Two towers connected by glass-enclosed sky bridges compose the top 11 floors of San Francisco’s third-tallest building. There are spectacular panoramas from every room, and windows open so you can hear the “ding ding” of the cable cars some 40 floors below. All rooms have Egyptian-cotton sheets, two kinds of robes (terry and waffle-weave), and terry slippers. The mezzanine-level restaurant, Silks, earns rave reviews. 222 Sansome St. 154 rooms, 4 suites. (photo, right)
A cheery 1910 beaux-arts facade and snappily dressed doormen welcome you into the plush lobby, with its French inglenook fireplace and vaulted ceiling with murals of World War I–era planes and hot-air balloons. Rooms are full of flair, with vivid stripes and colors, Chinese-inspired armoires, canopy beds, and high-back upholstered chairs. The ornate Grand Café and Bar serves a blend of French and Californian cuisine. 501 Geary St. 181 rooms, 20 suites.
Grant Plaza Hotel
Amazingly low room rates make this hotel a find for budget travelers wanting views of the striking architecture and fascinating street life of Chinatown. Small, modern rooms are sparkling clean, with newer, slightly more expensive digs on the top floor and quieter quarters in the back. Even if you’re not on the top floor, take the elevator up anyway to view two large, beautiful stained-glass windows. 465 Grant Ave. 71 rooms, 1 suite.
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Literary and artistic creativity are celebrated at this stylish place named after writer Kenneth Rexroth. Shelves of antiquarian books line the 1920s-style lobby lounge, where the proprietors often host book readings and roundtable discussions. The charming, lobbyside Study has two high-tech workstations and a collection of vintage typewriters. 562 Sutter St. 92 rooms, 2 suites. (photo, right)
Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
On floors 5-17 of a skyscraper, this luxurious hotel is sandwiched between multimillion-dollar condos, elite shops, and a premier sports-and-fitness complex. Elegant rooms with contemporary artwork and fine linens have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens, the bay, or the city. Take the elevator to the vast Sports Club/LA, where you have free use of the junior Olympic pool, full-size indoor basketball court, and spa services. 757 Market St. 222 rooms, 55 suites.
This landmark hotel was the world’s largest and most luxurious when it opened in 1875. Completely rebuilt after the earthquake and fire of 1906, the splendid hotel has a stunning entryway and the fabulous belle epoque Garden Court restaurant. Rooms, with twice-daily maid service and nightly turndown, have 14-foot ceilings, traditional mahogany furnishings, and marble bathrooms. The Pied Piper Bar is named for its delightful 1909 Maxfield Parrish mural. 2 New Montgomery St. 518 rooms, 34 suites.
Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
This hotel is a stunning tribute to beauty and attentive, professional service. All rooms have featherbeds with 300-thread-count, Egyptian cotton Frette sheets and down comforters. Club Level rooms include use of the Club Lounge, which has a dedicated concierge and several elaborate complimentary food presentations daily. The renowned Dining Room has a seasonal menu with modern French accents, and afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge is a San Francisco institution. 600 Stockton St. 294 rooms, 42 suites. (photo, right)
It’s a tribute to nautical chic — anchors, ropes, compasses, and a row of cruise-ship deck chairs find their way into the lively lobby decor. Spacious rooms, many of which have a sitting area with a sofa bed, have exposed-brick walls, wood-beamed ceilings, and whitewashed wooden furniture that evokes a beach mood. Windows are open to the sea air and the sounds of the waterfront, and many have unimpeded views of the bay. 495 Jefferson St. 239 rooms, 13 suites.
San Remo Hotel
A few blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf, this three-story 1906 Italianate Victorian was once home to longshoremen and Beat poets. A narrow stairway from the street leads to the front desk and labyrinthine hallways. Rooms are small but charming, with lace curtains, forest-green-painted wood floors, brass beds, and other antique furnishings. The top floor is brighter. About a third of the rooms have sinks, and all rooms share scrupulously clean black-and-white-tile shower and toilet facilities with pull-chain toilets. 2237 Mason St. 64 rooms with shared baths, 1 suite.
Union Street Inn
With the help of precious family antiques and unique artwork, innkeepers turned this green-and-cream 1902 Edwardian into a delightful B&B. Equipped with candles, fresh flowers, wineglasses, and fine linens, rooms are popular with honeymooners and romantics. The Carriage House, with its whirlpool tub, is set off from the main house by an old-fashioned English garden with lemon trees. 2229 Union St. 6 rooms.