The toughest thing about planning a romantic getaway in the San Francisco Bay Area is deciding where to go. There’s so many choices — from historic hotels to properties with vineyard and ocean views — you might need to plan more than one escape with your sweetheart.
Featured Photo: Hayes Mansion
Opened during the Prohibition as the Sir Francis Drake, this completely renovated and renamed version debuted in June 2022 with a bright new design that nevertheless complements its storied heritage. Blackout shades and plush-top, gel-foam mattresses in the 418 rooms help bring sweet dreams in the midst of vibrant Union Square nightlife — including the Starlite Room, the latest incarnation of the late Harry Denton’s hotspot, due to open in early 2023.
*Readers’ Choice Best Romantic Hotel in the Bay Area
TIP: You can walk to dozens of shops and restaurants, or hop on the cable car for an exhilarating ride to Ghirardelli Square or Fisherman’s Wharf. Fuel up first with fresh pastries in the mezzanine-level Beacon Lounge, then return in the evening for a whiskey, dinner and live music on weekends.
Just off Union Square, a jewel box of a live entertainment supper club is one of the things that makes this hotel an especially attractive destination for a romantic weekend. Intimate and sophisticated, Feinstein’s at the Nikko features top name visiting performers managed in partnership with multi-platinum artist Michael Feinstein. The Japanese-inspired Imperial Club guest rooms have views of San Francisco and elevated amenities like luxurious Subarashi Ame rain showers.
TIP: Dogs are VIPs on a dedicated floor with its own pet terrace.
If a roof terrace with fire pits plus a baseball game sounds like a romantic urban stay, this hotel across the street from Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, is a home run. Consider spending a romantic evening under the stars drinking Champagne served with caviar in a cozy, intimate rooftop cabana. Retire to a park view suite or a courtyard room with a private terrace. The gym is open 24/7.
TIP:If you love sports, keep it going with Sunday brunch at Bar VIA.
The Huntington Hotel
There’s definitely something romantic about the cable car passing by this Roaring 20s-era hotel at the crest of posh Nob Hill. Romance continues in The Big 4 Restaurant with dark panelled walls, leather furnishings, candlelight tables by the fireplace, and a live piano bar for background music. Rooms and suites are Classical nostalgia and glamour come together in this property, known for its excellent spa and prime location across from Grace Cathedral.
TIP: Fresh air, anyone? The sash windows are operable.
InterContinental Mark Hopkins
When The Mark Hopkins Hotel opened on December 4, 1926, San Franciscans proclaimed it “architecturally perfect, flawless in its erection, comprehensive in its accommodations.” The hotel was designed by architects Peter Weeks and William P. Day to be a combination of French chateau and Spanish Renaissance, with a tower and outstretched wings that afforded every room a postcard-worthy view. And it has been a romance magnet ever since. Features such as the Top of the Mark restaurant on the 19th floor, which has had many renovations since its days as a cherished memory for soldiers, sailors and airmen going off to war, today it is ideal for that sunset meal with a view.
TIP: Features such as the Top of the Mark restaurant on the 19th floor, which has had many renovations since its days as a cherished memory for soldiers, sailors and airmen going off to war, today it is ideal for that sunset meal with a view.
Mansion on Sutter
Take a step back in time to a grand historic home, a reminder of 19th century fortunes made in mining gold and silver. This is the city’s only high Victorian residence turned into a five-star hotel. Admire oil paintings hung on panelled walls, chandeliers, rich marble imported from Spain and Italy to complement modern offerings such as Wi-Fi and a gym.
TIP: Luxuriate in butler service and personal touches: a complimentary bottle of wine, welcome treats from the pastry chef, in-room masseuse service, and more.
The Palace Hotel
One look at the sumptuous and classical Garden Court, and it’s clear why this turn-of-the-century hotel is part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection and well-suited to its royal name. Request a king-size canopy-framed bed dressed in luxurious Frette bed linens and bathroom with a deep soaking tub. The fitness center is open 24-hours and the heated indoor swimming pool has a glass-domed ceiling with city views, especially pleasing in the evening.
TIP: The Pied Piper cocktail bar is named for the enchanting 1909 Maxfield Parrish painting that adorns it.
The St. Regis
This is 21st century luxury with bells and whistles, but without the grandeur of Nob Hill. An enviable location in a historic building places guests in the heart of SoMa, next to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and right above the Museum of the African Diaspora — a quick walk to more museums, Union Square shopping and Yerba Buena Gardens. The recently redesigned rooms with soft gray and cherry tones have feather-top beds and spacious bathrooms; book a suite to avail yourself of free butler services, from unpacking and garment pressing to last-minute shopping.
TIP: Take advantage of one of three options for refined afternoon tea in the hotel’s Tea Salon, offered by reservation only. Couples may wish to toast romance with the St. Regis Art of Tea for Two, which includes a half-bottle of Moët & Chandon Imperial.
Taj Campton Place
An intimate landmark property in the heart of Union Square, the emphasis is on discreet, impeccable service. Book a spacious, quiet suite — the windows are double paned — and dine in with city views. Or reserve a private booth in the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Campton Place. Known for innovative Californian/Indian-inspired cuisine and a sommelier to guide guests through the outstanding wine list, the charming room even provides custom cushions for ladies’ handbags.
