail bars.
While staying here, be sure to check out the Cable Car Museum, The Metreon (if not for the shopping, for the largest IMAX in North America), and stop by the War Memorial Opera House, home to the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Opera.
Where to Stay Downtown
For a great mid-level downtown option, check out Hotel Des Arts. Sure to delight any art lover, this more modest hotel is home to a free continental breakfast and an on-site French-style Brasserie.
Another awesome mid-level stay is the BEI San Francisco. This modern property features bright, airy rooms, and an Asian breakfast buffet. Plus, all guests receive free access to the fitness club!
For an upscale downtown stay, consider The Donatello Hotel. This Italian-inspired hotel features beautiful rooms and an awesome restaurant, the Zingari Ristorante.
Best known as being the hub of the 1960’s counterculture movement, Haight-Ashbury (or, The Haight) has gone through a bit of a change of identity in recent years, yet is still able to be a colorful community with bohemian charm. Here you’ll find great vintage shops, bookstores, and record stores nestled in between high-end boutiques.
In Haight Ashbury, head out to Golden Gate Park for an afternoon (and visit Hippie Hill if you’re interested in drum circles and the like), go shopping, catch a concert at Amoeba Records, and take yourself on a self-guided mural tour.
Where to Stay in Haight-Ashbury
A Haight-Ashbury staple, the mid-level Stanyan Park Hotel is just steps from Golden Gate Park. This pretty property features Victorian-style rooms and a wine and cheese hour in the evenings.
Read more: Northern California Packing Guide for Women
SoMa, or South of Market, is a large district near the downtown area that stretches from Market to Townsend between the Embarcadero to Eleventh Street. The area is full of high-end nightspots, warehouses, art galleries, and parks.
I’d recommend heading to the California Historical Society to catch up on your Golden State history, paying a visit to the Cartoon Art Museum, heading to one of the many breweries, and hitting up the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Where to Stay in SoMa
A great mid-level stay in SoMa is the Pickwick Hotel. This property features light-colored rooms and a great restaurant and bar, also called SOMA.
For a luxurious stay check out the St. Regis. This classy property features a full on-site spa and an indoor infinity pool.
Another beautiful luxury property is Hotel Via. This beautiful hotel, while closer to South Beach, features bright rooms (with custom-made furniture no less), a communal workspace, and a fitness center.
Found between Polk, Post, Mason, and Washington streets, Nob Hill is one of San Francisco’s most swanky and well-known neighborhoods and is full of high-end luxury hotels and gorgeous mansions. The area has a very distinct old-timey vibe to it, with a lot of vintage shops and cafes.
Nob Hill is also home to many famous landmarks to check out, including the gorgeous Grace Cathedral, the Argonaut Book Shop, and The Masonic concert hall.
Where to Stay in Nob Hill
For a mid-budget stay, consider the Nob Hill Inn. With Edwardian-style decor, this cute property is close to a ton of attractions.
The Fairmont San Francisco is the crown jewel of Nob Hill luxury properties. This beautiful hotel features a full-service gym and spa and offers panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Full of gorgeous Victorian houses and artful boutiques, Pacific Heights is one of San Francisco’s most picturesque neighborhoods and is a beautiful place to walk around and gaze at the brilliant architecture. Due to its status, Pacific Heights has a more laid-back, quiet atmosphere that’s great for families.
While in Pacific Heights, I’d recommend doing some high-end shopping (or window shopping) at some of the great boutiques in the area, taking in the SF views at Alta Plaza Park, and take the stairs at Broadway and Lyon.
Where to Stay in Pacific Heights
For a more modest stay in Pacific Heights, check out Laurel Inn. This cute hotel provides bright rooms in a central location.
For something ritzier, consider Hotel Drisco. This historic property includes a free gourmet breakfast, evening wine and cheese, and an on-site fitness center.
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