Most visitors to San Francisco are initially confused as to where about is best to stay for their trip. Fortunately, San Francisco is a fairly small city with good transport infrastructure so the simple answer is anywhere there really isn’t a bad place to stay.
But of course some good choices are better than other so this guide is designed to help you decide what is the best area to stay in San Francisco for you. We will run you through the different districts with their pros and cons to help you decide Where to stay in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Peninsular has a fairly basic layout. At the heart of it are Union Square and the downtown area surrounding it. In the north is the fisherman’s Wharf Area.
Union Square / Downtown
Most hotels are centred around Union Square and the Downtown area. Being in the heart of the City has many advantages and really very few disadvantages. That said it’s not always the most inspiring place to stay. You are unlikely to get anything in the way of a view or hotel grounds to relax in.
However, the Hotel is not normally the actual focus of a City break and a Hotel in the heart of the City gives you easy access to most things. Of course, there are great transport links from here out to any of the more distant attractions that you would want to visit.
Dining options are Numerous but more Chain type restaurants than some of the more trendy eateries of San Francisco. You are also a stone’s throw from China Town so you can alway try some of the best “western style” Chinese food in the world.
Being in the most populated area of the City Parking can be at a premium so check your hotel can cater for that at a reasonable cost if you are planning on having a car.
Moving away from the Centre North Beach offers plenty of options for staying nearer the coast. Quieter and much less built up North Beach can offer more tranquil stay However it’s still very much in the thick of things.
Being the Italian Quarter means there are plenty of restaurant options especially if you enjoy Italian food. One of the plus points of North Beach is its proximity to Fishermans wharf and its multitude of seafood restaurants. Meaning you will never be stuck for something to eat.
Transport to most other areas of the city is still very convenient from North beach. It may mean a trip to Union Square first but generally, you can get anywhere you may want to go very easily.
The Marina District is a charming district a bit further out on the hills overlooking the bay. While dining options and transport links are a little thinner on the ground it is much less built up. This often means Hotels offer free parking. An option much more restricted in the more built up districts.
Prices are also a little more competitive here. It’s the perfect choice for anyone wanting to rent a car during their stay.
The majority of hotels are clustered around the above districts however there are plenty of other options in the remaining district. Soma has a number of hotels and these offer fantastic dining options. There are a few places in more residential parts of the City offering a more “authentic” experience. You can always stay further out however, we can’t think of any really good reason to do that.
We tend to book our hotels either in North Beach, to be near fisherman’s wharf, or at Union Square right in the heart of things. Both offer excellent positives. However, hotels in the marina district do offer better parking options should you want a hire car. As we normally only hire a car when we head out of San Francisco, We don’t tend to find parking an issue.
Tripadvisor lists over 250 hotels in the San Francisco Area. And it would be quite a task to rate that many different hotels to try and give a fair answer to that question. The competition in the City is quite fierce. Truly bad Hotels will be run out of business, so whatever hotel you choose should be of a decent standard. We feel it’s far more important to pick the best area so you can really enjoy the City…As that’s why you are here not to review the inside of a Hotel room.
Find a hotel in the District you like and check the online review on sites such as Tripadvisor. Take with a pinch of salt as there will always be some people who just love to complain. And book it. We can’t guarantee the best hotel, but we can promise the City outside is FANTASTIC.
Best place to Book
There are a seemingly infinite number of different booking sites out there. Gone are the days where you simply asked your travel agent or rang the actual hotel. Of course, you could still do that if you wished. While the most obvious answer to the question could be to book at the cheapest site, How would you know which is the cheapest? There are a vast number of comparison sites all promising to find you the cheapest room.
For us, there is a fairly simple solution that works 90% of the time. And has some other fairly striking benefits as well. Our preferred booking site is Booking.com. As said 90% of the time we find they are the cheapest. When a Cheaper price is found elsewhere it’s normally an obscure name we don’t really trust.
We find the Map view on Booking.com very easy to find hotels in the districts we have want, and it also shows prices so you can quickly narrow down the hotels that suit you before carrying out further research.
Finally, one of the biggest reasons we use Booking.com is the ability to book without charge and cancel for free right up until a few days before the booking. This way you can guarantee the cheapest price. as if you find it cheaper elsewhere (or even on the Booking.com) you can just cancel the original booking and get the cheaper price. We find most of the time this doesn’t happen and we stick with the original booking but there have been occasions where we swap to a cheaper price.
We wrote an in-depth guide to booking hotels on booking.com for New York but the same principles can be applied to San Francisco or any destination whatsoever.
Hopefully, our guide to where to stay in San Francisco has been useful for you. Let us know if you have a preffered area to stay? Or let us know your requirements and we can see where we think would suit you best? Or if you just have anything at all to say. Just drop us a comment. We would love to hear from you.