San Francisco: Insider Travel Guide

CNN  — 

San Francisco, California, is small by urban standards, a compact swath of rambunctious hills, windswept bays and rainbow-colored Victorian homes. But it’s seen enough upheaval for a town twice its size.

It’s a city born of opportunity and reborn of disaster. It’s seen booms and busts both analog and digital. And it’s been the adopted home of numerous seismic social – and geological – movements.

A view of San Francisco from one of the city's most elegant hotels, the Fairmont.

As a result, San Francisco is a crossroads of commerce and counterculture, suffused with noir moodiness as well as Gold Rush bravado.

Just remember that San Francisco’s weather has mood swings that are as complex. To avoid becoming one of those sullen travel types shivering in shorts and a T-shirt as the fog crawls around your ankles, bring a sweater – as well as these suggestions for experiencing the best of San Francisco’s hotels, restaurants, shopping and attractions:


Boutique: The Proper Hotel

Downtown San Francisco is home to some pretty snazzy tech HQs: Twitter, Uber, Spotify, but sadly the boutique hotel scene wasn’t really matching up until very recently.

Proper Hospitality opened the first Proper Hotel in 2017 (several more are in the works) and finally delivered the kind of high-design / casual chic that really makes this town a magnet for Patagonia-wearing, Tesla-driving billionaires.

The flatiron building in which the Proper is housed is over a century old, has 131 room and suites, with eclectic fu