Leave your heart but not your wallet-these hotels, inns, and B & Bs are bargain bedrooms by the bay
There are myths about visiting San Francisco that are as persistent as its morning fog. One is that there are no great hotels in the city offering rooms for less than $100 a night. Here we have 50 that prove otherwise. * This is good news for travelers who have watched San Francisco's room rates rise to among the nation's highest. According to Robert Mandelbaum, director of research at PKF Consulting, which tracks the hospitality industry, San Francisco has the fastest-growing hotel room rates of any major city in the nation, with a 12 percent increase the first half of this year alone. A stay at any of the city's four-star hotels now costs at least $200, and a basic double room at the Ritz-Carlton-the top San Francisco hostelry in the latest Zagat Survey: U.S. Hotels, Resorts fs Spas-will set you back a cool $275. * But in a recent Sunset survey of 300 hotels, motels, inns, bed-and-breakfasts, and even a youth hostel, we turned up a number of surprisingly good values. Each of the places listed below offers rooms this time of year for less than $100, single occupancy, not including taxes or parking. * We stayed-anonymously-at our top picks, and subjected all 50 selections to a rigorous, 10-point inspection. We found that many of our top-tier lodgings are true gems. Rooms range from spacious to dinky; some have shared baths down the hall. And parking can be a block or two away But each property is one-of-a-kind-some in historic buildings, others with hot tubs, cool gardens, or cozy parlors. * The lodgings in our lists of "Other Good Bets" generally lack such frills. Yet all are clean and comfortable. And with the money you save-well, there's a whole city to spend it in.
This is the gilt-windowed, traffic-throttled heart of San Francisco. Big-name department stores surround the square; boutiques line Post and Sutter streets. The theater district straddles Geary Street, Chinatown is a few blocks north, and at Powell and Market streets, the little cable cars begin their climb....
Beresford Arms. Families couldn't find a better downtown base. Double rooms at this recently refurbished hotel start at $99, but the Beresford also has 38 suites with kitchens, which, at a top rate of $160, beat the usual family plan of renting adjoining rooms. 701 Post; (415) 673-2600 or (800) 533-6533. 96 rooms from $99, but ask about discounts and be certain your reservation isn't confused with the hotel's nearby sister property, Beresford Hotel (see "Other Good Bets"). Continental breakfast; valet parking $15.
Cartwright Hotel on Union Square.
Guests still ride the original, ivy-painted elevator dating from the hotel's opening in 1913, and rooms are clean and comfortable. Nintendo games play on the TV in every room, but air-conditioning is on the first two floors only. 524 Sutter; (415) 4212865 or (800) 227-3844. 114 rooms from $89. Continental breakfast; parking 18.
Commodore Hotel. A Gen-Xers home away from home, the Commodore's lobby bristles with angular, neo-deco furniture; the Red Room bar (its name says it all) will help you regain your bearings over a cocktail. Despite its trendy aura, the hotel is quiet; refurbished rooms offer basic amenities, and most are amply sized, though bathrooms are small. 825 Sutter; (415) 923-6800 or (800) 338-6848. 112 rooms from $89. Parking $14.
Cornell Hotel. M. and Mme. Claude Lambert have run this charming French country-style hotel for 30 years. Each floor is decorated with reproductions of work by a famous artist, and rooms are large, quiet, and fresh-smelling with-surprise-cedar-lined closets. Thick towels and a hair dryer are provided in each bathroom. Don't miss breakfast in the tapestrylined restaurant, Jeanne d'Arc, where a $22 fixed-price four-course dinner is also served every day except Sunday. Ask about the weekly package including breakfast and dinner. …