By: Bailey Gaddis
A metropolitan tapestry woven with public parks, exotic curio shops full of kid-friendly treasures, and an eatery with dumplings on almost every corner (and what kid doesn’t love dumplings?) San Francisco is a natural choice when selecting your next big city family vacation.
But, the question of where to stay is often the stumper when trying to find well-situated and family focused lodging in the city.
Using my family as a metaphorical guinea pig, I’ve discovered five of the top San Francisco hotels that will set your family up to have the ultimate vacation in one of the world’s most cultured concrete jungles.
Tucked between a fine art gallery and Morton’s Steakhouse, this hidden gem hotel is freshly renovated and less than a block from Union Square where your family can roam in the grass, inspect public art installations, or sign up for Emperor Norton's Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine (a walking tour).
Because all rooms are situated off the street, and look out onto a small courtyard-esque corridor, you can enjoy the convenience of being in the heart of downtown, without hearing the constant beat of that heart: traffic. But, even if quiet wasn’t readily available you’d still settle into serenity as this hotel features the most comfortable beds I’ve ever sunk into, and a nightly wine and cheese reception that does wonders for that fore-mentioned serenity.
A short walk to Chinatown and a hop, skip, and a stroller push to just about any culinary option your child’s particular taste buds might desire, this hotel will pour a large helping of simplicity on your trip.
If proximity to iconic attractions like The Exploratorium, Aquarium of the Bay, and a ferry ride to Alcatraz are your top priorities, this is the hotel for you. When all that exploring creates a hungry family return to the Embarcadero Center, attached to the hotel, offering eateries that have something for every palate and budget.
The Hyatt is a favorite during the winter holidays as they offer a private breakfast with Santa at the Eclipse Kitchen and Bar, snow flurries in the lobby (which is the largest in the world), and ice-skating at the Embarcadero Holiday Ice Rink, that is best followed by a fresh ice cream sandwich and hot cocoa at Over the Moon.
“Chic Lego Land” was my first thought when I walked into this space. The hotel includes bright colors, a kid-centric saltwater pool and courtyard, and details that seem to have been handpicked by preschoolers with impeccable taste. This motor lodge turned boutique hotel is the ideal getaway if you’re looking for lodging that is so captivating it will do most of the heavy lifting in regards to keeping the kids entertained.
And did I mention they offer afternoon cookies and milk and have a “Kids are VIPs” program?
Just mention the treasure chest of free toys in the lobby to your kids, and the chic maritime aesthetic that was updated in 2012 to your partner and this hotel will be an easy sell. Located across the street from the Fisherman’s Wharf waterfront and a block from the chocolaty Ghirardelli Square, this hotel makes it possible to have a fun and adventure-rich trip without having to pull your car out of the bowels of a parking garage.
Because of the nautical focused location, most nearby restaurants are heavy on the seafood, but most offer children’s menu classics for the picky eaters.
It can be tricky to find a luxury hotel that doesn’t tense at the mention of children, but the Fairmont is able to gracefully balance an essence of grandeur and kid-friendly fun.
Located on Nob Hill where Bay views are omnipresent, many rooms overlook scenes so impressive it would make even the most screen-focused child look up and stare. But, the appeal doesn’t just live outside the hotel - if you really want to impress your kids, take them for an on-site dinner at the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar where the tiki-themed décor and little umbrellas in their drinks will remind them that you’re pretty much the best parent ever. And, with pet-friendly family rooms you can comfortably bring your two-legged and four-legged babies along.