Where to stay in San Francisco?

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Whenever we have traveled abroad, I’ve been interested to see how how many establishments tout their TripAdvisor status. For years, while traveling, I’d try to make snap judgements about restaurants based on which guidebook stickers they displayed in their windows, but the TripAdvisor award still feels like sort of a new one.

Clearly those restaurants and hotels who’d earned distinction from users were particularly proud of the accolade—displaying it prominently, but I’m always curious to see how the recommendations translate more locally—say, in nearby San Francisco.

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The top five hotels in San Francisco, per TripAdvisor, are Hotel Drisco in Pacific Heights, followed by Loews Regency, Omni SF, The Inn at Union Square, and the Alise—all close to Union Square.

Personally, I can’t vouch for a single one! In general, my theory is usually to look at the #2 pick. Sometimes the #1 is at the top because it’s the best value (cheapest) and sometimes because it’s the most luxurious (sort of an obvious stand-out). #2 is often the hidden gem. But in this case, I’d love to stay in Pacific Heights (though it is also the priciest.)

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I get asked where to stay in San Francisco fairly often, and I’m always sorry I can’t offer a very researched opinion. When we’ve stayed overnight—which is rare—we’ve generally gone for budget or gone the AirBnB route and based our choice on neighborhood (like that time we stayed in the Mission). But I’ve had a nice night at Hotel Vertigo in Nob Hill when I needed to attend a conference at the pricier Fairmont. And Aron and I recently stayed at the Hotel Buchanan, at the intersection of the Fillmore and Japantown, and would return.

I’ve heard good things about most of the Joie de Vivre brand of hotels in town—but especially Hotel Vitale on the Embarcadero. Also, Hotel Zoe, a new boutique spot near Fisherman’s Wharf, and Hotel Via, another new spot but in the South Beach neighborhood—with a rooftop bar. And of course, there’s Sausalito, just 10 minutes across the bay. Friends recommend Casa Madrona or—for a spa-like getaway, Cavallo Point—army barracks turned luxury lodge at the foot of the Golden Gate bridge.

Do you have a tip on where to stay in the city? How do you choose a hotel? 

P.S. Things to do in San Francisco.

[Photos of city are ours. Images of hotels via Hotel Drisco and The Inn at Union Square, respectively.]

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