A team of Oyster reporters spent weeks exploring 59 top hotels in San Francisco. We slept in the beds, ate in the restaurants, tested the service, and scoped out the neighborhoods, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. Although San Francisco isn’t a celebrity hangout on the level of Los Angeles or New York, the stars do come here — and when they do, these are the hotels they choose to stay in.
The regal old Fairmont has hosted an impressive list of U.S. presidents, international royalty and heads of state, and A-list celebrities (a list that the hotel proudly displays on its website). President Barack Obama has been a guest here, as was Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and JFK, among others. The long line of celebrity guests includes greats like Fred Astaire, James Brown, and Ernest Hemingway, plus Hollywood stars of today including David Duchovny, Harrison Ford, Uma Thurman, Courtney Cox, Katie Holmes, and Mischa Barton. Movies filmed here include Vertigo, Dirty Harry, and The Rock.
Rock stars have long made this quirky converted motel their San Francisco crash pad. Never mind that it's located in the seedy Tenderloin district, the hotel draws its cool crowd with the happening Bambuddha Lounge, a parking lot for tour buses, and a So-Cal-style courtyard pool. The long roster of rockers who have stayed here since the hotel opened in the late '80s includes Joan Jett, Keanu Reeves, David Bowie, Moby, Little Richard, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and the Shins.
A luxury hotel with highest of high-end service, the St. Regis is simply made for the rich and famous. Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Hanks, Warren Beatty, and Annette Bening are just a few of the household names that have reportedly been on the guest list here. Brooke Shields stopped by in fall 2009 to promote a campaign benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
During our stay at the Campton Place Taj, the staff told us that Steve Martin and Jennifer Lopez had both recently stayed at the hotel. No wonder why: Top-of-the-line service and an air of laid-back luxury create a perfect scenario for stars looking to get away and maintain a low profile.
As San Francisco's second-oldest hotel, the Westin St. Francis has been welcoming famous faces since opening in 1904. President Barack Obama spoke at a Democratic fundraiser held at the hotel in October 2009, Nancy Pelosi celebrated her one-year anniversary as House Speaker here, and former President George W. Bush stayed here during his presidency. (They're not the only politicians that have felt quite cozy here: The list of presidential guests goes all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt.)