Where To Stay in San Francisco [5 BEST Neighborhoods!]

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San Francisco is the pride and glory of the Bay Area. It’s beautiful Victorian architecture, diverse culture and iconic hills give it an edge over so many other cities.

Its popularity comes at a cost, and San Francisco isn’t the cheapest destination.

That’s why we’ve put together this insider guide for where to stay in San Francisco to help you save money while visiting ‘The City by the Bay’.

Written by our travel experts, we break down San Francisco by interest to help you plan the best possible vacation without blowing your budget.

No matter what you’re looking to do in San Francisco, you’ll be able to find a hotel that’s right for you. Let’s explore our top picks for where to stay in San Francisco.

Table of Contents

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in San Francisco

Where to stay in San Francisco the first time – Nob Hill
Where to stay in San Francisco on a budget – Marina District
Best area to stay in San Francisco for nightlife – Mission District
Coolest place to stay in San Francisco – The Castro
Best neighborhood in San Francisco for families – Fisherman’s Wharf

Where to Stay in San Francisco

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in San Francisco.

Best Budget Hotel in San Francisco – The Mosser Hotel

The Mosser Hotel

The Mosser Hotel is the best budget hotel in San Francisco

This hotel has 166 traditional rooms offering all the essentials to ensure a comfortable stay. It provides a gym, a coffee bar and valet parking. The front desk operates around the clock and the friendly staff can suggest places to visit and provide other tourist information. Breakfast is included.

 

Best Mid-Range Hotel in San Francisco – Hotel Del Sol a Joie de Vivre Hotel

Hotel Del Sol a Joie de Vivre Hotel

Hotel Del Sol a Joie de Vivre Hotel is the best mid-range hotel in San Francisco

The modern rooms at this colourful hotel in Marina District are decorated with spirit and come with a private bathroom and all the amenities you need. There is a gym, an outdoor pool, bicycle rental, a library and a golf course – plenty of amusement. A continental breakfast is served daily.

Is your trip getting close? Jump over to our hotels in San Francisco guide so you’re sure to get great accommodation!

Best Luxury Hotel in San Francisco – The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco

The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco

The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco is the best luxury hotel in San Francisco

This 5-star, luxury hotel is centrally located in San Fran’s Chinatown and features an indoor pool, a sauna, a gym, valet parking, a beauty centre and a car rental desk. Rooms are modern and beautifully styled to guarantee a comfortable stay. Parents will appreciate the babysitting / childminding services available!

 

San Francisco Neighborhood Guide

San Francisco

San Francisco

The city and port of San Francisco is on the peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. It is a hub for both culture and financial business. San Francisco is a chic seaport whose steep streets and an abundance of hills are an icon in themselves. This large city is broken down into 11 districts and further subdivided into many small neighborhoods.

The city provides breathtaking views of one of the world’s greatest bays as well as the Golden Gate Bridge. The city is alive with culture, music, art, and good food. It’s multi-cultural and LGBT friendly. The city was struck by a catastrophic earthquake in 1906, which saw damage to 80% of the buildings. The city has since been rebuilt spectacularly.

Nob Hill is in the centre of the city, and is where you’ll see the famed streets that San Francisco is known for. With so much to see and do here, we recommend this neighborhood to first time visitors.

What was an up-and-coming area is now a fully-fledged happening spot – the Marina District. This is also where you’ll find the cheapest hotels in San Francisco.

The Mission District is the best place in town for nightlife. Pubs and bars line these streets! The Castro is also a happening place by night, and by day has something uniquely cool about it.

Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular, hip, seaside neighborhood with lots of family-friendly activities, upscale hotels and fresh seafood.

San Francisco’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in:

We’ve compiled the 5 best neighborhoods to stay in San Francisco, let’s get started!

Neighborhood #1 - Nob Hill

(Where to stay in San Francisco the first time)

Nob Hill

Nob Hill is our pick for where to stay in San Francisco the first time

Nob Hill is about as central as you can get in San Francisco. This is home to those iconic hills that give San Francisco its charm. Nob Hill is one of the original seven hills, named at the time the city was founded.

Affluent townhouses are accessible by cable car, or legs of steel! Real estate prices have skyrocketed here, even though many homes were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire that ravaged San Francisco.

Nob Hill borders Russian Hill which is another top neighborhood to explore.

