San Francisco hotels
Vivacious, colorful, inspiring, and exhilarating: the adjectives come easily when you think about San Francisco, that culture-crammed metropolis on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. From the independent record shops and cafes of Haight-Ashbury (epicenter of the hippie revolution, and still a bohemian stronghold today) to the pagodas of the world's greatest and most famous Chinatown, almost every part of this city will thrill and stimulate. And then of course there's the blazing blue of the bay, where the notorious fortress of Alcatraz remains one of America's best known tourist attractions.
Things to see
The Golden Gate Bridge is arguably the most famous symbol of San Francisco. Appearing a rich crimson in the sun (though actually a shade of orange), this vast suspension bridge spans the stretch of water that opens out from the Bay to the Pacific, and is unforgettable example of engineering genius. Want to go shopping in the city? Union Square should be top of your list: this exuberant plaza, with the towering Dewey Monument at its heart, is surrounded on all sides with vast department stores, chic boutiques, art galleries, and bars. Visitors also flock to Fisherman's Wharf, a sprawling waterfront complex which boasts Pier 39. Here you'll find more than 100 shops, a range of restaurants, and attractions such as the Aquarium of the Bay, with its mindblowing underwater tunnels bringing you face to face with glowing jellyfish and sleek sharks. Look out as well for the wharf's most famous residents: the happy-go-lucky sea lions. If you never thought a road could count as a tourist attraction, wait till you see Lombard Street, so steep that cars have to carefully wind down a succession of tight hairpin bends – it's both oddly graceful and surreal to see.
Hotels in San Francisco
As one of the most vibrant and popular cities in the United States, there are hundreds of hotels in San Francisco, suiting travelers of all kinds. They range from the lavish urban palaces dedicated to every kind of luxury, from marble bathrooms to pillow menus to wide balconies overlooking the bay. If your budget can't quite withstand such a blow, there are also plenty of more reasonably priced San Francisco hotels.
Where to stay
The city is so large that you'd be forgiven for wondering where to even begin looking for your hotel in San Francisco. Business travelers may want to check out the accommodation available in the Financial District – that energetic warren of gleaming skyscrapers (including the famous Transamerica Pyramid) where many companies are based. Alternatively, if you're here for pleasure and play, Union Square has plenty of hotels amid the shops and restaurants, while the accommodation in Fisherman's Wharf will offer sweeping views of the bay and the ocean.
How to get to
San Francisco International Airport is only around 12 miles from central San Francisco, and connections are quick and easy thanks to the BART, or Bay Area Rapid Transit train network, which actually has a station at the airport. Oakland International Airport, which handles domestic flights, is another gateway to the area: after you land, take the AirBART shuttle bus service to the nearest BART station and you'll be in the city in no time.