The best luxury hotels in the eclectic city of San Francisco
San Francisco deserves all the attention it receives as a tourist hotspot. Like every coastal city, its prime location on the West Coast of the United States means it not only enjoys breezy springs and balmy summers, but also postcard-worthy views and some of the freshest seafood the country has to offer. If that isn’t a formula for a perfect vacation, we don’t know what is.
But San Francisco is a city that just keeps giving. When you’re not strolling across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, driving down the world’s windiest road, or shucking fresh oysters by Fisherman’s Wharf, the Bay Area is a veritable playground where people from all over the world gather to revel in design, science, or tech.
The city is a blissful wonderland with something for everyone, from geeky entrepreneurs to free-spirited hippies, and its accommodation options reflect just that. Here, we’ve sussed out the best luxury hotels in San Francisco to elevate your stay at.
The Battery might be designed as a space for San Francisco’s creative elite to connect, but the private member’s club has something else up its sleeves – or more accurately, on its top three floors.
Situated on Jackson Square within a former candy factory, the 14-room property credits local interiors maven Ken Fulk for its dashing good looks inside. The designer isn’t stranger to high profile projects in the Silicon Valley — his portfolio includes the home of Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom too. Several of the original factory details such as the exposed brick walls and timber pillars are retained, only now paired with plenty of leather furnishings and a befitting nautical theme.
Being a guest (or ‘resident member’ as they call it) means you get full access to all the top-notch facilities there — think a well-equipped fitness centre, the speakeasy-style Musto Bar and an even more covert The Green Room. Food is equally stellar, with Chef Nicolai Lipscomb of three-Michelin-starred Arzak and World’s Best Restaurant El Cellar De Can Roca at the helm of the kitchen.
Hotel Drisco is an invitation into San Francisco’s high life, not only because it’s flanked by the grandiose mansions of Pacific Heights, but also because it’s filled with an old-world sensibility that’s quite rare today
It is in this Edwardian hilltop hideaway that staff are still dressed in gold waistcoats and actual keys are used to access room. It’s perched a short walk away from The Presidio national park and the Roman-style Palace of Fine Art, but there’s always something about plush goose-down duvets, fine-bone china tableware, and in-room noise-cancelling sound machines that make it hard to leave.
Also converted from an unused factory (this time a fruit cannery), boutique hotel Argonaut sees 252 on-theme rooms and suites that are appropriate for its waterfront location. Here, exposed red brick walls and wooden planked floors set the tone for the maritime-inspired interiors.
Select rooms offer a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, so if you want the quintessential SF experience, be sure to request for those. Like every respectable restaurant there, sustainable seafood is at the heart of the Blue Mermaid — expect favourites such as creamy chowders served fresh in a sourdough bread bowl.
Located quite conveniently by Fisherman’s Wharf, Hotel Zephyr is an zany alternative to the many chain hotels in the vicinity. Nautical themes reign here as well, obvious from the Moby Dick quotes painted inside the lifts and a giant octopus and Popeye mural. Still, everything is artfully designed here so you don’t feel like you’ve entered a children’s playground.
The property has more than 360 rooms and suites, each decked generously with even more maritime details — think blue bedspreads spelling out S.O.S, ship pattern-inspired light fixtures, nautical maps, and porthole windows. A handful of notable restaurants lie within a 10-minute walk, so this is one of the best spots to set sail on your San Francisco adventure from.
Set within a flat iron-shaped building, San Francisco Proper Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel that’s anything but ordinary. Its Mid-Market location — a part of downtown Market Street that’s being gradually gentrified — means that you’ll see the less touristy side of the city.
The ‘grande dame of West Coast interior design’ Kelly Wearstler was tasked in transforming this historic property, which she did with her mish-mash of classic and modern styles (read: made for Instagram). Rooms are beautifully curated to reflect the hotel’s eclectic nature, with bachelor pad-worthy bathrooms that offer Aesop toiletries.
San Francisco Proper Hotel
The Phoenix hotel is inarguably San Francisco’s coolest hotel and can trace its roots to the Caravan Lodge in the 1950s which counts Rock n’ Roll royalty such as Kurt Cobain and David Bowie as guests when they performed in the city.
Relaunched by Liz Lambert just last year, the Phoenix features 44 immaculate guest rooms and a courtyard swimming pool which happens to be one of only two which hold landmark status in the United States. Add to that the eccentric neon art and lights, band stickers “wall of fame”, and great vinyl music selection and you’ll find the Phoenix hits all the right notes.