Where to Stay in San Francisco – 5 Great Luxury Hotel Choices

San Francisco
San Francisco and Alcatraz views from a room at the Fairmont San Francisco (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

In these days of travel bans and quarantines, it’s still possible to fantasize about travel and plan future trips. If you find yourself stuck in the house, why not start planning that next luxury adventure. Assemble a list of bucket-list destinations and start working on the details for your future visit.

San Francisco, since the days of the Gold Rush, has had a great selection of luxury hotels. Hotels with sumptuous rooms and suites, a wide range of amenities and activities and fine dining options on-property. The city’s relatively compact size and excellent public transit system, including its iconic cable cars, make it easy to navigate even without a car.

Fairmont San Francisco
The impressive facade of the Fairmont San Francisco (photo by Freddy Sherman)

The Fairmont San Francisco

Perched atop Nob Hill, historically the Beverly Hills of San Francisco, the Fairmont San Francisco rises to the level of one of America’s true palace hotels. Accommodations are available either in the historic original building (more ornate but without sensational views) or the 1970s tower, which offers unmatched views of the entire San Francisco skyline and surrounding areas.

Fairmont Suite
Epic views from the Fairmont Suite at the Fairmont San Francisco (photo by Freddy Sherman)

If your pockets are especially deep, go for the hotel’s best (and one of the world’s largest and most expensive) suite, known as The Penthouse. It’s really a mansion built on top of the hotel, the space was created at the direction of a very rich guest in the 1920s who wanted an urban mansion on Nob Hill but with all the services and amenities of the city’s best hotel.

When you’re ready for some fun, the Fairmont is home to the Tonga Room, a legendary tiki bar. While sipping on tropical drinks, you can enjoy a band that plays in a boat that floats on a giant swimming pool while several times an hour there’s an indoor rain shower complete with thunder and lightning.

Tonga Room
A band performs on a boat in the middle of a giant swimming pool at the Tonga Room (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

The Fairmont San Francisco
950 Mason Street
fairmont.com

InterContinental Mark Hopkins

Located directly across the street from (and under the same ownership group as) the Fairmont, the Mark Hopkins is another San Francisco landmark. The rooms and suites boast some amazing views as the hotel sits on the very top of one of San Francisco’s hills.

InterContinental Mark Hopkins
Guest room view at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins (photo by Freddy Sherman)

Make a trip up to the Top of the Mark, the hotel’s famous restaurant on the top floor. With floor-to-ceiling windows and almost 360-degree views of the city, it’s an amazing space. It’s popular for their epic Sunday Brunch and as the destination for special occasions for locals. Almost anyone who grew up in the Bay Area has stories of family events, milestones and gatherings celebrated at the Top of the Mark.

InterContinental Mark Hopkins
999 California Street
intercontinentalmarkhopkins.com

Ritz Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco’s ornate facade (Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Hotels)

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Housed in a the city’s former mint building (appropriately) the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco is also on Nob Hill, but not quite at the top. The hotel is also located right at the intersection of two cable car lines (with a stop right outside the hotel) and it’s a short walk from Chinatown.

The hotel deftly combines a modern luxury design with its ornate surroundings, the building itself is over 100 years old. Some of the sumptuous rooms and suites have great views. The Ritz-Carlton has a fantastic spa and is the home of Parallel 37 restaurant which showcases the amazing fresh, locally-sourced ingredients available in the Bay Area.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
600 Stockton Street
ritzcarlton.com

Fairmont Ghirardelli Square
Raising a glass of wine to a view of Alcatraz from the Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

The Fairmont Heritage Place Ghiriadelli Square

You’ve probably never heard of this Fairmont as it’s one of their Heritage Place fractional ownership properties. You can buy the units outright or buy a fractional share of them. You can also book this fantastic luxury hotel alternative by the night like any other Fairmont hotel. The difference is the units are all fantastic luxury apartments.

The luxury hotel is part of the city’s iconic Ghirardelli Square, occupying some of the original chocolate factory buildings. It allows you to stay inside one of the city’s best-known and best-loved landmarks.

The units, some of which boast amazing bay and Alcatraz views, are apartments with multiple bedrooms, chef’s kitchens and fantastic TV and sound systems. The hotel has luxe amenities like a gym, maid service, concierge service, room service from the surrounding restaurants and a huge deck and fire pits overlooking Ghirardelli Square and the bay.

You read more about this special hotel here.

Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square
900 North Point Street
fairmont.com

Ghirardelli Square
The iconic Ghirardelli Square sign, the Fairmont is right beneath it (Photo by Freddy Sherman)
Four Seasons San Francisco
A guest room with a great view at the Four Seasons San Francisco (Photo courtesy of Four Seasons)

The Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco

This uber-luxury hotel is on Market Street in the heart of the downtown area. Although a bit rough at night, during the day it’s filled with some of the city’s best shopping. You’re also close to several great museums including SFMOMA.

The hotel curates some amazing experiences for guests. You can spend a day wine-tasting in Napa with the hotel’s sommelier or do lunch and a movie at Francis Ford Coppola’s Cafe Zoetrope and Zoetrope Studios.

The hotel’s MKT restaurant is popular for its farm-to-table, locally-sourced California cuisine. The hotel’s health club is also one of the best in the city and has a large membership of local residents.

The Four Seasons, San Francisco
757 Market Street
fourseasons.com/sanfrancisco

Read more of Freddy Sherman’s take on travel on his Go World Travel Blog. You can also follow more of his adventures on his luxuryfred Instagram feed, his personal blog and on his YouTube channel.

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