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10 Coolest Hotels in San Francisco | Travel the World in a Single City

Explore the Golden City's diverse neighborhoods by checking into one of these 10 coolest hotels in San Francisco.

The fog was heavy as we crossed the San Francisco Bay from Oakland by ferry. There was an eerie stillness with only an occasional fog horn sounding or sea bird calls. As we approached the Bay Bridge, the fog lifted. San Francisco greeted us with the morning sun covering the seven hills, rising sharply from the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the Golden City, 21st century and Victorian architecture stand side-by-side. Green parks dot the landscape. In the bay, sailboats and kayaks mingle with cargo ships. Ferries shuttle commuters and visitors. Tour boats circle Alcatraz. Cruise ships take on passengers and provisions. Fishing boats come and go with the tide.

But what really defines San Francisco is its diverse neighborhoods, from the Latino roots of the Mission District to the dim sum restaurants of Chinatown and beyond. It’s in these neighborhoods that you’ll find some of the finest and funkiest hotels on the planet, each property with its own way of making your visit a unique and memorable experience.

Find your base, suited to your tastes (and budget), in this list of the 10 coolest hotels in San Francisco.

Watch From The Rooftop Lounge

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If you’re attending a show or a Giants game at Oracle Park, Hotel Via in San Francisco’s South Beach neighborhood is the place to stay. Hotel Via’s ‘guests-only’ 12th floor Rooftop Lounge has an expansive vista of Oracle Park, the San Francisco cityscape, and San Francisco Bay. The lounge has indoor and outdoor seating, private cabanas, fire pits, heat lamps, and bar service with your favorite libation.

Downstairs on King Street, Bar Via is the neighborhood bar for meeting locals and hotel guests. Chef Leo Batoyon creates small plates from seasonal ingredients to complement the libations served with a view of Oracle Park through 19-foot-high windows.

Guest rooms feature a minimalist, contemporary design with Oracle, bay, and city views. If you need something, you can use the KEYPR Guest Experience—a cloud-based concierge accessible in your room or the lobby.

Two blocks away, an incubation park of repurposed cargo containers hosts a changing array of new restaurants getting their start in a pop-up environment serving fast and easy cuisine, cold beer, and California wine. The start-up businesses change frequently, but expect fusions of different ethnic cuisines like French and Korean or Mexican and Chinese. You’ll also find American standards such as hamburgers and hot dogs served with a new twist like pretzel buns, or as wraps.

Via

San Francisco, 5.2 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.9 Excellent (884 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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Cooking with a View

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Cavallo Point, the Lodge at the Golden Gate, is a luxury hotel with a cooking school onsite. Food is central at this historic property at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The teaching kitchen is 1,200 square feet. In this sunny, professionally equipped space, take classes like Date Night Cooking; Eat it Raw: Seafood; Cooking from the Farmer’s Market, and Unlocking Chinese Flavors.

Enjoy meals made exclusively from local and seasonal ingredients. Dine in the Murray Circle Restaurant for refined Northern California cuisine, or Farley Bar for small plates. Covolo also hosts outdoor culinary experiences like their Summer BBQ Series. Classic picnic-style dishes such as burgers, grilled salmon, chili, and salads, are paired with local beer, wine, and picnic-perfect cocktails.

Accommodations are built with the highest of environmental sensitivity. Solo travelers, couples, and multi-generation groups can choose hotel rooms, suites, or two-bedroom family accommodation. Each has a fireplace and heated floors for chasing away the famous San Francisco chill.

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Cavallo Point Lodge

Top rated
Sausalito, 1.8 miles to Sausalito Bay
9.0 Excellent (820 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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Michelin-Starred Cal-Indian

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Fresh ingredients from farms around the Bay Area are combined with traditional Indian spices creating Cal-Indian cuisine at Taj Campton Place. With two Michelin Stars, Chef Srijith Gopinathan creates innovative cuisine for the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant and for the bar and bistro. Dishes like Truffle Naan, Day Boat Scallops with dosa and Turmeric, or spice pots with tamarind chutney are defining Cal-Indian, a blend of the best from East and West.

