posted in Travel

Hotel Zelos San Francisco – Union Square : a Review

Today I’m sharing a review of Hotel Zelos San Francisco – in the Union Square area of the city.

San Francisco

Our family travels to San Francisco quite often since my son is playing on a lacrosse team in the Bay Area.  It’s just over a 3-hour drive for us… which isn’t terribly awful if there is no traffic.  It’s a beautiful drive over the mountain and into the city.  We’re always looking for affordable options for hotels in San Francisco- which can be tough to find!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

I found one!  Hotel Zelos is a hip, luxury boutique hotel located in the middle of all of the action (Union Square) at 4th and Market in the SOMA District.  It’s a 3-minute walk from the Powell Street BART rail station and 5 minutes from the galleries, museums and theaters at Yerba Buena Gardens.  You can also walk to AT&T Park (where the Giants play).  They have valet service, so you just drive up to the front of the hotel, and the valet will take care of parking your car for you.  Parking in San Francisco is not cheap.  It will cost you $57/night to park here.  Hotel Zelos does offer a “Park and Play” option: free parking + 2 cocktails at their restaurant bar for only $1 more than their best available room rate.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

The lobby gives you the first indication that this is a hip and cool hotel.  Animal print pillows and stylish decor are prevalent.  Hotel Zelos resides in the historic Pacific Building (est. 1907).  Since it was originally built as office space, the rooms are very spacious!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

My son and I stayed in a Double Deluxe room (2 doubles) on the 8th floor.  The room was quite large with a spacious entry and lots of room for luggage.  The beds were super comfortable– loved the sheets, the down comforter and the fluffy pillows.  And the room was very quiet.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

I thought these throw pillows were too funky not to share.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

A desk in the room was spacious enough for working.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

Hello funky wall art.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

So you know how you go to a hotel and they just have your average water glasses that are sometimes even plastic??  I love that Hotel Zelos trusts their guest enough to provide these chunky glasses.  I almost wanted to go out and buy some scotch to sip!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

Nothing super special about the bathroom except that it was just nice and clean.  I love when a hotel bathroom has a magnified makeup mirror so I can see what’s going on… they had one!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

I especially loved all of their Molton Brown bath accessories.  I’m one of those people who uses a ton of lotion for dry skin, so this pump bottle was greatly appreciated over the tiny bottles that are usually provided at hotels.  Their choice shampoo, conditioner and body wash were also in pump bottles.

Union Square SOMA District

Photo courtesy of Hotel Zelos

After we felt settled, we took off to go shopping.  Hotel Zelos is located in the middle of all the best shopping, and there is a wide range of stores within walking distance.  My favorite (Anthropologie) was only a half block away.  Don’t miss the popcorn stand as you walk down Market Street (Kettle Corn, Caramel Corn and regular).  You’ll also likely encounter a good number of street performers as you walk near the shops.

Shopping in San Francisco

There is a big mall about a block away too- filled with both regular mall stores and high end designer stores (you’ll see Bloomingdales and Nordstrom in this mall).  There is also a Nordstrom Rack across the street from the mall.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

For dinner, we tried the hotel’s restaurant and bar:  Dirty Habit.  It’s a happening place to hang out for locals as well as hotel guests.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

The vibe in the restaurant mirrors the funky vibe of the rest of the hotel.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

This gives you an idea of what you’ll find in the bar.  This table was just waiting for a big group to take it over.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

In the patio area, there are quite a few comfortable, lounge couches among fountains and fire pits.  We ate at one of the regular tables in this outdoor area that was set up for dinner.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

Dirty Habit is known for being a good bar with fun, craft cocktails.  So I tried one of their cocktails:  10 Seconds Flat (Plymouth Gin, Christian Drouin Selection Calvados, Strawberry, Sourdough, Peychaud Bitters).  Loved it!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

Here’s a peek at their tapas-style menu.  I’m so happy to have a (15 year old) son who enjoys sampling a variety of things.  The safe bet for him would have been to order the burger… but he did not!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

We started off with a loaf of challah with honey butter (OMG) and the Butter Lettuce Salad.  We liked all of the things IN the salad (radish, cucumber, apricot and feta), but neither of us cared for the tart dressing.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

Among the other goodies we shared and devoured:  Steamed Buns with Fried Lamb Belly and Peanuts (YES!), Sweet Soy Chicken Wings with Chili Vinaigrette (our favorite of the entire meal), Black Cod with Green Garlic + Turnips + Miso (enjoyed), Housemade Doughnuts with Rhubarb and Hazelnuts (loved) and a Chocolate Bombe with Raspberry + Banana + Macadamia (more my son’s favorite since he’s the chocolate-lover).  At this point, we were in a food coma and retired to bed quite early!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

The next morning, I found that the lobby houses complimentary copies of The New York Times + coffee and tea.  We opted for a quick breakfast at Dirty Habit because we had to head out to a lacrosse practice.

Chinatown, San Francisco

After a morning of playing lacrosse at nearby Treasure Island (it took us less than 10 minutes to drive there from the hotel), we cleaned up and took a walk into Chinatown (definitely walkable).

Chinatown, San Francisco

Brooks found a fortune telling machine like the one that is featured in the movie “Big.”  For $1.00, it’ll spit out a fortune for you!  I don’t think Brooks got a fortune that was anything life changing.  Dollar wasted, but at least we got a photo!

