The great thing about San Francisco — besides the great food, beautiful scenery and countless tourist attractions — is that it has a ton of hotels to choose from. This also means a countless number of rooms that San Francisco hotels are constantly trying to fill.
During busy tourist times in the city such as summer and special events like Pride, those hotels rooms easily fill up. But during the down time, the hotels are pretty desperate to get those hotel rooms off of their hands. So how can you benefit from this?
Timing Is Everything
When you plan a trip to San Francisco, the time of year you go can greatly determine the price you are going to pay for your hotel. One of the most popular times to visit San Francisco is during the summer, because kids are on vacation from school and tourists believe that the city will be warm like the rest of the country. The reality is that summers in San Francisco are usually very foggy and cold. The best time of year to visit is during spring and fall, just after August, when the temperatures are warmer and there are less tourists.
There are also certain times of the year that are popular because of major events. You should always avoid San Francisco during Gay Pride week, which is usually at the end of June, since it attracts more than 1 million people to the city. Another time to avoid is the Chinese New Year, since it is a big event in the city and draws large crowds. Other weekends that are good to avoid include Fleet Week, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Outside Lands, and other large music festivals. Although hotel prices are often cheaper, it might be a good idea to avoid the rainy season as well, which usually runs from November until the end of March. However, if you are looking for the cheapest prices on hotel stays and don’t mind the rain, this might be a good time to visit.
Pick the Right Neighborhood
Knowing which neighborhood to stay in can also help you find a hotel that is cheaper, but still in a nice part of San Francisco. In general, it is a good idea to avoid any hotels in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, as their prices are usually much higher since it is a very popular tourist area. Even if you want to visit the Wharf, it is much easier to find a nice hotel In Union Square or near the Ferry Building and take the trolley to the wharf. Union Square and the area near the Ferry Building have a large amount of hotels, so they are always looking to fill rooms.
One of the best areas to find deals is the Knob Hill area. This area includes some of the nicest hotels in San Francisco but is often overlooked because it is harder to get to since it is on top of the hill. If you are willing to forgo walking and don’t mind taking cabs or public transportation, this is a good area to look for hotel.
Other areas you should avoid include the Civic Center and Tenderloin, which are very close to Union Square, and the South of Market (SOMA) district. These areas have a lot of accommodations, and even some very nice hotels, but are in undesirable neighborhoods. These rooms will be cheap, but will come at a price.
Name Your Price on Priceline … Seriously
San Francisco is one of the best places that benefits from the Priceline Name-Your-Price feature. They have a ton of hotel rooms they have to get rid of, and all of the hotels are clustered in a few touristy neighborhoods, so you know you won’t end up in the middle of nowhere. If you pick a time to travel to San Francisco that is not a high-traffic weekend or season, you can get a room for up to 75% off. I’ve booked a 4-star hotel in Union Square on a Saturday for around $70 many times.