For a special occasion, indulge in a private wine dinner in one of three private dining rooms. Chef Srijith and the Wine Director will assist in creating a three of four-course menu and wine pairing from their cellar of over 2000 bottles of local and imported wine. As with all food at Taj, your choice of menu items will be fresh, local and seasonal with selections like poached lobster, Alaskan Halibut, Spring Lamb, or Mishima Reserve Wagyu Beef.

Taj is casual and welcoming in elegant surroundings. The rooms and suites have spa-like limestone baths with deep soaking tubs and showers. Guests can choose from a bath menu featuring aromatic bath salts. Enjoy a long soak and a glass of bubbly are a day of exploring the city.

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Taj Campton Place

Top rated
San Francisco, 4.1 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.9 Excellent (1622 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.5 / 10
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The Coolest Cool on the Hill

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“I left my heart in San Francisco….” You can almost hear Tony Bennett’s mellow voice and his love song to San Francisco when you enter The Fairmont. Perched on Nob Hill, Fairmont is historic, iconic, and very, very cool.

The coolest place in The Fairmont is The Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar opened in 1945. The setting is straight out of a 40s island romance movie.’ Since its opening, the Tiki Bar has been maintained, restored, and updated, complete with a lagoon and floating barge for musicians, tiki huts for guests, and intermittent tropical storms with rain, thunder, and lightning.

One of San Francisco’s most popular attractions, locals pack the house for Mai Tais, Zombies, Planter’s Punch, and other old-school umbrella drinks made from vintage recipes. Polynesian fusion with nods to California, Chinese, Japanese, and American fare are served family-style.

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Fairmont San Francisco

Top rated
San Francisco, 3.8 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.8 Excellent (7627 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Art in the Heart

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Hotel Zetta San Francisco is an art installation. On the walls, hanging from ceilings, and hidden in stairwells, Hotel Zetta’s contemporary art ranges from vibrant graffiti murals to salvaged and reused fixtures. Zetta is celebrated for recycling, repurposing, and transforming the left behind, unused, and overlooked spaces into art.

The Playroom is a meeting space/game room where you can ‘work hard & play hard.’ Take it easy with a selection of pool tables, ping pong, shuffleboard, multiplayer console games, and Giant Jenga.

If you’ve wondered what working in a Silicon Valley startup is like, hang out at Salvage & Rescue. The lobby bar is part art gallery, part interactive lounge, a social hub, and home to a two-story Plinko game. Guests and locals mingle here for drinks and food. Relax on sofas, plugin and catch some R&R.

Guest rooms have Jawbone Big Jambox with Bluetooth streaming. G-LINK connectivity connects Smartphones to TV for streaming and viewing. Complimentary tech amenities include Oculus Go VR headsets and access to a Virtual Reality Room, and a Borrow Bar that includes laptops, Wii, and GoPro.

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Zetta San Francisco

Top rated
San Francisco, 4.2 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.8 Excellent (2062 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.1 / 10
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In or Out Atop the Flatiron

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Inside or out, Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge at San Francisco Proper Hotel is one of the hottest and coolest seats in the city, 120 feet above Market Street.

Atop a 114-year-old Flatiron building, Charmaine’s serves up seasonal craft cocktails and bar snacks around fire pits and heaters on the patio. City and bay views, green-scaping and ambient lighting give off a relaxing city vibe. Inside, intimate seating vignettes, fireplaces, and ceiling-to-floor windows make for a cozy escape from the weather.

On the ground floor at Villon’s, cocktail wizards are crafting original and classic libations such as Manhattans and Martinis or one of their own modern creations, Earthquake Proof. It’s made with Tequila, Crème de Cacao, Lime, Coca-Cola and served with a salty rimmed glass.

For Sunday Brunch try The Asian Art Museum, two blocks from Proper. Garlic Prawn Noodle Bowl and Ricotta Avocado Toast are perfect with Bubble Tea. After brunch, wander the museum, join a drop-in art class, or attend a talk or lecture.

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San Francisco Proper

San Francisco, 4.1 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.8 Excellent (383 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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Love You, Love Your Dog

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Hotel Nikko San Francisco is your best bet for a pet-friendly hotel in San Francisco. You’ll meet Buster, the Hotel Nikko Dog, and can schedule a hangout with him on the guest-only rooftop Pet Terrace.

