Relaxed but classy, the Hotel Adagio (550 Geary St; 415-775-5000 or 800-228-8830; $189+) combines Moorish and modern design in a 16-story, 171-room, 1929 hotel. This big, butch Theatre District hotel sports a $11 million facelift that's all about earth-tones and autumnal decor, though the exposed hallway water pipes and the standard-issue tubs and tile betray the hotel's utilitarian roots. All rooms are equipped with high-speed Internet access, Sony HDTVs, CD players, and Aveda bath products. Other amenities include a very nicely appointed fitness center, a small executive business center with Web access and printer, and valet parking.
The Hotel Rex (562 Sutter St; 415-433-4434 or 800-433-4434; $189+) offers a 1920s club-like atmosphere inspired by the arts and literary spirit of the city. Some rooms are a bit dark, but the decor is colorful and pleasant, and with more luxury amenities than you would expect at these rates.
Adjacent to the Embarcadero is another very fine Joie de Vivre property, Hotel Vitale (8 Mission St; 415-278-3700). Expect more restrained modern elegance here, with a focus on wellness; a spa, yoga studio, and fitness room facilitate the achievement of this goal.
Joie de Vivre also has several properties outside the downtown area. Popular with visiting celebrities, The Phoenix (601 Eddy St; 415-776-1380 or 800-248-9466; $139+) is a very hip bungalow-style hotel with 1950s retro rooms and a hand-painted pool. Artworks by local artists can be found throughout. The hotel's former bar, Backflip, has reopened as Bambuddha ($8-23), featuring Asian-influenced cocktails and dishes.
Near Civic Center are two budget-friendly Joie de Vivre properties. Good Hotel (112 7th St; 415-621-7001; $89+) has bright, perky rooms and eco-friendly design. Across the street is the Best Western Americania, (121 7TH St; 415-626-0200; $109+), a temple of simple and whimsical mid-century cool. Downstairs, order a delicious burger or a cool cocktail at Custom Burger and Custom Lounge.
Just off Market in downtown is the Metropolis (25 Mason St; 415-775-4600 or 800-553-1900; $98+), which occupies a property originally built in 1911 and totally renovated a decade ago. The new-age hotel is themed around the elements. Lobby, floor and room decor reflect these elements through clever architectural design and pleasant colors. The hotel lobby is funky and elegant, and service is friendly. Rooms are a bit small and noise carries too easily. The bathrooms are pretty and many have jet baths, though lack ventilator fans. Our final criticism: the one elevator can be overtaxed at the busiest times of day. The hotel offers complimentary wine reception in their elegant and well-appointed library, breakfast and 24-hour coffee service. Note that the hotel is located in the Tenderloin, an area that can feel sketchy at night.
The Renoir Hotel (45 McAllister St, at Market; 415-626-5200 or 800-576-3388; $119+) is situated in a flatiron-like building on Market near the Civic Center. Inexpensive, clean, well furnished, gay-managed, and boasting a good Brazilian restaurant on the first floor, this is a good moderate-price option popular with Europeans. It also offers absolutely unbeatable views of the Gay Pride Parade; during Pride Week, the hotel's proportion of gay guests swells from 10 percent or so to nearly 100 percent. It's also near Folsom Street and hosts gay parties and events from time to time.
Located in the Theater District, the 1912 Halcyon Hotel (649 Jones St; 415-929-8033 or 800-627-2396; $69+) offers features appropriate to extended-stay visitors, including kitchenette with utensils, microwave, refrigerator and toaster, cable TV, and telephone with voicemail and dataport. All rooms have private bathrooms and there are laundry facilities available.
BETWEEN DOWNTOWN AND THE CASTRO
Located on a pleasant street in lower Pacific Heights, the Queen Anne (1590 Sutter St; 415-441-2828 or 800-227-3970; $109+) offers a really nice combination of old San Francisco Victorian elegance and modern hotel amenities to a noticeably gay clientele.
Chateau Tivoli (1057 Steiner St; 415-776-5462 or 800-228-1647; $100+), in the Western Addition, is a large Victorian, extravagantly decorated with period antiques and keepsakes, simultaneously tasteful and over-the-top.
The Travelodge (1707 Market St; 415-621-6775 or 888-515-6375; $59+). Yes, the Travelodge! This motel tops our list of budget accommodations in the city, with a location convenient to both the Castro and downtown area. Rooms are clean, Wi-Fi saturates rooms, and there's parking, too!