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San Francisco’s had a fascinating journey over the years. Established by Gold Rush miners in the 1850s, adopted by hippies in the 1960s, and now home to some of the most influential tech companies on the planet, it makes for a rather eclectic stay.
Repeat visits are an ideal way to truly appreciate the ‘City by the Bay’. Plus, there’s something new to discover each time, from its funky art scene overflowing with museums and galleries to the tantalising array of dining hangouts.
Looking to explore the counterculture movement in Haight-Ashbury, fancy catching the ferry to infamous Alcatraz, or want to immerse yourself in the Italian flair of North Beach? (Or perhaps all three.) You’re going to need a great hotel base.
The best luxury hotels in San Francisco
As you could imagine, this Northern Californian gem is home to countless hotels, from luxury penthouse apartments perched atop towering skyscrapers to quirky boutique properties where there’s no such thing as ‘too much’.
With that in mind, and in no particular order, here are 10 of the best luxury hotels San Francisco has to offer.
- The best luxury hotels in San Francisco
- Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero
- The St Regis San Francisco
- The Ritz Carlton San Francisco
- 1 Hotel San Francisco
- Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square
- InterContinental Hotel San Francisco
- W San Francisco
- The Battery
- Fairmont San Francisco
- Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero
If it’s a room with a view you seek, you’ve come to the right place at the Four Seasons Hotel at Embarcadero. Filling the top 11 floors of a 48-storey landmark, it’s not only the city’s highest hotel but its location is great too – surrounded by museums and eateries.
As you’d imagine, the 155-room hotel is blessed with sweeping city views, from Sutro Tower to the Golden Gate Bridge. Inside, expect king-sized beds, mid-century furnishings and deep soaking tubs – all positioned to breathe in the glittering city lights.
What you may not expect though is the hotel’s Skybridge, a glassed-in midsection of the upper floors, which is like its own mini observation deck. The views are even more impressive than those in the guest rooms.
When hunger calls, all-day dining is served at The Lounge & Bar, an elegant and intimate venue plating up elevated bar bites and heartier main meals. There’s also a 24-hour fitness centre to help you stay energised.
The St Regis San Francisco
Step inside any St Regis around the world and you’ll find impeccable white-glove service, opulent rooms and restaurants that tickle your tastebuds in all the right places. Of course, the St Regis San Francisco delivers it all – and more.
Every bit as elegant outside as in, this premium hangout sits across from the SFMoMa – one of USA’s largest modern art museums – with its 260 newly-redesigned rooms and suites appointed to match its artsy surroundings.
On the dining front, the hotel has you covered with three enticing options: The St. Regis Bar, Tea Salon for delectable afternoon teas, and Astra restaurant, offering a taste of seasonal farm-to-table Californian cuisine.
For those who like to stay active on their trips, the hotel’s extensive 570 sqm fitness centre boasts the latest cardio, weights and aerobics equipment – and you can even request your own personal trainer. Read more in our review here.
The Ritz Carlton San Francisco
For all-out luxury, the Ritz-Carlton is the pièce de résistance in San Francisco. Housed in a neoclassical 1909-built and immaculately-maintained address in swanky Nob Hill, this five star property is brimming with character, personality and style.
For starters, its contemporary interiors and high-tech dimensions – including virtual concierges providing guests with various maps and attractions – offer the perfect combination of old-world glamour and modern convenience.
The dining front does not disappoint either. Chef Michael Rotondo – formerly of Chicago’s Michelin-star restaurant Charlie Trotter’s – helms the award-winning Parallel 37 restaurant, where guests can treat their taste buds to exquisite American classics.
Other spots to see and be seen are The JCB Tasting Lounge, where guests can enjoy curated three course wine flights; or the The Lounge, which pairs a selection of sustainably-driven dishes with your handcrafted evening cocktails.
1 Hotel San Francisco
Another property nudging the San Francisco Bay is the 1 Hotel San Francisco. With eco principles at the core of its brand, enviable waterfront location and a legitimately cool vibe, this technology-driven urban sanctuary ticks all the boxes for a relaxing stay.
Greeting guests is a calming lobby dotted with plants and low-slung leather and upholstered couches; throw rugs casually draped over the settees. It wouldn’t look out of place in Scandinavia.
Rooms opt for a modern industrial design, swathed in a restful colour palette that doubles down on neutrals – plenty of cream, sand, and grey – in true 1 Hotel style. High windows afford privileged bay views from many rooms.
As mentioned, sustainability runs deep. Each floor of the hotel features water taps for guests to refill recycled wine bottles, there are optional timers in all the showers, and you can leave unwanted clothing to be given to a local shelter.
And as for exploring the city itself, there are complimentary e-bikes to whisk you around, or an electric Audi car, if you’d prefer.
Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square
Exposed bricks, bay views, cosy fireplaces, and plush lounges are just a taste of what awaits at the Fairmont Heritage Place – a former chocolate factory turned hotel at revitalised Ghirardelli Square.
