The Best Hotels in San Francisco

Nob Hill, SoMa, and Ghirardelli Square staples top the list of favorite stays — proving location is key for T+L readers in the Bay Area city.

For a city that’s basically square, San Francisco exudes California cool in every corner of its hilly 46 square miles. Whether you are immersed in the funky arts scene, savoring culinary delights in the country’s oldest Chinatown, or taking in the majestic water views that stretch from the bay to the Pacific Ocean – including from the new 14-acre Presidio Tunnel Tops Park opening this summer – the peninsular destination draws every traveler.

Each year, T+L asks readers for their opinions on the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines and more as part of its World’s Best Awards. Hotels (including safari lodges) were rated on amenities, location, service, food and overall value. Depending on location and amenities, properties were classified as city hotels, resorts or safari lodges.

Although there are many different neighborhoods in San Francisco, from the Mission and Golden Gate Park to the Castro and North Beach, T+L readers settled on three top addresses within a three-block radius in Nob Hill. The high-rise neighborhood, which one reader called one of the city’s “cleanest and safest,” not only offers great Bay Area views, but is also convenient because of its proximity to Fisherman’s Wharf to the north and Chinatown and the Financial District to the east. Hotels in the area are also among the city’s most iconic, particularly the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel (#2), known for its tropical Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, and the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco (#3), with its 19th-floor Top of the Mark Sky Lounge.

Rounding out the top choices were two other nearby hotels: the St. Regis San Francisco (No. 4), in SoMa and a short walk from the Union Square shopping center, and the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square (No. 5), located between Fort Mason and Irish coffee institution Buena Vista.

1. The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Suite at The Ritz-Carlson, San Francisco
Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlson, San Francisco

Sitting atop Nob Hill in a 1909 Neoclassical historic building with Ionic columns, the 336-room hotel radiates with grandeur from afar. Inside, the vibe changes to an urban resort, where the staff offers personable service called “impeccable” and “well-run” by T+L readers. For a city center hotel, the 400- to 475-square-foot rooms and 600- to 1,980-square-foot suites are spacious, decked out in soothing tones of blues and grays. Also on site: wine tastings at JCB Tasting Lounge, California specialties served up at the Lounge, and an inner courtyard for a breath of fresh air right in the heart of the city. But ultimately, it’s all about the Ritz-Carlton’s prime location — with a cable car right at its doorstep.

Score: 93.22

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2. The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel

Lobby at Fairmont San Francisco
Courtesy of Fairmont San Francisco

Score: 91.88

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3. InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

Exterior of InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco
Courtesy of InterContinental Mark Hopkins

Score: 91.33

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4. The St. Regis San Francisco

Metropolitan Suite Living Room at St. Regis San Francisco
Courtesy of St. Regis San Francisco

Score: 89.90

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5. Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square

Exterior of Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco
Courtesy of Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square

Score: 87.25

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