Top things to do in Nob Hill:

  • Ride the historic cable cars!
  • Play old school arcade games over craft beer at The Wreck Room
  • Check out what music concerts are on at 1958-built The Masonic
  • Venture into San Fran’s Chinatown and get your fill of dim sum and fortune cookies
  • Pick up classic American deli sandwiches, ice cream and coffee at Cable Car Corner
  • Visit Lombard Street – the most crooked in the world!
  • Learn new facts at the Museum of Ice Cream and Cable Car Museum
  • Practice yoga at MOXIE: Nob Hill – it’ll help recover from your hill climbs!
  • Bar-hop along Polka Street
  • Pair vintage wine with cheese and charcuterie at Amelie San Francisco
  • Visit 1659 Jackson Street. Hanlon House was built in 1881 and moved here after surviving the earthquake
  • Hit the mega-mall in Union Square and get a photo of cute sculpture Hearts in San Francisco
  • Have a picnic in Huntingdon Park and admire the Grace Cathedral

Where to Stay in Nob Hill

Best Budget Hotel in Nob Hill – Nob Hill Motor Inn

Nob Hill Motor Inn

Nob Hill Motor Inn is the best budget hotel in Nob Hill

The numerous facilities this award-winning motel has to offer include an airport shuttle, a tour desk and an express check-in and check-out feature. Of 29 well-appointed rooms there are multiple rooms specially designed for families. There is an on-site restaurant and daily breakfast is included.

 

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Nob Hill – Stanford Court San Francisco

Stanford Court San Francisco

Stanford Court San Francisco is the best mid-range hotel in Nob Hill

These contemporary rooms have air-conditioning and include an in-room safe, a pillow menu, a refrigerator, blackout curtains and a desk. Breakfast is included in the rate and there is both a restaurant and a bar where guests can unwind, as well as a fitness room on the premises.

Let’s make this simple. These are the best hotels in Downtown San Francisco!

Best Luxury Hotel in Nob Hill – Fairmont San Francisco

Fairmont San Francisco

Fairmont San Francisco is the best luxury hotel in Nob Hill

Each elegant room at the 5-star Fairmont San Francisco includes a mini bar and cable/satellite channels, and the bathrooms come with bathrobes and hair dryers. They all have a flat-screen TV, a seating area and movies-on-demand. There is a swimming pool, gym and children’s playground.

 

Neighborhood #2 - Marina District

(Where to stay in San Francisco on a budget)

Marina District

Marina District is our pick for where to stay in San Francisco on a budget

Marina District is west of Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach, and connects to Russian Hill. It offers expansive green spaces, views of the bay as far as the Golden Gate Bridge and the streets are lined with places to eat and shop.

Until the catastrophic earthquake of 1906, the Marina was pretty neglected. Post-Earthquake, the area was revamped in elegant Art Deco style. Now, the Marina District buzzes with millennials and young professionals who call it home.

There’s always heaps going on, and travelers on a budget will be pleased to find cheaper accommodation here. Plus, it’s flat – so get cycling!

Top things to do in Marina District:

  • Visit the Greco-Roman themed performance arts venue Palace of Fine Arts
  • Walk or cycle past the Marina District Lighthouse to the Wave Organ. This remarkable sculpture has 25 organ pipes which are activated by the ocean waves!
  • Mooch around the yachts in the Yacht Harbour and linger in the Little Marina Green Picnic Area for sunset
  • Take a turn along Chestnut Street for a range of restaurants, cafes and bars
  • Fort Mason will eat up a hefty chunk of your tourist time and for good reason. This 13-acre parkland contains monuments, museums, residences and cafes to explore
  • Walk along the Aquatic Pier for views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz
  • Pick up seasonal produce including fruits and nuts at the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market and take your snacks to the Marina Green
  • Chill on Crissy Field East Beach

Where to Stay in Marina District

Best Budget Hotel in Marina District Pacific Heights Inn

Pacific Heights Inn

Pacific Heights Inn is the best budget hotel in Marina District

The rooms at the Pacific Heights Inn have wireless internet access and all the necessities for a comfortable stay. They are fitted with a private bathroom with shower, TV with cable/satellite channels and a telephone. There is a 24-hour reception and a tour desk. Clean, simple and cheap!

Have some time in San Francisco? These are our favorite day trips from San Francisco!

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Marina District Lombard Inn

Lombard Inn

Lombard Inn is the best mid-range hotel in Marina District

Lombard Inn has 48 stylish rooms that are filled with all the essentials to ensure an enjoyable stay in San Francisco. Rooms are spacious with comfort in mind. There are a range of services including a concierge,  24-hour reception and a tour desk. An airport shuttle is also available.

 

Best Luxury Hotel in Marina District – Cow Hollow Inn and Suites

Cow Hollow Inn and Suites

Cow Hollow Inn and Suites is the best luxury hotel in Marina District

The rooms are large with comfortable beds and a clean, modern private bathroom. The hotel has a 24-hour reception, luggage storage and a concierge. The hotel is surrounded by some of the city’s most popular shops, restaurants and cafés. There is also a restaurant and bar on the premises.

