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San Francisco: Best area to stay in??
Old 07-14-2010   #1
Jamie123
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San Francisco: Best area to stay in??

I'm going on a trip to California with my girlfriend in late August/early September and am looking at some hotels to stay at. We'll be staying in San Francisco for a couple of days and I'm wondering what area of the city I should look at for hotels.
So my question to you SF residents is this: If you were vistiting SF for a couple of days only, what area would you want to stay at? And please look at it from a tourist perspective.

Thanks in advance everyone!
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Old 07-14-2010   #2
wilonstott
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North Beach
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Old 07-14-2010   #3
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SF is a quite small city, with interconnected bus, streetcar, and subway systems, all of which can be mapped and tracked in real time on your cell phone, so you can plan your connections to the minute, find the nearest stop, etc.. The reason I say this is that it doesn't really matter which part of the city you stay in, you are always have quick access by foot or transit to the entire city. In addition to hotels, you might consider the extensive listings of B&B's throughout the city, at all price levels. You can find what's available online. My preference is to stay at a B&B in a quiet neighborhood (e.g., Cole Valley) with easy bus and streetcar access to more busy parts of the city.
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Old 07-14-2010   #4
ampguy
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If it's your first trip, and/or if you're with older folks, I'd recommend around Union Square, but North of Market.
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Old 07-14-2010   #5
Jamie123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_n View Post
SF is a quite small city, with interconnected bus, streetcar, and subway systems, all of which can be mapped and tracked in real time on your cell phone, so you can plan your connections to the minute, find the nearest stop, etc.. The reason I say this is that it doesn't really matter which part of the city you stay in, you are always have quick access by foot or transit to the entire city. In addition to hotels, you might consider the extensive listings of B&B's throughout the city, at all price levels. You can find what's available online. My preference is to stay at a B&B in a quiet neighborhood (e.g., Cole Valley) with easy bus and streetcar access to more busy parts of the city.
I appreciate the advice but I'm really looking for the best areas to stay at, not the cheapest. We're only there for a couple of days so a quiet neighborhood is not what I'm looking for. Like I said, I'm looking at this from a tourist perspective. If I were to stay there for an extended period I'd certainly consider this.
Planning connections with a cell phone is not really an option as the providers in Switzerland (where I'm from) have such high roaming charges that a few minutes of web usage overseas could easily run you $50 or more. Or does SF have free wifi?
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Old 07-14-2010   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
If it's your first trip, and/or if you're with older folks, I'd recommend around Union Square, but North of Market.
Although I sometimes feel like I'm getting old, I suppose at 26 I'm not quite yet considered to be one of the older folks . My girlfriend's 23 so she's should be fine aswell

Anyways, Union Square and North Beach, as has been suggested by wilonstott, sound good. I'll have a look at what I can find there. Thanks guys!
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Old 07-14-2010   #7
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Hi Jamie,
I stayed in the Westin St. Francis in Union Square, it's a great location, but the hotel was not that great really, but a friend of a friend stayed here:

http://www.argonauthotel.com/

and said it was very nice.

Garry
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Old 07-14-2010   #8
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Hi Jamie,

I stayed in The Chancellor Hotel off Union Sq last August when I was in SF for a few days work. It's neither the most expensive/deluxe nor the cheapest but I found it to be very well situated. A short walk through the Chinese and Italian districts had me down by the waterfront, where some friends live. The travel links seemed pretty impressive to me whilst I was there and it is a small city with all of the joys of a smaller city.

By the way, if you like good beer seek out some of the micro brewery bars. I had the very English assumption that American beer was pretty much only the big names that are exported around the world. This is very much NOT the case. Infact I think the American micro breweries are making some of the best beer I've had in years.
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Old 07-14-2010   #9
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Union Square is okay. Great if you need to run to Macy's for something.

I never really have to.

