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Five hot hotels in San Francisco

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  • The 125 rooms at Hotel Tomo feature Japanese-cartoon murals
  • The Orchard Garden Hotel offers an earth-friendly experience
  • Hotel Beresford, built in 1911, has original woodwork and period furnishings
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Budget Travel

(Budget Travel) -- From Japantown to Union Square, here are five fantastic properties with atmosphere to spare.

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Hotel Tomo's lobby has vending machines that sell anime toys and T-shirts.

HOTEL TOMO

'Hood: Japantown, which is gaining buzz. Fillmore Street, a chic boutique shopping area, is a few blocks northwest.

First impression: The exterior looks normal, but the lobby has vending machines that sell anime toys and T-shirts.

Rooms: Each of the 125 rooms has beanbag chairs, glow-in-the-dark desk blotters, and Japanese-cartoon murals. Two video-game suites have six-foot screens and PlayStation 3 consoles.

Plus: On Tuesday nights, the restaurant offers all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu (diners dip meat and vegetables into a bubbling hot pot).

Minus: Tomo is becoming popular with families, meaning you may find yourself joined by lots of small children.

Info: 1800 Sutter St., 888/822-8666, hoteltomo.com, from $139.

SIR FRANCIS DRAKE HOTEL

'Hood: Union Square, the city's tourist-friendly shopping district.

First impression: When it opened during Prohibition in 1928, the hotel had room panels that let the staff deliver hooch to guests. Despite a renovation, the hotel has retained much of its glamour, and doormen still wear beefeater uniforms.

Rooms: Many of the 417 rooms are small, but they have features like curved walls. Perks include a pet-friendly floor and yoga kits you can borrow.

Plus: The Sunday brunch features a rollicking drag show. (When in San Francisco...)

Minus: The atmosphere can be frenetic, whether it's due to tour groups checking in piles of luggage or post-work partyers jostling their way to the lobby bar.

Info: 450 Powell St., 800/795-7129, sirfrancisdrake.com, from $139.

HOTEL BERESFORD

'Hood: Near the theater district, but bordering the still-sketchy Tenderloin area.

First impression: The Beresford is one of the city's oldest grande dames -- it was built in 1911 -- with original woodwork and period furnishings, such as a writing desk in a parlor off the lobby.

Rooms: Several of the 114 rooms were just refurbished, adding crown molding and colonial-style door frames. Hallways are lined with photos of popular city sights.

Plus: The White Horse Tavern & Restaurant, known for its generous filet mignon, is a favorite with theatergoers.

Minus: The "friendliest hotel in San Francisco" motto is a bit of an exaggeration (we're talking to you, front-desk clerks).

Info: 635 Sutter St., 800/533-6533, beresford.com, from $89.

ORCHARD GARDEN HOTEL

'Hood: Steps from Chinatown and North Beach, a historically Italian area, and home to the iconic City Lights bookstore.

First impression: Everything is earth-friendly, from the fluorescent bulbs in the hallways to the soy ink used to print your bill. The beige-on-beige lobby was constructed from recycled cement.

Rooms: The 86 rooms are done in muted greens and beiges, with headboards of sustainably grown maple. Even the toilet paper is recycled paper.

Plus: High-tech amenities include Wi-Fi, iPod docking stations, and (continuing the eco theme) key cards that turn on the electricity when you enter a room.

Minus: Leaf patterns cover the walls -- and anything else you can slap foliage on.

Info: 466 Bush St., 888/717-2881, theorchardgardenhotel.com, from $189.

GALLERIA PARK HOTEL

'Hood: Where the Financial District meets Union Square, next to the Crocker Galleria mall.

First impression: Renovated in March, the hotel's grand lobby is a mix of styles, with an art nouveau fireplace, '30s portrait sketches in pearly frames, and Victorian crystal skylights.

Rooms: The 177 rooms feel luxurious, with gossamer curtains, leather headboards, and clocks with MP3-player hookups.

Plus: A third-floor outdoor terrace and landscaped jogging track connects to the shopping center.

Minus: The hotel's restaurant is under construction. Walk one block north to Belden Place instead; Cafe Bastille has jazz on Friday nights.

Info: 191 Sutter St., 800/792-9639, galleriapark.com, from $149. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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