Insider Guide! These are the absolute BEST times of the year to visit San Francisco!

Neighborhood #3 - Mission District

(Best area to stay in San Francisco for nightlife)

Mission District

Mission District is our pick for the best area to stay in San Francisco for nightlife

South of Nob Hill and west of Mission Bay, is the Mission District – home to San Francisco’s most diverse nightlife, and its oldest building!

You’ll find cheerful dive bars frequented by locals, live music joints and swish cocktail bars. Mission District has a Hispanic legacy, so be sure to treat yourself to as much Latino food as you can handle!

The area is very cool, up-and-coming and pops with vibrant street art.

Top things to do in Mission District:

  • Visit the oldest building in town: Misión San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores)
  • Have a craft cocktail with some eclectic small plates at Trick Dog, in an old warehouse
  • Dig into European-Californian dishes and watch an outdoor flick at Foreign Cinema
  • Get groovy with a retro cocktail at 1960’s themed The Beehive
  • Play over a pint in Bender’s where there are pool tables and a jukebox – over to you to pick the tunes!
  • Get your morning fix at Maxfield’s House of Caffeine
  • Dance the night away to DJ eats at Bruno’s nightclub
  • Explore the murals that line streets such as Clarion Alley
  • See the latest arthouse flick at the Roxie Theater
  • Have a cozy chat over a Belgian beer at The Monk’s Kettle
  • Eat street style at Latin American restaurant El Techo
  • Spend a lazy afternoon in the sun at Mission Dolores Park
  • Sweat out last night’s toxins at Yoga to the People
  • Take a workshop at Woodcut Maps and take your own little handmade memento home

Where to Stay in Mission District

Best Budget Hotel in Mission District – Hotel Tropica

Hotel Tropica

Hotel Tropica is the best budget hotel in Mission District

Hotel Tropica provides 40 comfortable rooms, each with complimentary wireless internet and a refrigerator. They are also equipped with a hairdryer and a microwave. There is a range of other amenities available to guests of the hotel, such as a 24-hour reception. Perfect location for exploring the local nightlife.

 

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Mission District Nineteen 06 Mission

Nineteen 06 Mission

Nineteen 06 Mission is the best mid-range hotel in Mission District

This comfortable bed and breakfast is located moments from San Francisco Armory, local restaurants and nightlife options. The property has 30 bright rooms offering all the essentials to ensure an enjoyable stay, such as private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, daily breakfast and an outdoor terrace. Rooms are ambient and comfortable.

 

Best Luxury Hotel in Mission District Inn San Francisco

Inn San Francisco

Inn San Francisco is the best luxury hotel in Mission District

Situated close to 16th Street Mission Bart Station, this Victorian bed and breakfast is a convenient base for those wanting to discover Mission’s nightlife. It offers complimentary Wi-Fi, and also features a golf course, swimming pool and a Jacuzzi. Bedrooms retain the Victorian spirit and have a private bathroom.

 

Neighborhood #4 - The Castro

(Coolest place to stay in San Francisco)

The Castro

The Castro is our pick for the coolest place to stay in San Francisco

The Castro is a small district in Eureka Valley, west of The Mission. Two long streets, Market Street and Castro Street, form the spine of this neighborhood – converging at Castro station for the trolley service.

Streets here are lined with picturesque Victorian residences, but it’s the thriving LGBT community that makes this area tick. Once you clock the rainbow banners proudly blowing out from the streetlights, you know you’re in The Castro. This area simply oozes coolness.

Top things to do in The The Castro:

  • Learn about 100 years of Bay Area GLBT history at the GLBT Historical Society Museum
  • Spend a night at The Castro Theatre, a 1920’a cinema which stages offbeat films, musical movie sing-alongs and drag shows
  • Unleash your inner big-kid at the Seward Street Slides! Take cardboard with you to hit maximum speeds
  • Take in city panoramas and follow the hilly hiking trails of Corona Heights Park
  • Venture just easy of the neighborhood to explore the 64-acre park which houses the Twin Peaks, two hills which form the highest viewpoint in San Fran
  • Shop in the many thrift stores that you’ll find in the neighborhood. Start with Local Take, which celebrates San Fran
  • Hang out in some of the neighbourhood’s gay bars! Hi Tops, The Edge, Moby Dick and QBar will get your evening started
  • Check out the bronze sidewalk memorial tributes to noteworthy LGBTQ individuals along the Rainbow Honor Walk
  • Settle into Philz Coffee with a book or some people-watching

Where to Stay in The Castro

Best Budget Hotel in The Castro – Beck’s Motor Lodge

Beck's Motor Lodge

Beck’s Motor Lodge is the best budget hotel in The Castro

Beck’s Motor Lodge is close to Buena Vista Park and is minutes on foot from The Castro Street Station. Rooms provide a refrigerator, Wi-Fi internet and a coffee maker. Other facilities available to guests include laundry facilities, a sun deck and free Wi-Fi. The front desk operates 24/7.

