6 Places To Stay in San Francisco With Incredible Cocktail Bars
Charmaine's bar at Proper Hotel San Francisco is arguably the best rooftop spot in the city | Courtesy of Proper Hotel San Francisco
When you’re on a trip, it can sometimes feel a bit lazy to take a drink in the hotel bar instead of venturing out into the city beyond. However, at these boutique hotels in San Francisco, the watering holes are destinations in themselves. Pull up a stool and settle in for a cocktail or two, and perhaps a chance encounter with a fellow traveler.
A characterful on-site bar can be reason enough to book a room, so Culture Trip’s travel experts have hand-picked six outstanding hotels with cocktail bars for your choosing. At these sumptuous lounges, hidden rooftops and retro-themed spots you’ll find tourists mingling with the Silicon Valley tech set as well as local creatives. Best of all, your comfy bed is mere steps away from a well-mixed martini. Cheers!
Hotel Zetta San Francisco
You’ll find neutral tones and industrial accents in the stylish bedrooms | Courtesy of Hotel Zetta
Hidden away behind a bookcase inside Hotel Zetta’s much-lauded British-style brasserie The Cavalier, Marianne’s bar channels rock’n’roll glamor in honour of its namesake – 1960s singer and pinup Marianne Faithfull. The violet color scheme, twinkling chandeliers and flashes of zebra print set the decadent tone, and its previous life as a hush-hush members-only club has bestowed an exclusive feel. Soak up the Standard cocktail (vodka, vermouth and cucumber) with a selection of signature small plates. Reservations are recommended.
Hotel Zelos’s Dirty Habit bar may sound like a destination for bad behaviour, but is in fact a glamorous spot to see and be seen. Only a few steps from Market Street, the buzzing thoroughfare that cuts through downtown San Francisco, the effortlessly chic fifth-floor bar shakes craft cocktails with curious ingredients such as aloe liquor, porcini mushrooms and oolong tea. Even the jelly shots are swish, in flavors like bourbon and lemon oil. Bonus: there’s a heated outdoor patio for an al fresco tipple.
The Tenderloin area is notoriously gritty, but in-the-know locals increasingly seek out the neighborhood’s bars for a bit of edge. One of the best, The Douglas Room, is set inside the Tilden Hotel – its glossy wooden bar and nostalgic bric-a-brac creating a cosy, homey feel. Cocktails are powered by seasonal flavors like vodka, blackberry and ginger beer in summer, with smoky mezcal and warming bourbon taking prominence in the colder months. Come for the artful concoctions, but stay for dinner – there’s upscale comfort food such as wagyu burgers, and barbecue pork with honey-glazed cornbread and slaw.
The City by the Bay looks dramatic from a lofty vantage point. Match exemplary cocktails with city views at Charmaine’s (part of Proper Hotel), which sits on the rooftop 120 feet above the melee of Market Street. Charmaine’s has a ritzy summer-vacation vibe, with lounger-style seats and fruity, fun drinks; they had us at Kissin’ in the California Sun, a peachy vodka concoction. Californian and French vintages dominate the wine list, which is matched with a menu of bar snacks including tuna tartare and churros, to sustain you between sips.
Hotel Zeppelin boasts not one exemplary bar, but two. With its exposed brick walls and gothic fireplace, the lobby Mantel Bar feels somewhere between a speakeasy and a suave bachelor pad, and is the place to relax after a long day exploring the city, perhaps soundtracked by live music, between 6pm and 9pm every Friday. Matching the velvety, 1970s-tinged decor of the hotel, the cocktail menu at Rambler restaurant and bar nods to classic songs of the era; try the fiery gin concoction Sympathy for the Devil and the refreshing Stairway to Heaven.
The Marker’s exceptional Italian restaurant and bar Tratto is a draw for many guests who book into this contemporary boutique hotel near Union Square. Try a pizza dotted with roasted grapes and prosciutto or poached garlic and truffle oil, and wash it down with a cocktail mixed with similarly bold flavours; Smoky Earth blends coffee bitters with mezcal, and Tropic Like It’s Hot has pineapple and sage-infused Aperol to balance the heady mix of chartreuse and white rum. Brunch cocktails are even more inventive. A Morning Negroni with cold-brew ice and Campari to complement sausage cannelloni or goat’s cheese omelette? Sì, grazie!