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A Peek Inside San Francisco’s Hotel Renaissance

This year’s spate of hotel unveilings means a freshly fluffed bed for every breed of traveler.



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Photo: Synapse Development Group/Yotel

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Proper Hotel SF

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Photo: Jeff Zaruba Photography/Via

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The Yotel lobby

Photo: Synapse Development Group/Yotel

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Photo: Aubrie Pick/Kabuki

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Laurel Inn

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Hardly lacking for guests, San Francisco sometimes lacks places to store them: There are just 34,000 hotel rooms for an expected 25.6 million visitors this year. Despite such numbers, new hotels haven’t risen as swiftly as, say, record-setting office towers. “Since the recession, business was tougher and we didn’t see a lot of hotels—especially new-build hotels—opening up at all,” says Kevin Carroll, executive director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. But the still-booming tourist economy has finally tempted cautious developers. Four new hotels open this year, several others get significant remodels, and there are more in the works, including a Waldorf Astoria in SoMa and a rumored Standard in Mid-Market. According to the San Francisco Travel Association, around 740 hotel rooms will be added over the next two years. The new entrants offer variety, which means it’s more likely you’ll find something to please your out-of-town guests and less likely they’ll sleep on your couch.


For Design Snobs: Proper Hotel SF
Mid-Market, from $400
Opening: August
Queen of California cool Kelly Wearstler is responsible for the interior design of this hotel destined to launch a thousand well-liked Instagrams. “We looked to bring something new to the city by collaging a reimagining of past, present, and future,” Wearstler says. The 131 rooms, located on the site of the fire-scarred former Renoir hotel, feature conceptual art mixed with contemporary furniture pieces. There are also three ground-level restaurants and an indoor-outdoor rooftop bar and lounge. 45 McAllister St. (At Market St.),

For Conventioneers: Yotel
Mid-Market, from $229. Opening: Fall
Where to stick your cousin who’s in town for Disrupt? How about a 150-square-foot “cabin” with a “techno-wall”? This London-based chain borrows from the Japanese capsule concept, and its San Francisco outpost contains 203 modestly priced rooms along with some VIP accommodations. In addition to the techno-walls, which feature flat-screen TVs, guests will find adjustable “SmartBeds,” monsoon rain showers, free Wi-Fi, and co-working spaces. Yotel has taken over the Grant Building, one of the few downtown structures to survive the 1906 earthquake. Architectural nerds, unclench: Original details—like a wrought iron staircase—survived the futuristic facelift. 1095 Market St. (At 7th St.),

For Brand Loyalists: Virgin
SoMa, from $425. Opening: Fall
What else would you expect from the company that brought us the flying nightclub? Following a Chicago debut, Virgin’s second hotel project is decked with contemporary (red) furniture, a heavily hyped rooftop bar, and 196 “chambers” and “grand chamber suites” with ergonomic headboards and movable footboards that double as a work surface. For those can’t-get-out-of-bed mornings, the company’s mobile app, Lucy, can be used to adjust the temperature and book room service. 250 4th St. (At Clementina St.),

For Anti–Hotel Chainers: Via
South Beach, from $279
Once upon a time, South Beach was just for houseboaters, but the neighborhood has been colonized by condos and offices—and now a glossy hotel, which opened in June and whose aesthetic is a nod to the brick warehouses that once dominated the area. Inside you’ll find modern furnishings from Mandy Li and eco-friendly features like an energy management system that adjusts heat and air based on whether you’re in the room or not. The guests-only rooftop includes fire pits, sun loungers, and private cabanas. 138 King St. (Near 2nd St.),


For Twain Buffs: Galleria Park
Financial district, from $309
This 177-room hotel with historical bona fides resides on the site of the former Lick House, opened in 1863, and the former Occidental Hotel, described as “heaven on a half-shell” in Mark Twain’s Roughing It. An overhaul of the guest rooms was completed in July, while a renovation of the public spaces—which include a garden, Franck LeClerc’s Gaspar Brasserie, and a bar with the largest selection of cognac in the city—concludes in early 2018. 191 Sutter St. (Near Kearny St.),

For Poetry Lovers: Tilden
Tenderloin, from $199
This modernist hotel, whose renovation wrapped in March, is decorated with local art and hosts a rotating roster of artists in residence. It’s even home to a poet in residence, Tenderloin-based Jesse Johnson, who can often be found at the hotel’s watering hole, the Douglas Room. There’s an expansive lobby and bar, where food is served until 1 a.m. The Hummingbird Garden, with lush greenery and a babbling brook, is an ideal spot to read a slim book of verse. 345 Taylor St. (Near O’Farrell St.),

For Mid-Century Addicts: Laurel Inn
Presidio Heights, from $249
Does anyone actually want to live in the 1950s? Besides Mike Pence? Maybe not, but we’ll sure take that era’s furniture. The Laurel Inn’s mid-century makeover debuted in April with retro furnishings and artwork curated by the Lost Art Salon. Accommodations are roomy for the city—many quarters come with kitchenettes. Bonus: The inn has partnered with local businesses like Books Inc. for a book-of-the-month club and Batter Bakery for complimentary cookies. 444 Presidio Ave. (At California St.),

For East-Meets-Westerners: Kabuki
Japantown, from $249
Have you arrived in San Francisco or Japan? Leaning heavily on emulating neighborhood character, this relaxation-focused spot is getting a makeover. Revamped guest rooms and public spaces debut in September; more updated accommodations arrive in November. The hotel combines bohemian whimsy and contemporary design, stitched together with Eastern influence: Artwork on guest room doors is modeled after vintage Japanese matchboxes. Stroll through a Japanese garden, take a yoga class, or gather your thoughts at one of the outdoor fire pits or the reflecting pool. Guests can feast on bento boxes for breakfast and have complimentary access to the ryokan-style communal baths next door at Kabuki Springs & Spa. 1625 Post St. (Near Laguna St.), 415-922-3200


Originally published in the August issue of San Francisco

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