Laurel Inn Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Modern décor, unusually large, well-furnished, apartment-like rooms -- many with mini kitchens -- and lots of included perks place the 49-room Laurel Inn at the top of our list of best values for San Francisco. Generous free extras include Wi-Fi, all-day coffee and tea, a glass of wine, and afternoon lemonade and cookies, while parking is more reasonably priced than at other San Francisco hotels. Guests also get discounted passes to a local gym with adult and children's pools. And the hotel's location, in beautiful, residential Pacific Heights, amid upscale galleries and boutiques, is a welcome alternative to other frenetic, tourist-heavy neighborhoods.
InterContinental - San Francisco Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The InterContinental isn't cheap, but your dollar gets you a lot of modern style and plenty of first-rate amenities. Built in 2008 near the Moscone Convention Center in the business-oriented neighborhood of SoMa, the modern, 550-room InterContinental's luxury-level service, high-tech guest rooms (some with stunning views), lap pool, well-reviewed spa, and Michelin-star restaurant Luce make it one of San Francisco's best hotels -- and close to untouchable in its price range.
Good Hotel Rating: 2.5 Pearls
Those who don't mind venturing off the beaten path to a somewhat desolate stretch of artsy SoMa can find one of the best budget hotels in San Francisco. The Good Hotel is a brightly colored, whimsical and affordable gem with an environmental conscience apparent in features like the bathrooms' unique water-conserving toilet-top sinks and the lobby's coffee table (made from a recycled skateboard). The large quarters have up-to-date electronics like wall-mounted flat-screens and alarm clocks with iPod docks, plus patrons get free loaner bikes, free access to a fitness center and outdoor heated pool across the street, and even free parking if they drive a hybrid car.
Donatello Hotel Rating: 3.0 Pearls
The 94-room Donatello forgoes the doting service and long list of amenities in favor of huge, suite-style rooms in a convenient Union Square location. At 425 square feet, the studio suites here rival rooms at hotels that are two and three times as expensive, and they're great for families, with pullout sofas, mini-fridges, microwaves, toasters, sinks, silverware and dishes. You'll also get a small gym, spa and salon services, and an attached Italian restaurant, but the value clearly lies in the rooms and their sweet — and suite — appointments.
Hotel Rex Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This 94-room boutique in Union Square has a unique, 1920s-era literary theme that's captured in its well-designed lobby with retro reading tables and shelves of antique books. Though the rooms are tiny, they offer a lot for the money with up-to-date amenities including 36-inch, flat-panel TVs, alarm clocks with iPod docks, and plush pillow-top beds. Guests get added-value perks like a daily free wine hour, free Wi-Fi, free newspapers, and even a small on-site business center, and the bright, welcoming bistro serves well-priced eclectic seasonal fare.
Hotel Adagio Rating: 3.5 Pearls
The Adagio in Union Square -- which underwent a massive renovation in 2012 -- excels in all the places where it matters for a solid value lodging. Its spacious rooms come with the right up-to-date luxuries -- pillow-top mattresses, iPod docks, 32-inch, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, full minibars, and good-size bathrooms with upscale toiletries -- and the small, competent staff provides better-than-expected service. Add in the tiny, on-site fitness and business centers, and a tapas-style restaurant, and there's plenty of bang for the buck here.
Hotel Kabuki Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Off the beaten path in Japantown, the 218-room Hotel Kabuki is a low-key alternative to the crowds and noise of downtown. It has a serene vibe and traditional Japanese decor highlighted by in-room 3.5-foot-deep soaking tubs and a bonsai garden with a koi pond. Even though the quarters are a bit worn and overall amenities are limited, the free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, great views from balconies (some of the Golden Gate Bridge!), and free passes to the nearby Kabuki Springs & Spa make this well-priced lodging one of San Francisco's best values.
Radisson Hotel Fisherman's Wharf Rating: 3.0 Pearls
With a knockout pool area that includes a firepit and cabana bar, direct access from the hotel grounds to the waterfront in Fisherman's Wharf, free Wi-Fi, and attractive rates, the Radisson (renovated in 2012) is an excellent value, especially for families. Even if rooms are unremarkable, the prime tourist-friendly location, with cable cars a block away, makes up for them.
Hotel Tomo Rating: 3.0 Pearls
The Tomo boasts colorful, up-to-date, well-designed rooms that are larger than those at city hotels charging twice as much. You may not get a lot here in the way of amenities or service, but this Japantown boutique offers rooms full of Japanese pop art and upscale touches -- free Wi-Fi, bathrobes, iPod docks, flat-screen TVs -- plus an on-site restaurant that cooks authentic shabu-shabu (Japanese hot pot). It all adds up to an excellent San Francisco value.
The Huntington Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
A swanky Nob Hill address, large, luxurious rooms fresh off a 2009 renovation, a world-class spa, and old-world elegance that includes formally dressed doormen and polished service make this 136-room historic, four-and-a-half-pearl boutique an excellent value for the money. Quarters are just as large as at its pricier neighbors, and come with Wi-Fi, bathrooms with high-end toiletries, and turndown service. Guests get free use of the spa's pool, whirlpool, fitness center, and sauna and steam rooms, plus there's an intimate, fine-dining restaurant with a nightly pianist.