R & G Lounge, San Francisco

Our true mission in Chinatown was to find a place to eat some good Chinese food!  We had quite a few recommendations from friends- we went with R & G Lounge.  Since we were absolutely the only non-Asian folks in the restaurant, we concluded that we must be in the right place!  You can get good, old-fashioned Chinese food in this place, and that’s what we wanted.  We sampled Salmon-Avocado Egg Rolls, Salt & Pepper Calamari, Chicken Chow Mein and Mu Shu Pork.  ALL SO GOOD.  We learned later that they’re known for their crab and their salt cod fried rice.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

Our next mission was to visit the Golden Gate Bakery, but it was closed.  Apparently it’s closed pretty often, so you should check before you stop by.  We were told that they have the most amazing Egg Custard Tarts.  We ended up finding some pretty delicious Egg Custard Tarts to try at Eastern Bakery instead.  And we also visited Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory (it’s in an alley, so you have to look for it).  You can peek in and watch them making fortune cookies by hand.  Take a picture for 50 cents.  And bring some fortune cookies home with you!  The best part… they usually sneak some of the fortune cookie rejects into your bag– which is lovely because they are warm off the press.

San Francisco

When you visit San Francisco and you want to eat ALL THE FOOD… walking is key.  Lucky for your body, the walking you do is up and down giant hills.  It’s a nice way to walk off all of the calories you’re eating.  The food is too awesome not to try.  On our second evening in the city, we wanted sushi.  I was given the following recommendations for good sushi near Union Square:  Unfortunately, those places were completely booked for the evening– it was a Saturday night.  We hadn’t thought to make a reservation.  We did grab sushi at a small sushi joint with a basic menu.  It was okay, but not good enough to recommend.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

On our second morning, we found ourselves back at the hotel’s Dirty Habit restaurant.  Note that there are a few diners within 2 or 3 blocks of the hotel… but we opted to stay close and were pleased that the hotel offered excellent food!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

A peek at the breakfast menu…

Hotel Zelos San Francisco : Dirty Habit

This was our spread: note that my growing teenager’s meal is on the top portion of the photo and mine is on the bottom.  Active teenagers eat an awful lot of food!

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

And finally– after a wonderful stay at Hotel Zelos– it was time to take off. I mentioned before that the parking here was rather expensive… but the garage is very secure (and fancy!) and the service is perfect.  You can call down to get your car, and by the time you get downstairs to retrieve it from the garage… it’s there!

San Francisco

One last look at the city and the Bay Bridge (from Treasure Island).  We had gorgeous weather the whole time we were in San Francisco… which isn’t always the case.

Some things to note about Hotel Zelos and the area:

  • Address:  12 4th Street, San Francisco (close to the Bay Bridge)
  • Secure parking and valet available.
  • I observed rates for this hotel ranging from $190 to 500+/night- depending on dates throughout the year.
  • Free wifi is offered for up to 3 devices.
  • There is a small gym in the hotel.
  • Things to do:  shop, visit San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, explore Fisherman’s Wharf, ride the cable cars, go to Chinatown, browse your way through Haight-Ashbury and go to Alcatraz!
  • Chinese restaurants that were highly recommended to me (Chinatown): House of Nanking, R & G Lounge, Hunan’s Home, Great Eastern (for dim sum), and Mr. Jiu’s (upscale).
  • Sushi restaurants recommended to me in the Union Square/Chinatown area:  Sanraku, Akiko on Bush Street, and Hakkusan.

Disclosure:  Hotel Zelos provided a complimentary two-night’s stay + dinner and breakfast in order for me to review their hotel and share my experience with my readers.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Hotel Zelos as an affordable, spacious hotel room option in a great area of the city.

Hotel Zelos San Francisco: an extensive review of this hotel located in Union Square


  1. postedJun 25, 2016 4:13 PM

    I used to work fairly close to Hotel Zelos and went for drinks and tapas from time to time. It is in a really great location! Now that I am not in San Francisco anymore, I’ll have to now consider staying there when I go back for a visit!

  2. postedJun 25, 2016 8:00 PM

    What a cool place!

  3. postedJun 26, 2016 2:04 PM

    Absolutely LOVE the style of this hotel! Gorgeous rooms and art. Gotta keep this mind for our next trip to SF!! 🙂

  4. postedJun 26, 2016 3:06 PM

    What a great hotel! I love San Fransisco and would go back in a heart beat. Thanks for this great post and for showing me this funky hotel, it looks perfect!!

  5. postedJun 27, 2016 6:49 AM

    Hotel Zelos looks like the perfect place to stay when visiting San Francisco! 🙂 And how fancy is that parking garage?? I am pretty sure I have never seen a more swanky place to park cars, lol. The food at Dirty Habit looks and sounds amazing too.

  6. postedJun 27, 2016 9:20 AM

    Our oldest daughter keeps saying that she wants to see San Francisco. And I’d love to go back! This looks like a wonderful place to stay!!

  7. postedJun 27, 2016 10:49 AM

    I usually go to San Francisco once a year, so this is great to know about Hotel Zelos, as it’s my kind of hotel AND in the area where I always stay. Dirty Habit (love that name!) looks fab, too! How convenient that it’s the hotel restaurant! I’ll be checking it out!

  8. postedJun 28, 2016 6:08 AM

    What a fun and chic hotel! And the food looks amazing! 

  9. postedJun 29, 2016 5:34 AM

    Always happy to find a new hotel option in SF! This place looks well appointed and I love that mini challah loaf!

  10. postedJun 29, 2016 5:37 AM

    What a fun family trip! 

  11. postedJun 30, 2016 8:01 AM

    Lori, what a fun trip for you and Brooks! WOW! So many cool things to do in SF, and LOVE the hotel … everything about it. Very modern (love that wooden coffee table), and I’m sure the food was FAB!

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