San Francisco on a Budget: Where to Stay

San Fran hotels
Image Courtesy of Jeff Gunn/ Flickr. Editing my own.

Hi everyone!

San Francisco is my happy place. I love it to pieces, and one day I hope to move there. In the mean time, though, visiting there is all I can do to avoid missing it too much! I’ve been there three times, and I plan on going there for two weeks in January of 2016.

I’m not exactly Richie Rich. I’m a student who works in retail anywhere from 4 – 40 hours per week, and a large portion of anything I earn goes towards paying my university fees, buying food and petrol, and paying for bills and for my never ending book addiction. Still, however, I’ve managed to travel overseas every year for the past seven years – and one of the ways I’ve managed to do that is through finding awesome deals on hotels!

We’re not talking hostels, here.  I’ve never actually experienced staying in a hostel, because, whilst I’m sure they’re awesome and fun, I have the mentality that if I can afford a decent hotel, I’d rather stay in one. For me, the hotels are one of the best parts of travelling.

Today I want to review two of the hotels that I’ve stayed at in San Francisco: The Argonaut Hotel and The Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf. Now, before we get into this: I paid for these stays with my own money, and have not received any compensation of any form to review these hotels.

Firstly: The Argonaut. 


AKA – generally anywhere from $200ish – $900ish a night. Yikes, right?  In saying that though, occasionally Kimpton will have these huge sales and I’ve seen this hotel at $150ish a night (which is what I paid). It’s worth subscribing to their email list in order to get notice when these sales are – and if you see this hotel at a cheap price, grab it up!

My photos of the room turned out a bit crap because I haven’t mastered how to take a good room photo, yet, apparently. So, these photos are courtesy of the Argonaut Hotel, but I promise there’s no tomfoolery in these photos – the rooms are gorgeous and spacious, with a subtle nautical theme. There’s no tripping over each other or suitcases on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night in these rooms!

I LOVE this hotel. If I could live there, I would. The theme of the rooms is high end nautical – you won’t see any tacky fisherman’s hats here. The rooms are spacious, and the hotel has an awesome location – at the very end of Fisherman’s Wharf, with a Ben & Jerry’s, souvenir stores and restaurants flocking it on one side, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (where you can see some awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge) and the Cable Car turnaround flocking it on the other side. Starbucks is less than a minute away, and Ghiradelli Square is a short two-three minute walk.  Pier 39 is about a ten – fifteen minute walk away, Lombard Street is about a ten minute (uphill) walk, Union Square is fifteen minutes by Cable Car or a thirty minute walk, and Coit Tower is around a forty five minute walk. There’s no laundry room in the hotel, however, a number of coin operated laundry rooms are located within a 5-10 minute walk.

The hotel restaurant is high class and pretty pricey, but I definitely recommend it. It is mostly seafood, however, I don’t eat seafood yet I found quite a few options. Wifi is free if you join Kimpton Rewards program (which is also free), and there’s also a free wine hour every afternoon. I was underage when I stayed there, and from memory they also offered non alcoholic apple cider for kids and under 21s.

Ghiradelli Square, the home of the best chocolate on Earth, is located only two – three minutes away. Which, is a priority if you’re like me.

In summary: the Argonaut gets an A in my book. The rooms are gorgeous, the location is perfect, the price makes my heart hurt. Stay there if you possibly can!

Secondly: The Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Price range: still hurts your pocket, but is definitely affordable. Around $150ish – $350ish a night. I paid $150ish a night, but it was split between two people to make it more affordable.

Firstly the positives: this hotel is in a good location. Diagonally across from Pier 39, you can run and get the second cousin that you don’t really like very much but feel bad not getting anything for, a souvenir and be back in your room in around fifteen minutes. The room decor is classic Americana; red and blue theming with pictures of San Francisco adorning the walls. It’s a very clean, nice, look. There’s an IHOP right next door, so if you ever feel like a short stack in the middle of then night, you’re in luck. There’s also a CVS just a minute down the road, so if you’re like me and loose three pairs of sunglasses in a week, you can buy a new super cool pair straight away (which I lost last week in Sydney… Sigh 😦 ). The cable car turnaround is about a ten – fifteen minute walk away, as is Ghiradelli Square. There’s plenty of restaurants and shops opposite the hotel, but no laundry in walking distance. Boudin Bakery, home of the best bread and coffee, is a 7 – 10 minute walk, but that is the closest ‘breakfast’ place nearby, unless you feel like having IHOP.

Now the negatives: the rooms are TINY. I was sharing with only one other person, but even that was a bit much. There was a lot of hop, skip and jumping over suitcases to get to the bathroom, the door or the TV. There’s barely any room to put anything, and our two suitcases took up the majority of the floor space. The bathroom is small as well – from the door to the bathroom you can touch the shower, sink and toilet. Even the lobby and elevators are small. It’d be perfect if you were travelling alone, but in saying that though, it is manageable, especially if you’re only sharing with one other person. I really wouldn’t recommend any more than three people, especially if you’re all travelling with large suitcases. Four people travelling with small suitcases or backpacks only would be a little tricky, but definitely manageable.

Once again, I can’t take good room photos, so this photo is courtesy of the Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf. This photo is an accurate depiction of the room’s very pretty decor, however doesn’t show how small the rooms really are. In saying that though, maybe I just got a smaller room than most guests get. The room size is definitely not a deterrent to staying here, though.

Summary: The Radisson gets a B+. It’s definitely a really nice hotel, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. It’s not too pricey, it’s in a good location, and the rooms have pretty decor and comfortable beds, and you get free high jump training jumping over the beds to the bathroom. Seriously though, the room size isn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a huge issue; it just took some adjusting to. It’s our own faults for bringing too much stuff!


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