What are the best boutique hotels in San Francisco?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Maria Hunt

Everyone seems to have a different definition of the phrase “boutique hotel.” To me, it means a place that’s relatively small in size, with no more than 100 rooms — and often a lot less. The smaller scale allows the hotel to offer special amenities, posh details and a higher level of personal service. Here are a few San Francisco sleeps that live up to the boutique label:

Hotel Drisco is tucked away in the storied Pacific Heights neighborhood, offering an elegant retreat that quietly attracts Hollywood celebrities. The hotel was originally built in 1903, so it has clean Edwardian lines and 48 rooms and suites that are comfortable and traditionally furnished. Extra-special touches include the full breakfast each morning, a town car service, bespoke bath amenities  by Agraria and evening wine.  

Taj Campton Place, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel, offers European charm and an ideal location just steps from Union Square. The 110 guest rooms elegantly designed by Sylvia Chiang feature Frette linens, lots of high-tech touches and limestone baths with deep soaking tubs. 

One of the newest historic hotels in San Francisco is Inn at the Presidio, which is a 22-room boutique hotel set in the former Pershing Hall on the Main Post of the famous military base. A fine example of Georgian Revival architecture, the hotel is filled with other vintage touches like a display of bugles, historic photos and coats of arms that recall the past. Rooms all include touches like cozy woolen blankets, gas fireplaces, snappy striped robes and coffea/tea makers Settle into one of the rocking chairs on the porch while enjoying the wine and cheese reception each evening.  And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the inn thoughtfully offers self-parking for just $6 a night, inarguably the best value in town.

With 53 suites set up like apartments, the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square offers a residential and scenic stay overlooking the San Francisco Bay. The suites with one, two or three bedrooms set in the former chocolate factory offer kitchens, living rooms with fireplaces and dining areas if you feel like shopping and making a light supper. The concierge and butler at your disposal 24 hours a day, plus the chauffeur-driven luxury car make it feel like you’ve just moved up in the world.

Katie Sweeney

When it comes to lodging accommodations, San Francisco is full of hotels in all shapes and sizes. If you prefer the chic comforts of a small boutique hotel, your best selecting one of the following establishments.

The Clift Hotel. Located just steps away from Union Square on Geary Street, the Clift is a sleek, modern, and dark hotel with moody decor designed by Philippe Starck. The rooms are minimalist, but luxurious; the hotel bar, The Redwood Room, is a great spot for people watching.

The Hotel Vitale. On the Embarcadero directly across from the Ferry Building, the Vitale boasts beautiful sprawling views of the bay. With its muted color palate and spa treatments, the hotel has an urban zen feel. The restaurant and bar, Americano, is a financial district happy hour hot spot.

The Hotel Palomar. Centrally located on the corner of 4th and Market Streets, the Palomar is an old school, artful retreat. The restaurant, Fifth Floor, has one of the city's most buzzed about chefs, David Bazirgan.

The Argonaut. In Fisherman's Wharf, the Argonaut is a charming hotel with a fun nautical theme and epic views. The cable car line starts across the street and each afternoon from 5-6 pm, there's a complimentary wine happy hour.

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