TIP: Cable cars are a block away, the hotel is pet-friendly and has free Wi-Fi.
Hayes Mansion San Jose
Originally a family estate that dates backs to the late 1800s, this historic hotel offers guests a long list of reasons to linger longer. Studded with palm trees and green grass, the Hayes Mansion offers 214 guest rooms and suites that seamlessly combine the urban sophistication of the Silicon Valley with a rich legacy. Recently renovated rooms and suites are modern with a regal flair. Depending on the room you reserve, amenities can include hand-carved furniture, deep soaking tubs, marble décor, balconies and a kitchenette.
TIP: Lounge by the pool or soak in the hot tub. A popular setting for weddings, expansive outdoor spaces allow couples to find space to call their own throughout the estate. Lush landscapes and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains make a convincing argument there’s no reason to leave the property.
Downtown Los Gatos is well-known for its architecture, stylish boutiques and restaurants, and the Toll House hotel is located in the thick of it all. Nestled at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, soft, earth tones complement Craftsman-inspired furnishings in the property’s 115 rooms and suites, ideal for relaxing evenings after days spent wine tasting or playing at the beach. Most accommodations offer balconies or patios with courtyard or mountain views.
TIP: Toll House hotel offers amenities modern travelers crave while holding on to the feel of a small hotel. Select suites feature a fireplace for a cozy stay.
The Lodge at Bodega Bay
Set on a seven acre stretch along the rugged Sonoma Coast, a majority of the 83 rooms (including five junior suites) at Bodega Bay Lodge come with glorious water views, wood-burning fireplaces, and a balcony or patio. Perfect for beach-combing or kite flying, Doran Beach is just a 10-minute walk from the Lodge.
Take in the sunset while sitting around a fire pit at Drakes Fireside Lounge. Keep your eyes peeled for the spouts of migrating whales as you sip wine or a cocktail and enjoy delicious bites like Brentwood corn bisque and wasabi peas. For those who would rather dine indoors, the menu at Drakes Sonoma Coast highlights seasonal, sustainably farmed produce, meat and seafood from local artisan producers.
TIP: The heated pool and infinity hot tub have sweeping views of Doran Beach. The spa offers a variety of treatments to pamper couples including a warm shell massage. Complimentary Electra cruiser bicycles are available for those that prefer to explore on two wheels.
Located in Marshall, on the east shore of Tomales Bay, Nick’s Cove boasts a dozen irresistible coastal cottages. Five are set on stilts at the water’s edge and seven across Highway 1 with water views, and all were renovated in late 2022. The cottages are the ideal place to happily lose a weekend with fluffy down comforters, wood burning stoves, heated floors and soaking tubs. Barbecued oysters are delivered to every guest’s cottage upon arrival and breakfast is delivered each morning.
Dinner from the on-site restaurant (also renovated along with the cottages) can be enjoyed al fresco on the long pier that reaches over Tomales Bay. Don’t miss the Dungeness crab mac and cheese! There’s a cozy beach shack at the end perfect for enjoying a drink by a roaring fire or watching the sunset.
TIP: Nightly bonfires are held on the property’s private beach. Hello s’mores! Nick’s Cove pairs homemade graham crackers and marshmallows with local artisan chocolate. (A portion of every Nick’s Cove s’mores kit is donated to a local educational non-profit.) The property’s immense garden, The Croft, features picnic tables, bocce ball and stunning bay views.
The Purple Orchid
When it was completed in 1996, The Purple Orchid was reportedly the largest Lincoln log structure of its kind in the country. Located in Livermore Valley, it offers ten rooms and suites with fireplaces, soaking tubs, and views of beautifully landscaped grounds including olive orchards, gardens and pool with beach-style entrance. Made to order breakfasts can be enjoyed in bed, or outside with a view. Nightly wine, cheese, and olive oil is also included with every stay. The onsite spa offers an array of treatment options including massages and body scrubs, as well as a selection of spa packages for couples.
TIP: A peaceful retreat, The Purple Orchid is surrounded by 24 acres of olive trees. The Wilderness Retreat King Suite is The Purple Orchid’s most popular accommodation for romantic getaways. The suite features sunset views over rolling hills, fireplace, and a tub large enough for two.
The Rose Hotel
When you first step into the lobby at The Rose Hotel, it’s like you’re taking a graceful and elegant step back in time. The grand lobby staircase leads the way to spacious rooms and suites, all with a relaxing mix of old warm charm, modern luxuries, and fresh cut rose. The cozy Fireplace Suite features a king size bed, fireplace, leather lounge sofa, and walk-in shower. The lobby is an intimate space to enjoy a cocktail in the evening, come morning it hosts a complimentary Continental breakfast with smoked salmon, pastries and fresh fruit.
2021 is the hotel’s 20th anniversary. It owned by local resident John Madden, the well-known NFL football coach and sportscaster.
TIP: Located on picturesque Main Street, The Rose Hotel has a European feel with bouquets of roses and a constantly replenished cookie jar. The hotel is an easy stroll to the numerous shops, art galleries and restaurants in downtown Pleasanton. You’ll park your car when you arrive and then happily forget about it.