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.
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.
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.