 

Best Mid-Range Hotel in The Castro Parker Guest House

Parker Guest House

Parker Guest House is the best mid-range hotel in The Castro

Parker Guest House has 21 well-appointed rooms that are accompanied by a range of essential amenities to ensure guests have an enjoyable stay. Guests can enjoy the property’s gardens or borrow a book from the on-site library. This guesthouse gives guests the chance to discover the local nightlife.

 

Best Luxury Hotel in The Castro Casa Luna San Francisco The Castro

Casa Luna San Francisco The Castro

Casa Luna San Francisco The Castro is the best luxury hotel in The Castro

This recently refurbished, 4-star property has 3 coveted apartments available. They are fully furnished to a luxury standard and come with fully equipped kitchens and spacious bathrooms.  It provides a fitness centre, a car rental desk and free Wi-Fi. The location is moments from nearby clubs and bars.

 

Neighborhood #5 - Fisherman's Wharf

(Best neighborhood in San Francisco for families)

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is our pick for the best neighborhood in San Francisco for families

A hub for tourists, the Fisherman’s Wharf is suited to all types of traveler but is especially rich in family-friendly potential. It used to be the number one destination for San Francisco’s tourists, but the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island have since claimed the top spots.

Fisherman’s Wharf is located in north-east San Francisco, running shoulders with North Beach. There is heaps to do here – the neighborhood is overflowing with fun attractions which are very well-suited to vacationing families. Plus, there is fresh seafood on every street corner.

Top things to do in Fisherman’s Wharf:

  • Take a boat over to the infamous Alcatraz Island and tour the old prison
  • Explore an original WWII submarine at USS Pampanito
  • Hire bicycles from one of the many rental stores and explore on two wheels
  • Ride the carousel at Pier 39 and frolic with the musical stairs and mirror mazes
  • Teach the kids about San Francisco’s seafaring history at the Maritime Museum
  • Hop aboard the World War II–era naval ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien
  • Go on a whale-watching expedition with San Francisco Whale Tours
  • Eat fresh seafood at Scoma’s Restaurant, Franciscan Crab Restaurant or Lou’s Fish Shack – with views of the Bay
  • Play antique coin-operated games at Musée Mécanique
  • Hire a boat (and a crew) from Bass-Tub and explore the San Francisco Bay
  • Meet the aquatic locals at the Aquarium of the Bay
  • Fill up on delicious pastries and cakes at the many bakeries on Pier 39

Where to Stay in Fisherman’s Wharf

Best Budget Hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf – Holiday Inn San Francisco Fishermans Wharf

Holiday Inn San Francisco Fishermans Wharf

Holiday Inn San Francisco Fishermans Wharf is the best budget hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf

This hotel has 585 unique rooms offering all the necessities to ensure a comfortable stay. Private bathrooms come with a hairdryer and bathtub. Guests can enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool or exercise in the fitness centre. Connecting rooms are available for families. In-room movies are available.

 

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel Zephyr

Hotel Zephyr

Hotel Zephyr is the best mid-range hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf

The air-conditioned rooms at Hotel Zephyr are stylish and provide an in-room safe, flat-screen TV and movies-on-demand. There are also multiple rooms specially designed for families. There is a fitness suite for guests, a games room and a huge terrace to enjoy a drink on.

 

Best Luxury Hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf Argonaut Hotel a Noble House Hotel

Argonaut Hotel a Noble House Hotel

Argonaut Hotel a Noble House Hotel is the best luxury hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf

This hotel provides 4-star accommodation with stylish, contemporary air-conditioned rooms. They have incredible bay views, and each is equipped with movies-on-demand, a mini bar and slippers. Private bathrooms include bathrobes and a hairdryer. Other services include a coffee bar, valet parking, bicycle hire and a spa.

 

Final thoughts on San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most distinctive and unique cities in the United States. It blends culture, history and diversity with bags of character. From its sweeping vistas atop its famous hills to its wealth of old buildings and it’s love of good food – everyone will find a reason to smile in this colorful city!

To recap our travel guide, the Marina District is our top choice for where to stay in San Francisco. This neighbourhood has come along way since its pre-earthquake days. There’s fresh seafood and views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus, it’s close to Nob Hill and Russian Hill!

Our top pick for the best hotel in San Francisco is the Hotel Del Sol a Joie de Vivre Hotel thanks to its great location, and chirpy, bright design, all at a budget-friendly price. There’s even a pool for those hot SF days! You seriously won’t find a better place to stay in San Francisco.

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About the Author Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.