Your choices in San Francisco hotels are overwhelming. The prices can be too. So during our staff visit to the City by the Bay, we looked for reasonably priced hotels that had charm, good location or both. We came back with 14 ideas on places to bed down. It’s not a complete list, but it is eclectic, like the city itself.
Mystic Hotel. This property, which opened in April, stands on a tunnel-adjacent block of Stockton Street that you’ll never see on a picture postcard, yet it has style, as do the Burritt Tavern bar and restaurant downstairs. Union Square is close too. Chef Charlie Palmer, who has done hotels before, is the personality behind this venture. 417 Stockton St.; (415) 400-0500, http://www.mystichotel.com. Doubles fetch $159 to $269.
Hotel Triton. The Triton is a short stroll from Union Square, a block from Chinatown, with the popular Cafe de la Presse downstairs. The 164 guest rooms, many of them small, were redone in 2012 with a Beat theme (that’s a Kerouac typescript on the wallpaper). The lobby still has the same circus/outer space décor it’s had for years. 342 Grant Ave.; (415) 394-0500, http://www.hoteltriton.com. Doubles from $250.
Hotel Bijou. This lodging isn’t about charm as much as it’s about price. The Bijou (its 65 rooms are named for movies shot in San Francisco) stands next to a sports bar on a block of hostels just off Market Street. It’s near Union Square, but the rooms are small and often less than $120 a night. On a January stay booked through http://www.priceline.com, I paid $83. To dodge sports-bar noise, ask for a room on the fifth or sixth floors. 111 Mason St.; (415) 771-1200, http://www.hotelbijou.com.
Kensington Park Hotel. Don’t be put off by the fact that this is the home of the Elks Club or that you can’t use the pool or spa if you’re not an Elk. There’s plenty to like in this Union Square hotel besides its location (which is great), especially if you admired the way your Aunt Mildred decorated her living room, which is what the lobby looks like. The elevator is so enormous that I found it giggle-worthy. (How many elevators have a padded bench?) You’d think the rooms would be proportionately huge, but they’re not; a queen is about 300 square feet, but perfectly fine. The bath lacked shelves or counters so it may take some toiletry juggling. Still, a deal worth taking. 450 Post St.; (415) 788-6400, http://www.kensingtonparkhotel.com. Doubles from $169.
Hotel Rex. It’s easy to imagine Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op casing the joint from the hotel’s noirish, dimly lighted Library Bar. There was no sleuthing the night I was here. Instead of the detective, locals practicing their French packed the small space. The noirish vibe continued in the slightly spooky hallway leading to my room, which was small but surprisingly cheerful with butterscotch-colored walls and vibrant ceramic lamps and shades. Nice touches: The tiny elevator is wallpapered with pages from an old San Francisco social register, and don’t forget to pet Max, the lobby pug, on your way out to nearby Union Square. 562 Sutter St.; (415) 433-4434, http://www.thehotelrex.com. Doubles from $189.
Argonaut Hotel. The location of this boutique hotel, in a former brick warehouse at the western end of Fisherman’s Wharf, makes it prime lodging for families exploring the waterfront. It shares first-floor space with the visitor center for the Maritime National Historical Park. Across the street is the Hyde Street Pier, where the Balclutha and other historic ships are docked. Around the corner is the Powell & Hyde cable car line, and a block away is Ghirardelli Square. .
Read more: LATimes