Top 10 cool and unusual hotels in San Francisco

Ever since the famous counterculture revolution of the 1960s the US city of San Francisco has been associated with free thinkers, bohemians and the unconventional. The city has been at the forefront of many progressive movements from the beat generation to the gay rights crusade. With its leftfield heritage and reputation for being alternative and funky, it’s not surprising that you can find so many unusual hotels nestled amongst its hilly districts. Here is our choice for 10 of our favourite unique and cool hotels in San Francisco (in no particular order)…

Hotel Triton – flamboyant, playful and stylish

Hotel Triton San Francisco

Flamboyant and daringly designed, you can expect a stay in the four star boutique Hotel Triton, San Francisco to be anything but dull. Located only a five minute walk from Union Square, from the moment you step inside the lobby you’ll enter a surreal world filled with tomato soup-coloured walls, purple boudoir-esque furniture and even cute rubber ducks in the bath! With its tireless dedication to creativity the hotel has even allowed celebrities (such as comedienne Kathy Griffin and Grateful Dead musician Jerry Garcia) to design a few of their suites. Many of the rooms offer something a little out of the ordinary, for example in the ‘Haagen Dazs’ themed room guests can indulge in cabinets full of ice cream. Hotel Triton is also known for its hosting of unusual events ranging from nightly tarot card readings to drag queen shows taking place in the lobby.

  • Prices from $150 a night.
  • To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Triton

Hotel Zetta – playful, hip and ultra cool

Hotel Zetta San Francisco

This is a new luxury boutique hotel which all the coolest magazines have been falling over themselves to name as one of the best designed hotels in America. Bright, colourful, arty with enough eccentricity to keep things interesting, the decorators haven’t held back! With a fabulous fusion of the old and new, centrally located Hotel Zetta is housed in a refined neo-classical building but the inside has been completely renovated to feature a clever mix of modern design with plenty of classic and arty details – think reclaimed wood and salvaged antiques sitting alongside swanky modernist sofas and chairs. With a little hint of fun there’s even a two-story Plinko game in the lobby and a second-floor lounge that features billiards and shufflepuck tables. Also expect a free weekly yoga class, In-room spa services and a 24-hour fitness centre – a hip San Francisco hotel that has to be seen to be believed!

  • Prices from $200 a night
  • To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Zetta

The Good Hotel – stylish eco fun

Good Hotel San Francisco

A reasonably priced eco friendly hotel which still knows how to be fun and stylish. Living up to its name, The Good Hotel claims to be one of the greenest hotels in the city and is even furnished with with reclaimed and recycled products and has bathrooms which feature water-conserving toilets. The rooms are hip and quirkily decorated with all sorts of fun features but being green is definitely still the name of the game, expect blankets made from recycled water bottles, light shades made with recycled glass bottles, and even bed frames crafted from reclaimed wood. Other amenities include a cool photo booth, complimentary bike use and if you have a hybrid car, you can park for free!

  • Prices from $99 per night
  • To book, check prices or availability for The Good Hotel

Hotel Rex – old school chic

Hotel Rex San Francisco

Centrally located Hotel Rex is a much loved up-market boutique hotel which perfectly captures the glamour of the 1920’s. The historic building was painstakingly restored to give the feel of an art and literary salon from San Francisco’s past. With dark wood interiors, period furniture and a large collection of interesting objects including antique books and local art, the four star Rex succeeds in creating a stylish old-school feel. The rooms are chic and spacious with custom wall coverings, hand-painted lampshades and an excellent range of modern amenities. Other nice touches include a free nightly wine hour, live jazz and random poetry readings at their on-site Café Andrée.

  • Prices from $160 a night.
  • To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Rex

Phoenix Hotel – very rock n’ roll

Otherwise known as the Rock’n’Roll hotel, this 1950’s style retro motor lodge is said to be where the likes of Little Richard, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead stay when they are in town. A funky oasis located on the edge of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, the classic hotel combines frozen-in-time kitsch with a caring ethos (the Phoenix donates a percentage of their profits to local charities). Fun is high on the agenda at the Phoenix hotel and expect to see murals at the bottom of the pool, quirky statues lining the courtyards and guest rooms decorated with retro bedspreads and original artwork.

