PHOTO: Queen Anne Hotel

The Best Hotels for a Classic San Francisco Experience

Michele Bigley | January 04, 2018

The news may harp on San Francisco being a tech hub, but some of the city's finest hotels herald another era. Sure many of these properties might be housed in aged structures, but the majority of SF's historic hotels lather on the luxury. Searching for a classic experience? Here are our favorite tributes to San Francisco's rich history.


Chancellor Hotel on Union Square

Why it made the list

Constructed for the Panama Pacific International Exhibition of 1915, this property is still one of the last standing family-owned properties in the city. Rooms overlook Union Square and might be modest, but you can often score great deals.

Score rooms at this 1915 moderate-sized Edwardian-style hote Read More


San Remo Hotel

Why it made the list

Since 1906 this property has catered to the Italian immigrants who flocked to North Beach at the turn of the century. Decked out in an Old World style, this property manages to feel lived in and elderly without the staleness that often accompanies that designation. Plus rooms are a steal, especially for walkers eager to explore North Beach.

A few blocks from Fisherman's Wharf, this three-story 1906 I Read More


Hotel Majestic

Why it made the list

Built in 1902, this property is the longest operating hotel in the city (this designation is only because the Great Earthquake halted the service of some older properties). Ghost tales abound about this property. Many say the original owner's daughter haunts room 407. Also worth exploring is the Butterfly Lounge, a hearty collection of these majestic Lepidoptera.

Built in 1902 as a private residence, this five-story white Read More


Queen Anne Hotel

Why it made the list

Originally a girls boarding school, this 1890 Queen Anne Victorian might make you feel like you're staying in a storybook house. Also a member of the famed painted ladies architectural style, this property promises a a dash of class with its tribute to another era. Ghost hunters flock to the property--the former headmistress is said to haunt the halls.

This Victorian mansion promises character and style in a gre Read More


Sir Francis Drake Hotel

Why it made the list

Celebs like Myrna Loy and Barbara Stanwyck once performed in this 1920s property known as a hub for prohibition era decadence. President Ford was almost assassinated as he exited this property in 1975. Today, bellhops dressed as Beefeaters welcome guests to the lobby that features original fixtures throughout.

Beefeater-costumed doormen welcome you into the regal lobby Read More


Hotel Whitcomb

Why it made the list

The former San Francisco city hall--with a basement jail to boot--this 1910 structure has long housed government officials and visiting VIPs. Now the decor pays homage to the past with antique poster beds, and a fabulous chandelier guarding the lobby.

Sleep in the former city government building at this 1910 ho Read More


Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Why it made the list

Since 1875, this property has offered a posh glimpse into San Francisco history. The biggest news from the property came in 1891, when Hawaii's King Kalakaua died in his suite here. Today the luxe Garden Court Restaurant lures lunching ladies and celebratory diners to sit under this grand atrium and delight in the rich history of one of San Francisco's oldest properties. Check out Maxfield Parrish's famed Pied Piper of Hamelin mural in the Pied Piper restaurant.

This landmark hotel—the world's largest and most luxurious w Read More


Westin St. Francis

Why it made the list

Built in 1904, then destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, this new version, often dubbed the "Paris of the west" has guarded Union Square since 1907. While the innards of the hotel have morphed over time, establishing itself as a sleek hub for techies and families, the hotel's signature Oak Room restaurant heralds another era (though woman are allowed to eat there now).

This grande dame, dating back to 1904, remains ever above th Read More


Fairmont San Francisco

Why it made the list

Opening in 1907, this Nob Hill hotel stands like a palace guarding the city. The UN charter was drafted inside this grand dame. Throughout the property, check out relics from the property's history, including parts of the building destroyed in the Great San Francisco earthquake, and an original prohibition bar hidden in the back of the lobby level. Stay in the original building (not the tower) for a more traditional experience.

Dominating the top of Nob Hill like a European palace, the F Read More

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