Stay at Hotel Boheme at 444 Columbus.
Right off of Washington Square.
No cooler neighborhood in San Francisco.
Have Breakfast at Mama's. It's around the corner. Get there before 8.
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Hotel Triton
Old 07-14-2010   #10
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Hotel Triton

Although I haven't been there in a couple of years, I recommend the Triton, near Union Square and the dragon gate to Chinatown. It's a small hotel, upscale but not extravagant, funky and arty but not weird. (No connection other than being a happy customer.)

http://www.hoteltriton.com
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Old 07-14-2010   #11
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I wasn't trying to direct you to cheapest alternatives: there are some quite luxurious B&B's. Rather, if you stay at a tourist hotel near Union Square or North Beach in August or September, you will mostly be in contact with other tourists and travelers, not San Franciscans. At a B&B, you have contact with local residents, with their suggestions about what to do. Likewise, taking transit puts you in contact with residents. About the transit data, most SF bus kiosks have real time info about arrivals, and if you have a WiFi-capable cell phone, most coffee shops have free WiFI that gives you access to the same transit data. No need to turn on the phone roaming. BTW, if you like coffee and coffeeshops, check out this site for coffee in SF:
http://www.coffeeratings.com. You can find best coffee (espresso) by neighborhood.
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Old 07-14-2010   #12
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North Beach. Look for one of the smaller, family run hotels, and you'll be right next door to Chinatown. You shouldn't have any trouble finding one. Expect to pay a premium this time of year. This is the area where the night life is happening, and plenty of great restaurants (try the cheese and garlic pizza at North Beach Pizza). During the day head out to the Mission district. Best coffee houses in San Francisco. I never cared for those yuppie/tourist trap places in North Beach.
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here
Old 07-14-2010   #13
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here

Homewood Suites by Hilton-SFO/North

2000 Shoreline Court, Brisbane, CA, 94005
Phone: (650) 589-1600

gorgeous view of the bay, the best hotel we stayed in during our entire 25 day CA trip and also the one with the best free breakfast.

the best part-i only payed $85/night through hotwire.

try it out, guarantee u won't regret it.

dan.
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Old 07-14-2010   #14
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Nob Hill and/or around Union Square is where I prefer to stay as former resident. A few blocks from Powell St cable cars. The heart of San Francisco. I walk everywhere, except Coit Tower, Twin Peaks, Cliff House and Golden Gate Park where you need private or public transportation. Washington Sq I like too and also close to cable cars.

Much depends on your budget and what days of the week. Make reservations early as possible.
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Old 07-14-2010   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
If it's your first trip, and/or if you're with older folks, I'd recommend around Union Square, but North of Market.

Always north of Market, the farther north the better.

EDIT: Having grown up in S.F. I can tell you most everybody is from somewhere else. Dont expect to meet too many "local folk."
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Old 07-14-2010   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_n View Post
I wasn't trying to direct you to cheapest alternatives: there are some quite luxurious B&B's. Rather, if you stay at a tourist hotel near Union Square or North Beach in August or September, you will mostly be in contact with other tourists and travelers, not San Franciscans. At a B&B, you have contact with local residents, with their suggestions about what to do. Likewise, taking transit puts you in contact with residents. About the transit data, most SF bus kiosks have real time info about arrivals, and if you have a WiFi-capable cell phone, most coffee shops have free WiFI that gives you access to the same transit data. No need to turn on the phone roaming. BTW, if you like coffee and coffeeshops, check out this site for coffee in SF:
http://www.coffeeratings.com. You can find best coffee (espresso) by neighborhood.
Understood, but it sounded a little like a New Yorker suggesting to stay in Brooklyn because it's cheaper than touristy Manhattan and has good subway connections
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Old 07-14-2010   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilonstott View Post
Union Square is okay. Great if you need to run to Macy's for something.

I never really have to.

Stay at Hotel Boheme at 444 Columbus.
Right off of Washington Square.
No cooler neighborhood in San Francisco.
Have Breakfast at Mama's. It's around the corner. Get there before 8.
Sounds good. I'll look into it.
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Old 07-14-2010   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
If it's your first trip, and/or if you're with older folks, I'd recommend around Union Square, but North of Market.
As an S.F. native who occasionally stays overnight in the City (I now live in Sacramento), I tend to agree. I've stayed at the Hotel California on Geary, near Union Square and almost across the street from the American Conservatory Theater, and can recommend it. It's a Best Western property, an older hotel that's been completely renovated, and the decor is charming. The immediate neighborhood is a bit sketch, but you're close to key sites downtown.

