The best budget hotels in San Francisco, from friendly guest houses to tech-savvy crash pads

Hotel G San Francisco
This hip hotel, which sits just one block from Union Square, is a go-to destination for trendsetters

You don't often see the word 'budget' sharing a sentence with 'San Francisco', thanks to a growing population of well-paid tech workers. But frugal travellers shouldn't despair. Bargain hunters are rewarded with some of the city's most charming stays: from b&bs in painted Victorians, to a quirky boutique serving cocktails from a secret speakeasy. Thriftier stays are often found in residential areas – serving a taste of local life – but there are finds in famous locations like Fisherman’s Wharf, too. Plus, in this city, the best things really are free: walking its streets reveals breath-stealing views around every corner.

Hotel Zetta San Francisco

San Francisco, California, United States

8 Telegraph expert rating

A centrally located millennial-leaning hotel that is all about fun: just look at the split-level lobby, where guests can play shuffleboard and try out virtual reality video-games for free in the lobby. Expect an enthusiastic welcome at the front desk, where nothing seems too much trouble (you might even get complimentary beers during San Francisco Beer Week). Standard rooms are generously sized and have a residential feel, seemingly inspired by the imagined decorating style of a young tech entrepreneur (desks with scaffold-like legs; pendant lighting and filing cabinet-esque drawers). Tuck into posh pub food in the hotel's plaid-clad brasserie The Cavalier, which is popular with locals.
Read expert review
From £ 141
per night
Rates provided by
Booking.com

Chateau Tivoli B&B

San Francisco, California, United States

8 Telegraph expert rating

Be charmed by a stay in one of San Francisco’s most lavish Victorian mansions, which is surrounded by the city’s famous row of houses, nicknamed the ‘Painted Ladies’. Chateau Tivoli has enjoyed a checkered history. Interiors are a reincarnation of the building's Victorian heyday, when it was designed for a shipping magnate in 1890, and feature intricate oak carvings, coloured glass windows and vibrant paintwork. A modest breakfast buffet is included (guests are also welcome to take food back to their rooms) and there’s a daily complimentary wine and cheese reception in the parlour from 4pm-6pm. An Alamo Square neighbourhood map marked with recommendations is also provided.
Read expert review
From £ 131
per night

Hotel G San Francisco

San Francisco, California, United States

8 Telegraph expert rating

This hip hotel, which sits just one block from Union Square, is a go-to destination for trendsetters. Although the hotel has few amenities besides a small fitness centre, it’s located in a buzzing neighbourhood offering just about anything you might need, from day spas to nightlife. Rooms are elemental in style, mixing antique elements – think vintage banker’s lamps and Victorian chaise longues – with earth-toned modern design like fog-coloured walls and natural fabrics. They also sport tech conveniences such as iPod docking stations and Nespresso coffee machines. Don’t miss the buzzy seafood restaurant and hidden speakeasy bar, which are busy for good reason.
Read expert review
From £ 127
per night
Rates provided by
Booking.com

The Inn at Union Square

San Francisco, California, United States

8 Telegraph expert rating

A small façade allows The Inn at Union Square to hide out from the crowds and the typically hectic pace of San Francisco's popular shopping district. The hotel may be small – with just 30 guestrooms and suites – but it comes with a big number of perks, for example all guests are offered a glass of champagne at check-in. Each floor has public sitting areas or parlours with cushy seating. They vary slightly from one floor to the next, with different amenities such as wood burning fireplaces, filtered water, ice machines, extra refrigerators, board games, and in the evening, chocolate chip cookies. Evening cheese and wine receptions are also held in select parlour areas.
Read expert review
From £ 163
per night
Rates provided by
Booking.com

Hotel Zephyr

San Francisco, California, United States

8 Telegraph expert rating

This large, zany hotel, in a handy location by Fisherman's Wharf, is perfect for first-time visitors to San Francisco. Nautical accents pop up throughout the property, such as literary quotes from Moby Dick painted inside the lifts, to a giant octopus mural and cruise ship-style shuffleboard. The best feature is the outdoor courtyard, simply called The Yard. It's filled with games, such as a giant Connect Four board and a ping-pong table challengingly constructed inside a tube, as well as fire pits made out of recycled soda cans. In the courtyard, a vintage camper sells coffees, espressos, breakfast pastries (from $4/£3) and light lunches and dinners, as well as California craft beers and wine to sip while warming yourself by the outdoor fire pit.
Read expert review
From £ 127
per night
Rates provided by
Booking.com

Parker Guest House

San Francisco, California, United States

8 Telegraph expert rating

This yellow-painted, friendly guest house sits in the midst of two especially appealing neighbourhoods: well-to-do and LGBT-prominent The Castro and Latin-influenced foodie paradise The Mission. It is immediately cosy, more home than hotel, inviting guests to make themselves comfortable. Natural hues are set against the odd colour pop (perhaps a baby-blue armchair or polka-dot cushion). Thoughtful touches include a kitchen (equipped with coffee maker and fridge for guest's use), plus plenty of maps, pamphlets and recommendations for local restaurants, health clubs and yoga classes. Staff are a warm and welcoming family of friends, well-informed about the guesthouse and the area.
Read expert review
From £ 150
per night

Axiom Hotel

San Francisco, California, United States

8 Telegraph expert rating

A self-proclaimed 'tech-savvy' hotel that prides itself on being forward-thinking but is still respectful of its old bones. Axiom's casual Turn Café is tailor-made for digital nomads, with USB ports and plug sockets at every table. Stop by for good quality burgers or grab-and-go breakfasts. Above, the sprawling 'Cloud Level' mezzanine is stocked with free-to-play vintage arcade games (Asteroids, Paperboy, Pac-Man, etc), plus table football and lounge seating. Decent-sized rooms are contemporary and crisp, with dark wood floors and modern, minimal furnishings in restrained shades like slate grey, navy and tan. Bonus: the landmark Powell-Hyde cable car turnaround is directly outside, for when it's time to nip off and sight-see.
Read expert review
From £ 119
per night
Rates provided by
Booking.com

Golden Gate Hotel

San Francisco, California, United States

7 Telegraph expert rating

A cosy b&b in a prime spot, Golden Gate offers an attractive pairing of convenience and charm. A throwback to a simpler time in hospitality, what it lacks in extras, it makes up for with genuine warmth. Cable cars, Chinatown and Union Square are right on the doorstep, too. The building is steeped in early 20th-century charm – the gilded birdcage lift is one of the oldest in the city. There’s a small, cosy parlour with marble fireplace where guests can linger over breakfast (think baskets of buttery croissants) and relax. Out of 25, 14 of the rooms have private bathrooms, and the rest share (though they have a sink within the room).
Read expert review
From £ 150
per night
Rates provided by
Booking.com

The Parsonage

San Francisco, California, United States

8 Telegraph expert rating

Immerse yourself in the San Francisco lifestyle at this b&b in a landmark Victorian townhouse, ideally situated in upscale Hayes Valley. Antique interiors and delicious home-cooked breakfasts are only half the appeal – warm hosts and a wealth of attractions on the doorstep seal the deal. There are five rooms, some with fireplaces, and all featuring elegant, marble en-suites. Comfortable and cosy, each is named after a trailblazing San Francisco female. All are a good size, but, aptly, Alma Spreckles – known as ‘Big Alma’ and ‘the Great Grandmother of San Francisco’– is the largest, offering a striking canopy bed, walk-in wardrobe and clawfoot tub as well as walk-in shower.
Read expert review
From £ 140
per night

Contributions from Laura Chubb, Dana Rebmann & Sara Benson

Prices cited on Boooking.com are subject to change in high season and during popular holidays and events.