Doubles from: $65 to $95
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Reviewed by EuroCheapo.com Editors
Oh, San Remo Hotel, you had us at your downstairs entryway, with its historic cable car prints and lattice-work doorway. This two-star hotel is a San Franciscan treasure with a fascinating history. It has the feel of a homey, European pension, complete with shared baths, brass beds and greenery galore. The Field brothers, who own and operate the San Remo, have made few concessions to the modern age (read: rooms are very basic), but the hotel’s charm, central location and low rates speak for themselves.
Following the devastating 1906 earthquake, A.P. Gianinni, founder of Bank of America, opened the New California Hotel to house the laborers who would rebuild the city, and in 1922 the property got its current name (after the picturesque Italian village). It’s since become a North Beach institution, providing a haven to Italian immigrants, merchant seamen, Beat poets and penniless artists. The Field brothers took over in 1970 and fully restored the building, even paying tribute to Gianinni’s mission by granting rent-free shelter to victims of the 1989 ‘quake.
The Italianite Victorian hotel’s 62 simple yet lovely rooms are done up in mismatched local antiques (brass or iron beds, large wooden armoires...) and sweet, Italian-lace curtains. The owners tell the city’s history on the walls, through handpicked trinkets like navigational maps of the Bay and 1960s concert posters.
There are no televisions or phones here, but some rooms offer views of Mason Street and the spires of Washington Square’s Saints Peter and Paul Church (ask ahead). Do note that some interior rooms only have windows into the hallway, so ask for an outer room if natural light is important (the street is very quiet).
All rooms share bathrooms, which are dated but spotless, with stall showers or claw-foot tubs and separate toilets. With their black-and-white tiled floors, corner sinks (some with floral tiles), pull-chain toilets and wooden shelves with potted plants, these are some of the loveliest shared baths we’ve seen. Most rooms also have small sinks.
What the hotel lacks in amenities, it makes up in charm. Hallways and common areas are bright and homey. Stained-glass skylights let in loads of light, and the potted plants and ivy strung throughout add to the European vibe. A few inviting nooks offer plenty of books to peruse.
Wi-Fi is free in the lobby and there is an Internet station available for an additional fee. Note that the San Remo does not have an elevator, and reception hours are limited (8 a.m until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).
The historic restaurant Fior D’Italia moved to the hotel’s ground level in 2005 and serves delicious, authentic (though not quite cheapo) Northern Italian cuisine. Also within a five-minute walk is the seafood mecca that is Fisherman’s Wharf and the heart of North Beach with its rich history and amazing eats.
Note: This hotel was visited by a EuroCheapo editor and is recommended based on cleanliness, location, price and overall quality. EuroCheapo did not charge this hotel to be listed.
- Wi-Fi: Free
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2237 Mason Street
North Beach, San Francisco, United States
About the San Remo Hotel neighborhood
Wedged between Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach has a palpable buzz. From Grant Avenue (the city’s oldest street) to iconic Coit Tower keeping watch from Telegraph Hill, North Beach's many historic landmarks tell its lively and checkered history. Frenzied Broadway is lit up by popular nightclubs. Also nearby? Washington Square Park and a slew of literary hangouts.