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March 23, 2012 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Going to San Francisco for two nights! Where should I stay?

I'll be finding myself in San Francisco for two days in the last weekend in April and I'm not sure where to stay! I'm totally unfamiliar with the city (hence the going, actually) so I'm not sure what neighborhoods to look in for hotels.

Where are the walkable areas, basically? Nice restaurants, not suburban, casual bars... that sort of thing. I'm Brooklyn-based so that's definitely my comfort zone, but I'm not entirely aiming to find the Brooklyn of SF.
posted by greenland to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How much do you want to spend? That's the biggest question.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:08 PM on March 23, 2012

Best answer: Here are some places I've stayed:

Inn San Francisco is deep in 'the mission' and walking distance to castro, potrero hill, or soma (though maybe not at night). It is a converted victorian mansion, has a gorgeous stately parlor in which breakfast is served and a bitchin' swedish-style communal hot-tub in the garden. The neighborhood is chock-full of hispanic and boho culture. This is one of my favorite places to hang in the city, but it doesn't fit the hilly/cable-car/looking out on the bridge stereotype (though there is a fantastic view from thier roof).

This mini-chain of motels (click on sister properties) were a fantastic value imho and range from the neighborhoods of north beach, cow hollow and the marina. It puts you near stuff like pier 39 and fort mason. Cow hollow as a neighborhood its-self was nice with an upscaley feel and lots of restaurants and shops; but I didn't feel like it was particularly central or accessible to other neighborhoods.

I've also stayed at the Hotel Carleton, which is lower nob hill/tenderloin/polk gulch. There are quite a few hotels in this area. Polk gulch is a lively bar scene, the tenderloin has a lot of asian culture and didn't seem as dangereous as times past. It's pretty central. But to me the attraction of the area was more the convenience (I was seeing a show) than the neighborhood.

All this from the point of view of someone who formerly lived in the area and was going back to visit, ymmv, ianyTravelAgent, etc. bon voyage!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 4:34 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I stayed in Union Square when I went on my SF trip. There are a ton of hotels there - not exactly cheap, but I reckon you'll be able to find a deal on hotels.com or other site.

Union Square was great because I felt like most things were either within walking distance or I could just take public transit. It's touristy, but venturing around was very easy.
posted by SoulOnIce at 4:35 PM on March 23, 2012

Haven't tried airbnb in SFO, but got hooked on it when I planned trips to Hawaii and Portland. Make sure you click on the Map button and just peruse the offerings in the vicinity of where you want to stay.

All depends on you. I kinda dig an unorthodox accommodation. Some prefer the Ramada.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 4:55 PM on March 23, 2012

The closest thing to Brooklyn in SF is the Mission, which has no hotels you'd want to stay at. If you can afford it, get something in Union Square, which is a major transit hub and take BART or Muni to 16th or 24th & Mission. (basic city safety rules apply: keep your hand on your wallet/purse, look like you know where you're walking and you'll be fine)
posted by smirkette at 4:55 PM on March 23, 2012

Best answer: Union Square is tourist ground zero, but for good reason. You can walk from there to a lot of the city's prettiest neighborhoods including Chinatown, Nob Hill (posh buildings on steep hills), North Beach, Tenderloin, with the Mission, Castro, Lower Haight, and Haight Ashbury all not that far away even on foot. The Tenderloin is known for being a little sketchy, though it's been years since I lived in SF, and even then it was known as a great place for nightlife, cheap food, and cheap hotels, so this might be an option.

If you type something like "Chinatown, San Francisco" into Google Maps it will helpfully outline the neighborhood. Google knows things about SF it doesn't know about other cities yet.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:06 PM on March 23, 2012

P.S. The Tenderloin is not everyone's cup of tea. I really liked it there, but it's definitely scruffy and a little dangerous in spots. SF has really sharp rich/poor divides in neighborhoods; the vibe can switch quickly from one block to the next. Union Square is actually close to some really rough patches, and many a tourist has been sold a hotel room in the Tenderloin that was advertised as Union Square.

For something a bit 'nicer' aim more towards Union Square, Nob Hill, or especially North Beach which is a really lovey and beautiful part of town
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:18 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I stayed at the inn, was great, I got a great room w fireplace, tub and balcony aswell. Depends if you want to stay in the mission or elsewhere.
posted by Under the Sea at 5:24 PM on March 23, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, all! Looks like Union Square is the walking/transit hub I'm looking for.
posted by greenland at 5:46 PM on March 23, 2012

The Mosser on 4th/Market is lovely.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:22 PM on March 23, 2012

I've stayed in a variety of places. I'd rec a b&b or one of the more boutique hotels, if you're into that. Not sure what your budget it, but a few cheap-ish ($100-140 range) but not gross or unsafe (IMHO) personal recs, both really different but you can read more about them in the reviews/sites: Hotel Carlton in the Tenderloin, and the Willows Inn in the Castro.
posted by manicure12 at 7:54 PM on March 23, 2012

We stayed at the Good Hotel in the SoMa district (I think?) a few years ago and it was pretty convenient. It was close to transit and not far by bus/streetcar/BART to wherever we wanted to go.
posted by elizeh at 8:53 PM on March 23, 2012

I also recommend Union Square. I take the subway from SFO, walk up Powell Street to my favorite hotel, The Chancellor. you can walk everywhere from there. The pier, Chinatown, Japantown, the painted ladies, Lombard street. I usually pay $99 a night. It's a cute boutique hotel. Keep the windows open at night to listen to the trolley! Have fun!
posted by dietcokejunkee at 9:22 PM on March 23, 2012

I got some good advice in this thread. I stayed at the Hotel Opal, which was very pleasant.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:57 AM on March 24, 2012

Two places somewhat near Union Square which I've found acceptable, yet not too pricey are the Grant Hotel and for a splurge, The Commodore (couldn't find a website for the latter).

I'm not entirely aiming to find the Brooklyn of SF
Oh, I think the equivalent to Brooklyn would be Oakland, not the Mission.

posted by Rash at 10:05 AM on March 24, 2012

A few years back I stayed at the Union Square Plaza Hotel. It was clean, safe, really cheap, in the heart of things, and they offered to hang onto our luggage after checkout so we could wander the city without having to drag giant backpacks around. Certainly no-frills, but you don't go to San Francisco to sit in your hotel!
posted by jabes at 11:04 AM on March 24, 2012

As someone who has lived in SF and Brooklyn, I'm not sure Union Square is really what you're looking for, actually. It's sort of like staying in Herald Square - a bland shopping district in the heart of the commercial part of the city, expensive restaurants and bars, etc. If you're looking for something with more of a Brooklyn vibe, or even more of a downtown Manhattan vibe, I'd say try AirBnb and look for something in the Mission/Castro/Noe areas, or even near Alamo Square/Hayes Valley, which has easy access to downtown. If you want to be more accessible to charming coffee shops and neighborhood bars with delicious cocktails and nice restaurants without tourists, rather than the sort of standard tourist attractions, I'd avoid downtown/Union Square.
posted by judith at 11:33 AM on March 24, 2012

I'll second manicure12's recommendation for the Willows Inn. It's a super charming and reasonably-priced b&b near Market and Castro. Very walkable, and close to transit. It's definitely my first choice.
posted by girlstyle at 4:38 PM on March 25, 2012

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