  • Prices from $130 a night.
  • To book, check prices or availability for Phoenix hotel

Hotel Diva – chic with a little hint of naughtiness

Hotel Diva

Marketed as a hotel for guests with a big personality, four star Hotel Diva is an affordable modern boutique hotel with a sleek and provocative design. Definitely one of the cooler hotels in San Francisco, decor includes cobalt blue carpet, sculpted stainless steel headboards, luxury bed linens and even a diva walk of fame (which features signatures of past celebrity guests). Friendly and attentive staff aim to cater to your diva demands and the hotel’s central location will base you only minutes away from San Francisco’s best attractions.

  • Prices from $120 a night.
  • To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Diva

Hotel Boheme – pay homage to the beat era

Hotel Boheme

Full of character, this small and intimate hotel captures the Bohemian flair of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Beat era. Thoughtfully put together by award-winning interior designer Candra Scott, Boheme Hotel has attracted many writers, artists, film makers and deep-thinking travellers over the years. All of the 15 rooms are cosy and decorated with strong colours, comfortable cast-iron beds, muslin canopies and period black-and-white photos. Located in Little Italy you’ll also have immediate access to authentic Italian delis and a number of excellent Jazz and Blues Clubs.

  • Prices from $150 a night.
  • To book, check prices or availability for Boheme Hotel

Hotel Vertigo – hip Hitchcock mystic

Hotel Vertigo, cool hotels San Francisco on

A unique three star San Francisco hotel with an intriguing past, the building – located in the posh Nob Hill area – was once a prohibition era speakeasy and then the setting for the Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Vertigo. With a hip new revamp and a name change, the fabulous Hitchcock inspired ‘Hotel Vertigo‘ was then born. With the movie theme running throughout the hotel you’ll find leather wing-back chairs, horse-head bedside lamps and Vertigo branded bathrobes. Contrasting the classic decor is sophisticated in-room technology including flat-screen HD TVs, iPod docking station and free Wi-Fi.

  • Prices from $130 a night.
  • To book, check prices or availability for Vertigo Hotel

Orchard Garden Hotel – eco luxury

Orchard Garen Hotel San Francisco

Reflecting the city’s progressive ideals is this ultra-green modern boutique hotel. The Orchard Garden Hotel is only the fourth hotel in the world to win LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification – this means it adheres to the strictest of environmental standards. The very popular luxury hotel features chemical-free products (including cleaning products), energy-saving rooms and a restaurant which only uses organic and locally sourced ingredients. Other highlights include a state-of-the art fitness centre and delightful rooftop garden. A hotel with a heart and a conscience!

Hotel des Arts – funky art fun

Hotel Des Arts San Francisco

Part hotel, part art gallery reasonably priced Hotel Des Arts is dedicated to featuring the contemporary work of international artists. Located in the city’s creative French quarter, this new boutique hotel promises comfortable modern interiors embellished with more than just a dash of visual stimulation. For the last year some of the world’s top emerging artists have been allowed full artistic control over many of the guest rooms. Materials used in the decorating of the hotel include wall-mounted vinyl records, graffiti, fabrics and three dimensional art work and the result is fabulously eclectic range of rooms! An interesting but affordable accommodation experience.

  • Prices from $90 a night.
  • To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Des Arts

More unique, unusual and cool hotels in San Francisco


If you enjoyed reading about the cool and unusual hotels in San Francisco, we also have posts on cool hotels in Portlandcool hotels in Los Angeles, and quirky hotels in New York

Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 40 countries on trips and living in Dublin, South East Asia and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.


  • Ramona

    31 August, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Love visiting the bay area! One of our favorite hotels to relax near San Francisco is Cavallo Point. It’s right next to the Golden Gate Bridge so the views are stunning.

  • Caroline O'Reilly

    24 August, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I can recommend the Hotel Rex. I stayed there recently after four weeks in corporate hotels in Singapore, Los Angles and Boston. This place was a breathe of fresh air. Great customer service and the wine was a welcome beverage after a long day sightseeing. And the bar is full of local people who will eagerly ask you to join them for a drink and a chat.

  • Chris

    2 August, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I have fortunately had the opportunity to go to San Francisco some years ago with my family. I never actually stayed in the city, as it was a day trip (I was actually staying in San Jose). Checking out these hotels really reminds me of the culture of the place, though. These hotels are cool because they are all so different from each other. The Pheonix hotel looks particularly cool, though I may be biased because that frog playing a guitar statue is just sort of epic!


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