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Historic Hotels in San Francisco

Make Your Stay in San Francisco an Immersion in History


San Francisco was built on the gold, timber and shipping booms and the subsequent quick prosperity that came to the west coast filled the city with awe-inspiring architectural gems. Some of these are actually the city's finest hotels, which were built to serve the upper classes of their day and continue to provide luxurious and classic accommodations to modern visitors. Staying in a historic hotel means you don't even have to leave your room to immerse yourself in the charm, romance and elegance that San Francisco embodies.

1. The Mark Hopkins

Photo by Ocean Malandra
Perched at the top of Nob Hill like a majestic sentinel and opening directly onto all of the cable car lines, the Mark Hopkins Hotel is a true San Francisco icon. Built in 1926 and soaring 19 stories into the sky, the Mark Hopkins is a combination of Spanish Renaissance and French chateau styles. Most rooms offer sweeping views out over downtown San Francisco and the bay as the hilltop location raises the hotel above all obstructions.

It is worth it to head up to the "Top of the Mark" sky-lounge for a drink, even if you are not staying at the Mark Hopkins, as Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf and even the Golden Gate Bridge are all visible from the windows. Several luxury suites are also available, some with glass enclosed terraces that also look out over the city. One Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108. (415)-392-3434

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2. The Palace Hotel

Image Courtesy of the Palace Hotel
When it was originally constructed in 1875, the Palace Hotel was the largest hotel in the western United States. After the 1906 earthquake and fire, which destroyed most of the city, the Palace was rebuilt to its former glory and remains one of the top historic landmarks of the financial district.

Although the nine-story Beaux Arts hotel takes up an entire city block and is striking from the outside, the true treasure lies within the building. A Maxfield Parish mural, entitled "The Pied Piper of Hamlin" sits behind the hotel bar and the stained glass dome of the Garden Court, where meals are served, is an architectural treasure in and of itself. Rooms and suites are luxurious and feature high ceilings and period details like crown molding. 2 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. (415) 512-1111

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3. The Fairmont Hotel

Photo by Ocean Malandra
Opened in 1907, the Fairmont has always been the favorite choice of visiting politicians, diplomats and celebrities, and sets the standard in the city for both luxury and class. In fact, the United Nations Charter was drafted in the hotel and a memorial plaque in the Garden Room commemorates this event.

The hotel is also home to the famous "Tonga Room" restaurant and tiki bar as well as the Laurel Court restaurant, which has been serving a traditional afternoon tea for more than 100 years. Many rooms have balconies or terraces, some with views of the Bay Bridge and the east bay, and the 6000 square-foot penthouse suite can entertain up to 100 people. 950 Mason Street San Francisco, CA 94108. (415)772-5000

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4. The Sir Francis Drake Hotel

Image Courtesy of Jesse Garcia
Built in 1928, the 21-story Sir Francis Drake Hotel is a fantastical tribute to the Renaissance era with it's Corinthian columns and grand marble staircase. Located just a half a block from Union Square and right on the cable car line, the hotel is also home to the legendary "Starlight Room", a swanky lounge and dance club that occupies the top floor and is one of downtown San Francisco's top nightlife venues. The special Presidential Suite comes features an outdoor dining area with up close views of the city skyline. 450 Powell Street, San Francisco CA 94102. (415) 392-7755

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5. The Adagio Hotel

Photo by Ocean Malandra
This 1929 Spanish Colonial gem is intricately decorated on the outside but is completely modernized on the inside, and is located just a block from ACT and the Curran theater, a perfect choice for those in town for a performance. The 16 story hotel has up close views of the downtown skyline, especially from its top floor Stone and Samuel suites, which are really fully furnished apartments. Gourmet eats and classic cocktails are served in the lobby level Mortimer Lounge while the Green Room serves farm to table breakfasts from its open dining room kitchen.

550 Geary Street (415) 775-5000 www.hoteladagiosf.com

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6. The Huntington Hotel

Photo by Ocean Malandra
Sitting kitty-corner from majestic Grace Cathedral and directly across the street from Huntington Park, the Huntington Hotel is an often overlooked historic hotel that offers guests a boutique experience at the top of Nob Hill. Because the 1928 brick Georgian building was originally an apartment building, rooms are much larger and relaxing at the Huntington Hotel then most of it's competitors and the on-site Nob Hill Spa makes leaving the premise even harder to do.

The Big Four restaurant, located at ground level and named after the four big railroad tycoons of the 19th century, is a de facto museum of California history, filled with artifacts and memorabilia from the states golden past. 1075 California Street San Francisco, CA 94108. (415) 474-5400

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7. The Westin Saint Francis Hotel

Image Courtesy of the Westin St. Francis
Opening directly onto Union Square and built in 1904 to match the greatest hotels in Paris and London, the Saint Francis Hotel is the only standing hotel to have survived the great earthquake and fire of 1906. In the 1970s a modern tower was added to the rear of the historic building, making the Saint Francis one of the largest hotels in the city, and the sandstone exterior of the original structure was completely restored.

Several restaurants are now housed in the hotel, including Micheal Mina's Bourbon Steak, an award winning steakhouse. Many different styles of rooms are available including the MacArthur Suite, which was the west coast headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur upon his return to the United States. 335 Powell Street San Francisco, California 94102. (415) 397-7000

Check for Rates at The Westin St. Francis Hotel

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