The Best SF Hotel for Every Conceivable Holiday Visitor
Family stopping in? Keep your space to yourself — and book them a room.
Some people like a full house at the holidays, and don’t mind a blood relative or two snoring away on the pull-out couch.
For the rest of us, there are options, the best of which you’ll find immediately below. We have somewhere to stash everybody, from your hipper, younger siblings to your grandparents, who might not mind a night or two in a four-poster bed at one of the city’s oldest and most elegant bed-and-breakfasts.
For your sister and her boyfriend, the tattoo artists: Phoenix Hotel, Tenderloin
Definitely the best non-exorbitant option with a pool heated to 85 degrees in the Tenderloin: Step inside and you won’t be surprised to know this hotel is part of the Bunkhouse group, better known for the Austin Motel and the Hotel San José in Texas. A superior choice for those who’d rather take a guided rock ‘n’ roll tour of the city than a holiday chorale performance.
For the twentysomething cousins: Hotel Zetta, Union Square
Over 30 and we’d send them to the Proper Hotel, but for younger set, pick Hotel Zetta. The Mission’s just a couple BART stops away — depending on their tolerance for holiday-related mirth, Union Square really is a better choice, with ice skating literally around the corner at the “Safeway Holiday Ice Rink presented by Alaska Airlines.” (That’s right.) Should they forget their Secret Santa, there’s a holiday pop-up shop from “farm-sourced holistic skincare line” Benedetta in the lounge.
For those fortysomething cousins who’d conference-call their way through Christmas dinner if they could: The Battery, Embarcadero
The Battery is equal parts luxe hotel, private members club, and networking event for the upwardly mobile. Unsurprisingly, their holiday offer events are particularly on point, like an “Ugly Sweater Holiday Social”, Hanukkah Happy Hour, and “Crowd Working for the Holidays” with S.F. comedian Kaseem Bentley.
For your Main Line aunt and uncle: The Palace, Financial District
Not a hotel for those new-money folks like the Four Seasons, the elegant Palace has a rich history: Opened in 1875, it (sort of) survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, reopening in 1909. It’s mindful — and enamoured — of its past (check out those Austrian-glass chandeliers in the Garden Court for proof) but also not averse to the occasional nip ‘n’ tuck (all rooms fully reno’d in 2015). Holiday offerings range from Christmas Day brunch to tea with Santa Claus.
For your parents: The Lodge at the Presidio, The Presidio
Some parents might prefer the see-and-be-seen style of somewhere like the Ritz Carlton. Other parents, though — especially those coming in from less urban surrounds — might prefer something away from the hustle of Market Street, without resorting to the stuffiness of Nob Hill. If this Goldilocks’ porridge approach — not too vibe-y, not too stuffy; not too opulent, not too rough — sounds right, consider the magnificent Lodge at the Presidio, with Golden Gate views and plenty of parkland. Along with all that peace and quiet, they can expect Christmas decorations and baked treats.
For the family with teenage kids: Virgin Hotel, SoMa
The new Virgin Hotel is cool but not so cool that it’s going to stress anyone out — plus, it’s basically next door to a ton of family-friendly attractions, like SFMoMA and Yerba Buena, and, in the warmer months, a short walk to Oracle Park. Similarly, the holiday ice skating is a quick walk — but the overall vibe is arty, rather than full-on commerce.
For the grandparents: Chateau Tivoli, Western Addition
Trust the Shohet family — which has owned this bed and breakfast since 1997 — to treat your senior members with the care and attention they deserve. Once the home of the founder of the Tivoli Opera House, the building has stood for over 100 years; the rooms here have all the comforts of a beautifully appointed Victorian home — including four-poster beds, clawfoot tubs, and Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper.
See the world from your inbox.
Sign up for The Journey, our Travel newsletter.