Budget hotels in San Francisco
April 8, 2014 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm headed to San Francisco for a week at the end of the month. Work will reimburse up to $190 per night for a hotel. I really want to stay downtown for easier access to restaurants, bars and nightlife. I'm fine with driving to and from the worksite. Which hotel(s) would you recommend?
posted by grateful to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I go to San Francisco every year for a conference and the last few years used AirBnB and loved it. The conference is at the Moscone Center and I am always able to find something within about 1/2 mile walk to there for around $100/night.
posted by source.decay at 10:53 AM on April 8, 2014

San Francisco is expensive! In your position, I have actually rented a place through AirBnB. I've stayed on Nob Hill, usually, in fairly nice apartments, though that's not exactly the hopping neighborhood (which I was fine with). I enjoyed having my own space and a kitchen. I don't mind not having daily cleanup. So if you're open to hotel alternatives, that's where I'd look.

On preview, what source.decay said.
posted by ethidda at 10:54 AM on April 8, 2014

I used Hotels.com to find a spot and ended up at Hotel Metropolis for a conference a few years ago. It was pretty inexpensive and charming. I did share a bathroom with some other guests, but honestly never laid eyes on anyone else on my floor. The reviews look like the quality has stayed pretty high for the price. It was centrally located, right on the Market St. cable car line and walkable to Chinatown, Union Sq, etc.
posted by goggie at 11:00 AM on April 8, 2014

I've never used AirBnB but I've had great luck with the similar VRBO in San Francisco.
posted by hungrybruno at 11:06 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The price for hotels in SF varies widely based on the time of year and what kind of events are going on in the city. Without the dates you'll be needing a room for it's almost impossible to really help you with specific hotel recommendations.

That being said - I was traveling to SF for years and had excellent luck with hotels on Hotwire.com. I always selected a 4-5 star place and narrowed down the areas I was comfortable with and often wound up in great hotels. On one trip I even stayed at the Westin St Francis right on Union Square.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:02 PM on April 8, 2014

Also the Hotel Metro. It's close to downtown, in a hip neighborhood close to everything.
posted by prambutan at 12:02 PM on April 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding Hotel Metro. It's not "downtown" per se but it's basically smack dab in the middle of the city in walkable distance to several busy neighborhoods and lots of bars and restaurants. My friends stayed there recently and said it was clean, charming, and cheap.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 12:04 PM on April 8, 2014

Hotel Metro/Metro Hotel was definitely very friendly, but the rooms (or the room we stayed in) was very minimal, and I could barely turn around in the shower.

The staff was super nice, however!

I've heard parking in SF is awful - we used Uber the whole time we were there in January, and it worked out really well.
posted by needlegrrl at 12:04 PM on April 8, 2014

I highly recommend the Nob Hill Motor Inn. Good news, if you're driving in, parking is FREE! Here are the Trip Advisor Reviews.

Right now rates are around $130 per night.

I love the location, Van Ness and Pacific, easy to catch the 45 at Union and Polk, that'll take you downtown. Or drive if you like!

The rooms are pretty big and have a mini-fridge and a microwave. Polk street is right there, and full of little shops, cafes, bars and donut shops. Hell, there's a steak house across the street and a cheese shop steps away from the door. (Sourdough, salamis, cheese....arrraaagghhh.)

I cannot recommend this place enough. It's not right downtown, it's BETTER!

Have a great time!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:24 PM on April 8, 2014

I'm fine with driving to and from the worksite.
Don't forget to factor in the cost of parking your rental car while you are in the city.

If your job site is actually within SF and not down in Silicon Valley, then you may be much better off ditching the car and working with public transit. BART from SFO to downtown is easy, and the MUNI busses will take you almost everywhere.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:34 PM on April 8, 2014

So the bars and nightlife downtown ... aren't really all that great. It can really be kind of a ghost town. You'd be a lot better off with an AirBnb in the Mission or Lower Haight. Even Cole Valley is more entertaining.
posted by dame at 3:52 PM on April 8, 2014

If you're looking for nightlife, I'd stay in Union Square before I'd stay Downtown, though as Dame mentioned, you're not going to get a San Francisco experience in either place.

Be aware that what some hotels call "Union Square" is actually the Tenderloin. Nope, nope, nope. (Someone may defend the Tenderloin and attack me, but just take my word for it and don't do it. I'm on the edges of the Loin all the time to go to events, and it's not worth the hassle to stay there.)

If you do stay near Union Square or in SOMA, the local parking garages are often significantly cheaper than hotel valet parking (as in, half the price). TripAdvisor is a great resource. I'd rely on it for reviews.

Also, parts of the Mission east of Mission Street can be sketchy, so don't just blindly pick an AirBnB place just because it's in the Mission.

Unless parking at your job is free, I'd stay near the worksite and use transit or walk to get there and then use the car/transit to go do stuff. You're going to pay the full parking fee twice per day if you're parking at both your hotel and your worksite. This could easily be $70 per day.
posted by cnc at 4:42 PM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ditto that prices will vary dramatically depending on when you go. I was recently in SF and stayed for a weekend at the Hotel Union Square for about $160/night, and I thought it was extremely charming. The neighborhood is not super exciting (chain shops and mediocre food/bars) but it's right next to the Powell Street BART/Muni stop, so you have pretty easy access to anywhere in the city.
posted by naoko at 8:37 AM on April 9, 2014

Just came back from San Francisco over the weekend and for $160 all in, I stayed at the Royal Pacific It was pretty bare bones, but it included free parking (value about $25 per day) and free wifi. Within 15 minutes, you're in walking distance of the Embarcadero and the Financial District. Chinatown is around the corner and literally, so is North Beach. Room was large and comfy. Yes, it's an old motel but I didn't need anything fancy for something literally I only stayed in to sleep. I'd do it again.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:41 AM on April 14, 2014

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