Visitors to the San Francisco Bay Area will find a full range of accommodations. There are plenty of larger places to stay, but the city itself abounds with small and elegant hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts.
Because most of the city's major sights are in a fairly compact area that's well-served by public transportation, those staying anywhere from the Financial District to Fisherman's Wharf can choose a hotel to suit their tastes rather than worrying about location. Union Square hotels are convenient to many attractions and are popular, so will be priced accordingly. If you're looking for quieter nights and weekends, a Financial District hotel is your best bet. For a cozier stay, opt for one of the historic Victorian houses converted to a bed-and-breakfast (those in better neighborhoods will cost a bit more).
There are few budget properties. Less expensive accommodations can be found on Lombard Street in the Marina District, which is often called motel row—rooms cost about half the downtown rates. There are more than a dozen hostels in the city (we do not recommend the YMCA, however). Advance reservations are always recommended in San Francisco, especially during the summer and fall tourist seasons. This is a cosmopolitan town with something going on all the time, so it's best to book well in advance.
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