Ever since the famous counterculture revolution of the 1960s 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 are 10 of the most unique and cool hotels in San Francisco (in no particular order).
1. Hotel Triton
Flamboyant and eclectically designed, Hotel Triton is anything but dull. From the moment you step inside you’ll enter an unusual world filled with tomato soup-coloured walls, purple boudoir-esque furniture and 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 some of their suites. Many of the rooms offer something a little out of the ordinary – in a Haagan 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 $134 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Triton
2. Hotel Rex
Part of the creative ‘Joie de Vivre’ chain, Hotel Rex is a very popular boutique hotel which aims to captures the glamour of the 1920’s. The historical building was 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 Rex succeeds in creating a stylish old-school feel. The rooms are spacious with custom wall coverings, hand-painted lampshades and a good range of modern amenities. Other nice touches include a free nighty wine hour, live jazz and random poetry readings at their on-site Café Andrée.
- Prices from $163 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Rex
3. Phoenix Hotel
Otherwise known as the Rock’n’Roll hotel, the quirky Phoenix is said to be where the likes of Little Richard, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead stay when they’re in town. A funky oasis located on the edge of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, the classic 1950s-style boutique hotel mixes 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 here and expect to see murals at the bottom of the pool, quirky statues lining the courtyards and guest rooms with retro bedspreads and original artwork. Not to everyone’s taste but if you like to party then definitely a hotel to consider.
- Prices from $122 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Phoenix hotel
4. Hotel Diva
Marketed as a hotel for guests with a big personality, Hotel Diva is an affordable modern boutique hotel with a sleek and provocative design. Definitely one of the cool hotels San Francisco can offer, decor includes cobalt blue carpet, sculpted stainless steel headboards, luxury bedlinens and 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 $155 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Diva
5. Hotel Tomo
Hotel Tomo is a geek’s paradise. Heavily influenced by its Japan town location, the hotel is adorned with comics, cute characters and a functional modern design. Although part of the Best Western chain, this playful and whimsical style of accommodation is anything but standard. In your room you’ll find iPod docks and LCD TVs and there’s even a special communal suite for gamers complete with PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and a super-sized LCD projection screen. Perfect for an unusual but affordable break – especially for families or just the young at heart…
- Prices from $111 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Tomo
6. Hotel Bijou
Hollywood inspired Hotel Bijou pays homage to the cinema industry. All 65 colourful guest rooms in this budget boutique are named after famous films set in the city. The movie theme follows throughout the hotel the decor is theatrical and ornate. In the hotel lobby you’ll find the Petit Theatre which screens complimentary double features of San Francisco-based movies every night. Other reasons to stay are the excellent central location and great value room rates.
- Prices from $96 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Bijou
7. 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, the 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 $206 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Boheme Hotel
8. Hotel Vertigo
A San Francisco hotel with an intriguing past, the building was once a prohibition era speakeasy and then the setting for the Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Vertigo. With a new revamp and a name change Hitchcock inspired ‘Hotel Vertigo’ was 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 $103 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Vertigo Hotel
9. Orchard Garden Hotel
Reflecting the city’s progressive ideals is this ultra-green modern hotel. The Orchard Garden 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, 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 rooftop garden.
- Prices from $166 a night.
- To book, check prices or availability for Orchard Garden Hotel
10. Hotel des Arts
Part hotel, part art gallery Hotel des Arts is dedicated to featuring the contemporary work of international artists. Located in the city’s French quarter, this new boutique hotel promises comfortable modern interiors embellished with a liberal dashing 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 include wall-mounted vinyl records, graffiti, fabrics and three dimensional art work to create an 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 and reasonably priced cool hotels in San Francisco
- Frank Hotel – Flamboyant and bold boutique hotel near Union Square from $261pn
- Good hotel – Hip budget hotel with green credentials from $85pn
- The Mosser – Urban budget retreat even comes with its very own recording studio from $93pn
- Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer – Sleek & chic central boutique hotel with an urban style from $165pn
- The Adagio Hotel – Trendy four star hotel with unique, elegant decor from $215pn
- The Hotel del Sol – Colourful, trendy hotel with green credentials from $131pn
- The Herbert Hotel – Cool budget hotel in a central location from $134pn
- Hotel Zetta – Grand luxurious hotel with very trendy decor from $227pn
- The Sir Francis Drake Hotel – Trendy Kimpton hotel with beautiful decor from $152pn
- Hotel Union Square – Sleek boutique hotel with cool urban style rooms from $146pn
- Clift Hotel – Famous luxury hotel with beautifully unique European décor from $188
- Hotel Kabuki – Tasteful Japanese themed hotel from $128pn
- White Swan Inn – Vintage romance in the style of an English country Inn from $220pn
- W San Francisco – Grand luxurious hotel with a superb contemporary decor from $210
- Hotel Carlton – Eclectic and quirky international style in Nob Hill from $105pn
- The Hotel Monaco – Kimpton hotel and spa with a unique style from $171pn
- Hotel Metropolis – Trendy family friendly budget hotel from $100pn
- Petite Auberge – Popular romantic French-style boutique hotel from $210pn
- Green Tortoise Backpackers Guesthouse – Cool guesthouse with an excellent reputation from $35pn