Where Should I Stay in San Francisco?

Surveying the city’s top hotel options

San Francisco is a conundrum: a wonderful destination with far less than wonderful hotels in which to stay. This despite the fact that average room rates are the third highest in the country, behind New York’s and Miami’s. But several renovations give us hope for better—and fresher—times.

The top redo is at the 141-year-old Palace Hotel (rooms from $435; 2 New Montgomery St.; 415-512-1111; sfpalace.com), which finished a $40 million update last September that brought its 556 rooms into the 21st century. Antiques and four-poster beds were replaced; lovely 11-foot ceilings and original molding remain. Book a 647-square-foot Deluxe Suite. The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco (rooms from $469; 600 Stockton St.; 415-296-7465; ritzcarlton.com) finished a $30 million renovation in March 2015 that revived all 336 rooms. Opt for a Deluxe Guest Room. For more space, St. Regis San Francisco’s (rooms from $475; 125 Third St.; 415-284-4000; stregissanfrancisco.com) three-year-old standard rooms are among the city’s largest (450 square feet and up).

Boutique options include the bright, navy-and-white-striped rooms at Union Square’s The Marker (rooms from $209; 501 Geary St.; 415-292-0100; themarkersanfrancisco.com); Nob Hill’s Scarlet Huntington (rooms from $479; 1075 California St.; 415-474-5400; thescarlethotels.com), with decor in red, purple, and yellow (the Mulholland Suite is more toned down); and Jackson Square’s The Battery (rooms from $595; 717 Battery St.; 415-230-8000; thebatterysf.com), a private social club with 14 rooms.

Just outside downtown, in Berkeley, the Fairmont’s Claremont Club & Spa (rooms from $279; 41 Tunnel Rd.; 510-843-3000; fairmont.com) completed a multi-million-dollar renovation to its 276 rooms in December.