Feinstein’s at the Nikko is the entertainment center in Union Square. Without leaving the hotel, you can experience live music and comedy in the lobby-adjacent night club. Sip a cocktail, munch on Asian-influenced shared plates or indulge in a contemporary Japanese prix fixe, multi-course dinner while enjoying live entertainment.

Restaurant ANZU is a contemporary Japanese eatery. The menu takes advantage of the region’s bounty, including more than 280 wines. Sushi here is exceptional using the freshest and highest quality seafood. ANZU Cioppino combines snow crab, black cod, salmon belly, and scallops in miso tomato broth for a unique twist on this traditional Italian dish.

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Hotel Nikko San Francisco

Top rated
San Francisco, 4.1 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.6 Excellent (11658 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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San Francisco's Dirty Habit

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Guests and locals alike converge at Hotel Zelos‘ Dirty Habit, one of San Francisco’s hottest indoor/outdoor lounges. Chef Thomas Weibull leads the team for Zelos’ Modern American menu with notes of Northern Europe and Asia. Dishes are designed for sharing in the film noir-inspired dining room or the heated outdoor patio.

Pair a small plate or two with a cocktail made from one of Bar Manager, Raul Ayala’s, curated collection of hundreds of brown spirits from around the globe. Dirty Habit’s Punch Bowls, with names like Some Like It Hot and Nectar of the Gods, are meant to be shared by at least four people. Don’t want to share? Try something from the martini menu featuring classic gin and vodka stylings. Or, order one of their contemporary variations like the Breakfast Martini made with gin, lemon, Cointreau, and house-made orange marmalade.

Zelos’ guest rooms feature a minimalist design with no status quo or cookie-cutter conformity. Bigger than you’ll expect, each room is a spacious, light, and art-filled city retreat.

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Hotel Zelos San Francisco

Top rated
San Francisco, 4.3 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.5 Excellent (3292 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.2 / 10
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Half-Shell, Not Half-baked

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Nothing goes together better than oysters on the half shell and a martini with a twist. Hotel G in downtown San Francisco offers up both in the form of Benjamin Cooper, a cocktail and oyster bar. The mixologists are among San Francisco’s best.

Slurp oysters and sip an adventurous cocktail from some of the best mixologists in the city. Between sips, ask your bartender about Benjamin Cooper, the bar’s namesake. Fact or fiction, the tall tales are entertaining.

Hotel G guest accommodations include rooms, suites, and a 1200-square-foot penthouse. The Grande Penthouse Suite features a private 550-square-foot bay-view terrace, perfect for sipping during the sun set.

From Hotel G, it’s a quick five blocks to Yerba Buena Gardens where you’ll find an antique carousel, bowling alley, ice-skating rink, and play area for the kids. All of San Francisco’s attractions are within two miles of Hotel G. Cable cars, buses and trains are available at the Powell Street Station four-blocks south.

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Hotel G San Francisco

San Francisco, 4 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.2 Very good (2658 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.1 / 10
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Konichiwa

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In San Francisco’s Japantown, The Bar at Hotel Kabuki celebrates Japanese fermentation and distilling arts. Japanese whiskey, sake, and beer are used in craft cocktails, flights, and extraordinary Tea for Two concoctions. Bartenders will help you immerse yourself in Japanese libations, explaining the different methods of production, flavor profiles, and some of the ways to imbibe the elixirs. Feeling hungry? Your server will help you pair your cocktail with small plates or entrees with global influences and Asian roots.

Hotel Kabuki’s guest rooms are peaceful havens where contemporary Japanese design incorporates modern furnishings with Japanese textiles, screens, and art. The motif is apparent throughout the hotel and beyond the lobby where you’ll find traditional Japanese gardens. In the garden, take advantage of the complimentary Meditation Station that includes serene music, guided meditation, and a giant floor cushion.

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Hotel Kabuki San Francisco

San Francisco, 3.1 miles to 49 Mile Scenic Drive
8.2 Very good (4548 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.7 / 10
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Featured photo courtesy of Brianne Siegel, Eyeem