Boasting a prime seafront location on the fringes of the otherwise kitschy Fisherman's Wharf (San Francisco's most infamous tourist trap), guests enjoy knockout city and bay views from each of the apartment-style residences of this all-suite hotel.
Three eateries provide culinary choices for all tastes and moods, starting with flagship seafood and steak specialist McCormick and Kuleto’s.
If you are more into cold drinks and quick bites, San Francisco Brewing Co serves an innovative selection of handcrafted beers and San Francisco-inspired pub food.
InterContinental Hotel San Francisco
If it’s a luxury San Francisco hotel you seek, you can’t go wrong with InterContinental’s outpost in the Golden City. Central to the Moscone Center, SF Moma and Yerba Buena Center, this five-star gem caters equally to business and leisure stays.
On arrival, guests are greeted by an expansive, socially-minded lobby filled with natural light and multiple nooks to settle in for a chat or read a book.
Relax in one of its 550 guest rooms, treat your tastebuds at Luce – the hotel’s award-winning fine dining venue – or kick back with a few cocktails at BAR 888, a sophisticated venue specialising in aromatic grappas.
Guests staying at one of the top-floor Club rooms can also enjoy complimentary access to the hotel’s Club Lounge. Non-club guests are welcome to stop by for a fee.
An enclosed heated lap pool and a spacious 24-hour fitness centre culminate the scene.
W San Francisco
Enveloped by the city’s financial district, a few steps from the Moscone Center, W San Francisco places guests right in the beating heart of the trendy SoMa district, with main attractions like Union Square and Yerba Buena Gardens just minutes away.
Like many W hotels, San Fran's iteration is über-trendy. The hotel features 401 rooms and suites from Wonderful rooms all the way to the top floor Extreme Wow suite: an 81 sqm hideaway that's sure to keep the amusement going after your day taking in the eclectic city sights.
As with for rest of the property, the dining scene manages to strike the balance between creativity and innovation. Standouts are ‘Trace’, blending high-quality cuisine with a dedication to responsible food and the vibrant Living Room Bar.
When it’s time to detox, W’s signature Whatever/Whenever service means all your cravings are satisfied at the touch of a button – perhaps a playful late-night drink delivered to your room or a set of workout gear when you want to make your way into the state-of-the-art FIT gym.
One of the hidden gems of San Francisco’s luxury hotel scene. The Battery is actually a private member’s club, which happens to house 14 high-end hotel rooms inside – with guests getting an all-access pass to the club’s exclusive facilities.
Designed by San Francisco’s interior design guru Ken Fulk, every space smacks of no expense spared: large gold chain chandeliers illuminate a bar arrayed with ship mastheads and soft leather furnishings, while a sleek hand-built glass elevator whisks guests between floors – allowing great views of the Transamerica Pyramid.
The rest of the hotel is similarly eclectic. There’s a moody laid-back atmosphere at the famous late-night Musto Bar, classy vibes at The House Bar restaurant and an almost beach-like feel at the outside sun-soaked Garden Bar.
As for the suites, each one is sumptuous and tranquil; decked out with custom and vintage pieces by Fulk, all enhanced by natural light thanks to the large factory windows.
But the name of the game here is The Penthouse, a 560 sqm haven boasting a full size bar, fireplace and an extensive wraparound rooftop terrace with views to the San Francisco Bay.
While no longer at the height of their reign, these regal San Francisco icons still deserve a moment in the spotlight.
Fairmont San Francisco
Occupying a coveted position atop the well-heeled Nob Hill neighbourhood, the historic Fairmont San Francisco is arguably among the crown jewels of the city’s elite hotels.
Behind its imposing 100-year-old façade are 606 rooms, ranging from Standard Queens to San Francisco’s most expensive hotel suite, the Legacy Collection Penthouse Suite.
Spanning an entire floor of the hotel, the sprawling 557 sqm suite houses three bedrooms, a billiards room adorned in elegant Moroccan tiles, sparking multi-level library, and an expansive terrace with views of the Golden Gate and skyline.
The hotel’s dining scene – composed of the all-day dining Laurel Court Restaurant & Bar – is what you’d expect of a grande dame: imposing pillars, ornate ceilings and even a grand piano, all backdropping a careful selection of coastal-inspired dishes.
Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel
It may not be the newest in town, yet the Palace Hotel never fails to be named among the city’s best. Decked out in gilded age luxury and brimming with historical details, refined elegance is evident across each of the hotel’s public areas.
Fine dining comes courtesy of The Garden Court, a Californian-inspired restaurant housed under an imposing 110-year-old glass dome and gargantuan chandelier dripping in crystal.
Then there’s Pied Piper, a long-favoured venue among city locals, where you can sip a signature cocktail or simply marvel at the famous Maxfield Parrish painting that holds court above the century-old oak bar.
To further unwind, check out the hotel’s indoor, glass ceiling-enclosed heated lap pool – perfect for taking in the sunlight by day or marvelling at the city lights by night.