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Exclusive | San Francisco's Tomo Hotel

Exclusive | San Francisco's Tomo Hotel

Great gay- and family-friendly choice

The recently renovated Japanese Pop Art-themed Hotel Tomo (1800 Sutter St; 415.921.4000; in San Francisco's Japantown is our latest hot tip in the city. Whether you're looking for a fun place to stay for the whole family or just a reasonably priced nice, clean gay-friendly place for you and your partner -- the Tomo is an excellent choice.

Priced like a Best Western (which it is), the Tomo has the flair and character of a top boutique property (because it's managed by gay-owned California hoteliers Joie de Vivre).

Whimsical wall murals by Japanese pop artist Heisuke Kitazawa grace the walls of each guest room, along with a fun, colorful array of furnishings (including bright-yellow beanbag chairs) that evoke Ikea as much as Osaka. All rooms include 26-inch flat-screen LCD TVs with cable and on-demand movies and games; radios with iPod docking stations; bathrobe; work desk with high-speed wired and wireless Internet plus mini-fridges and coffeemakers. The property also has an on-site fitness center.

The Tomo is a bit off the beaten path, but Japantown is a fun part of town to check out (especially with the kids) and there are several bus lines within a block or two that can get you to the more popular tourist spots. Don't miss the genuine manju and mochi sweets at Benkyodo Co. (right across the street at 1747 Buchanan St.; and the wonderfully unique Ichiban Kan (1625 Post St.) -- where you can get all kinds of amazing Japanese chatchkes and unusual food items).

Take a stroll through the Miyako and Kinetsu malls, where you'll find scores of Japanese collectibles, more sushi options than you've ever seen in a two-block stretch and the wild photo-booth extravaganza Pika Pika (1581 Webster St;

Grown-up must-sees also include a visit to the local Kabuki Springs and Spa (1750 Geary Blvd; or taking in a flick at the new Sundance Kabuki Cinemas (1881 Post St;

Rooms start at $109. The Hotel Tomo is a 100 percent nonsmoking hotel.

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