My other strong recommendations are the Griffon Hotel or the Harbor Court on Steuart Street (I think) very close to the Embarcadero. Great location, close to the Ferry Building. A terrific restaurant, Boulevard, is on the corner. Rooms at the Griffon are small, but well appointed, and it's a great location for seeing SF's waterfront. Highly recommended.
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Old 07-14-2010   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbarnes View Post
Although I haven't been there in a couple of years, I recommend the Triton, near Union Square and the dragon gate to Chinatown. It's a small hotel, upscale but not extravagant, funky and arty but not weird. (No connection other than being a happy customer.)

http://www.hoteltriton.com
i'll second the triton, it's a safe neighborhood and right around the corner from north beach, chinatown, union square and the embarcadero.
if money isn't an issue check out the marc hopkins, sir francis drake, or the fairmont.
i wouldn't stay anywhere south of market or west of powell, neighborhoods are pretty hit and miss. also, staying in the suburbs will be really dull unless you have a car.

good luck.

bob
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Old 07-14-2010   #20
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There are apps you can download if you use a smartphone. If your phone has GPS it's even better. No matter where you stay I'm sure those apps come in handy. Many apps can store data like map, transportation system, etc on the phone so you don't have to use data. I used apps that I can see where to get on/off trains based on the destination and where you are using GPS and built-in map when I went to Paris. If you can tell us what phone you use, probably people here can recommend some apps.

And as someone said, SF is full of wifi spots. All Starbucks, most of independent coffee shops, even the entire Union Square are free wifi enabled.

As for the area to stay, north of market is a safe bet. If you get close to east, close to market is fine, if you go west side, farther north is better. Avoid the are in north of market marked 'Tenderloin' on the map.
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Old 07-14-2010   #21
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For a first time tourist I'd definitely stay near Union Square. The St. Francis or the Hyatt on Union Square would be my recommendations.

Again, for the first time tourist, this location puts the cable cars right outside your front door (literally). You also are in the middle of the shopping district, a short walk from the water and Ferry Building and just blocks from Chinatown.

If you return again and have already seen "the sights" then there are some great other places to stay, as outlined above.

Regardless of what you choose, enjoy!!

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Old 07-14-2010   #22
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Union Square is a good central location. Fisherman's Wharf
is a good place for photo ops if you like people pics and
boats, etc.
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Old 07-14-2010   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie123 View Post
Understood, but it sounded a little like a New Yorker suggesting to stay in Brooklyn because it's cheaper than touristy Manhattan and has good subway connections
Nope, I'm a SF native, and love almost all the neighborhoods of the city. I like different things from travel perhaps than some of the other posters. To me, it's contact with local life on the streets and buses and coffeeshops that's most interesting. Chinatown, Union Square, the Embarcadero, the GG Bridge, are pretty standard tourist fare, if that's what you want, but you asked what a local would recommend. Since you are European and in your 20's, I think that neighborhoods like the Mission, Hayes Valley, Russian Hill, and the like will be more lively and edgy and different for you, and more memorable than the cable car tourist zone. For a real experience, ride the N-Judah Muni streetcar out to Trouble Coffee near the ocean (Judah near 46 Ave), and chat for a while with the local guys who come and go.
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Old 07-14-2010   #24
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Since I assume you have a car, I would not stay in San Francisco, but in the neighborhood. For example Half Moon Bay or similar. Good food and hotels, and easy to get into the city, which - I find - gets tiring after a while. In particular if you are used to European cities.

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Last edited by ferider : 07-14-2010 at 07:29.
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Old 07-14-2010   #25
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I've heard good things about the Hotel Boheme, although I've never stayed there. If you're looking for a place near Union Square, another possibility is the Hotel Monaco if you're a fan of the Kimpton Hotel chain. It's also near the Powell St. BART station. Very convenient.

The NY Times Sunday travel section had an article several years ago on smaller SF hotels, which you may be able to find online.

Having said all that, I'd still stay down by the Embarcadero and near the Ferry Building.
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