Thinking about visiting San Francisco, but not sure where to stay? With so many neighborhoods to choose from, it can feel daunting. Which areas have the best restaurants? Where are the cutest boutiques? What’s the best hotel? MyDomaine editor and San Francisco transplant Hadley Mendelsohn says it’s good to stay near downtown, and then explore the various neighborhoods during the day, which is super easy since San Francisco is a small city and easy to get around.
According to the San Francisco Travel Association, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, and Chinatown were the leading neighborhoods visited in recent years. Ahead, we’ve broken down the seven areas to stay in San Francisco and our favorite hotels in each one.
SOMA, Potrero Hill, and the Mission
Where to Stay: Hotel VIA is a new addition in San Francisco. The sleek hotel also debuted a rooftop bar, which hotel guests have access to. Personally, I think a rooftop bar is a good reason to book a stay.
138 King St., San Francisco
Fisherman's Wharf and the Marina
This is one of the most frequented areas in San Francisco (read: There are a lot of tourists). That being said, it’s a perfect location if you want to be steps from the pier, eat seafood by the pound (pro tip: carry hand wipes), visit Alcatraz, check out Ghirardelli Square, and have clam chowder from a sourdough bread bowl at Boudin Bakery.
Where to Stay: Check into Hotel Zoe—pronounced Zoey (not like Rachel Zoe). At the entrance of this boutique hotel is a row of bikes available for guests to take out. Inside, picture a palette of neutral tones adorning the guest rooms with bathroom lighting beauty bloggers would approve.
425 North Point St., San Francisco
Embarcadero and North Beach
Neighboring Fisherman’s Wharf and Telegraph Hill is Embarcadero. Here, you’re nearby the Coit Tower and The Filbert and Greenwich Steps, which are great hikes if you feel like breaking a sweat (have you seen how steep this city is?). Stop by the Ferry Building, where you can shop the farmer’s market, dine on delicious fare, and take the ferry to Marin County.
Where to Stay: Located along the waterfront is Hotel Vitale, a Joie de Vivre hotel. Take in views of the Bay Bridge from many different room types, including circular suites and studios with private terraces, at this eight-story hotel.
8 Mission St., San Francisco
Nob Hill and Russian Hill
This central location to Chinatown, Union Square, Russian Hill, and Pacific Heights is iconic to San Francisco. Imagine charming townhouses perched on hilltops. Walk or take a quick cable car ride to Chinatown to check out the restaurant, China Live, and enjoy endless shopping in Union Square.
Where to Stay: Located at the top of Nob Hill is San Francisco landmark InterContinental Mark Hopkins with a breathtakingly beautiful façade. Expect old-world luxury inside.
999 California St., San Francisco
From here, visit the iconic five-story Peace Pagoda in Japantown, dine at State Bird Provisions in Filmore, and go shopping at Pacific Heights. It’s also a five-minute drive from Hayes Valley, which is one of our favorite neighborhoods for boutique shopping. Don't miss Rand + Statler boutique and Arlequin Café & Food-to-Go (the outdoor patio is a hidden gem).
Where to Stay: Located at the intersection of Japantown, the Fillmore, and Pacific Heights is The Kimpton Buchanan. The glamorous hotel is a nod to Japanese design, and its minimalist design makes us want to reread The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
1800 Sutter St., San Francisco
Presidio Heights and Pacific Heights
We love this area of San Francisco for its proximity to outdoor activities. It offers the Batteries to Bluffs hiking trail, and it’s near Baker beach, which is one of our favorites.
Where to Stay: The newly renovated Hotel Drisco is a must-stay in this neighborhood, which is also where you’ll find “Billionaire’s Row.”
2901 Pacific Ave., San Francisco
A 30-minute ferry ride from The Embarcadero is this San Francisco Bay Area city, and as one of our favorite places in Marin County, it’s ideal for relaxing.
Where to Stay: The 64-guest room Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa is the place to stay in Sausalito. The beautiful boutique property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has welcomed storied guests, including Pink Floyd. It also overlooks the Bay.
Sailing on the Bay is a must!