For my recent trip to San Francisco, I intentionally left my first night without a hotel booking for the purpose of this article. I wanted to find an affordable luxury hotel as close as possible to Union Square in downtown San Francisco.
Finding a Last Minute Affordable Luxury Hotel in San Francisco
On the BART ride from the airport, I researched available hotel rooms on smartphone apps, like HotelsByMe and Hotels.com. I also checked my favorite hotel app, HotelCoupons, but results were not good for this stay; HotelCoupons works best for road trips. My San Francisco visit was a few days before a large week-long technology conference, which created higher than usual hotel rates and tighter availability (especially in Union Square and closer to Moscone Center in SoMa).
Most rooms near Union Square were over $250 and I wanted to spend less than $150. I could have settled for a dinky, cheap property a mile or further away along a MUNI line but I really wanted to stay near Union Square; and I wanted to stay in an affordable luxury hotel. Too much to ask?
During that 45 minute BART ride to Powell Street, I saw plenty of gorgeous scenery but also narrowed my lodging choices to a handful. It took me a few extra minutes to pick properties because no app had ideal features. The best I could do is sort by price and scan the results list for distance (looking for something within 0.5 miles) and rating (avoiding places with terrible reviews or overall ratings).
Very near the Powell Street BART exit is the official San Francisco visitor information center. I asked a worker in the center about my target hotels. She sneered or said “eh” for most but for one she said it was “close and pretty nice.”
So, that is how I decided that The Mosser Hotel was the best affordable luxury hotel option near Union Square. I also checked TripAdvisor reviews for The Mosser before heading there.
The Mosser made my short list because it is in a fantastic location (on 4th Street just south of Market Street), had great ratings, and the price was right. In fact, I did not understand why the rate was only $112, less than 1/3 the price of nearby hotels. To compare, recent rates at Hotel Palomar next door was $687 and Marriott Marquis across the street was $464. Did I undercover the steal of the millennium?
To find out, I walked a long block from the visitor center to The Mosser and entered the lobby. It looked like a clean and nice property.
I asked the front desk agent about the $112 rate (showing him the price on the app) and he said he had to check with someone in the back. He returned and said there was one room left. He explained that the room had a sink and there was a shared bath on the floor. Ah, so it was a Euro style boutique hotel.
In fact, my room was small but, on the other hand, ideal as I spent little time there—other than sleeping.
While I had a queen room, The Mosser also has single rooms for under $100. En suite rooms are available if you do not want to share bathrooms. By the way, I never had to wait to use a bathroom. Actually, I never actually saw or heard anyone on my floor; I may have been the only person on the 4th floor.
A really nice touch was coffee, tea, and muffins in the lobby in the morning.
On future visits to San Francisco, I would definitely consider The Mosser Hotel when I want to stay near Union Square, SoMa, or the Financial District.
The Mosser Hotel is located at 54 4th Street in downtown San Francisco, California. Check for best rates for The Mosser Hotel.
Please also see my review of Petite Auberge, where I stayed for two nights after The Mosser.