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San Francisco Business Travel Guide

The San Francisco skyline view from Coit Tower

The Best Hotels, Restaurants and Activities for San Francisco Business Travelers

The Bay Area is a high-tech hub. Despite its size, San Francisco proper — population 800,000 — remains a major financial center, home to the headquarters of companies such as Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo, Gap and Bechtel.  Amid the skyscrapers of the Financial District, the majestic Civic Center with a gold-domed City Hall, and the department stores and design firms of Union Square, a cornucopia of accommodations, dining, arts, and entertainment possibilities await — a reflection of the city's diversity and standing as a destination for domestic and international tourists. From Chinatown’s alleys and a multitude of museums to the Ferry Building, much of what is worth experiencing sits a short walk or public transportation ride away from downtown.

Facts to Know Before You Go


Public Transportation - The BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, connects suburban commuters and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) travelers with the city. For Oakland, it is possible to take the BART to the Coliseum station, but travelers must then purchase a separate ticket and take a bus for approximately 20 minutes to or from the airport terminals. A one-way BART fare between SFO and the city will run you $8.10, and a fare from Oakland International Airport to the city, including AirBART shuttle fare, sells for $6.80. Locals refer to the extensive local bus system as Muni.

Rental cars, cabs and shuttles - Hailing a cab is easier in San Francisco than in most big U.S. cities, but a trip to either airport will cost between $25 and $50. A shuttle will be a bit cheaper, averaging between $15 and $20. Renting a car can be a great way to get around the greater Bay Area, but for city excursions, consider a cab, as street parking is hard to find and heavily restricted.


The San Francisco Business Times provides daily exclusive reports, business news and industry wrap-ups and covers San Francisco, Oakland, the East Bay, the Peninsula and the North Bay. Sister paper the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal offers business news to the South Bay.

The San Francisco Chronicle, the city's leading newspaper, also features a daily business section.

For mainstream news in the Silicon Valley, look for the Mercury News, the region's daily paper.

See GAYOT's guide to The Best of San Francisco

Where to Stay

InterContinental San Francisco
888 Howard St. (5th St.) 
415-616-6500, 888-811-4273 
A room at InterContinental San Francisco

This towering glass structure occupies prime real estate adjacent to the Moscone Center, one block from Yerba Buena Gardens and less than two blocks from the posh San Francisco Westfield Centre mall. On the ground floor, the house specialty at the lobby’s sleek, style-conscious Bar 888 is homemade grappa, while the equally as popular restaurant Luce (pronounced loo-chay) doles out tempting California-inspired Italian cuisine. The health-club — complete with an indoor lap pool — stays open 24 hours for late-night workouts, though the main draw on this floor has got to be I-Spa and the accompanying outdoor, heated roof terrace, where guests may enjoy daily yoga sessions. Among the other reasons to spend a night here are the ample business services, knowledgeable concierge and pet-friendly policy.

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
757 Market St. (Third St.)
A room at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco

Located in the Financial District, this property is close to everything the city has to offer, and yet it feels worlds away. From the spa to the pool to the dining room, it immerses guests in contemporary elegance and refined details. The 277 rooms include 46 suites, and there is an accommodation to meet your every need. The princely suites feature formal foyers, dressing areas, sublime views of the city skyline and up to three separate bedrooms. In Seasons restaurant, diners enjoy California style cuisine with a French flair. This hotel has devoted 100,000 square-feet to sports, fitness and spa treatments, and more than 15,000 square-feet to meeting space. Business services are also available 24 hours a day.

Loews Regency San Francisco
222 Sansome St. (Pine St.)
A room at Loews Regency San Francisco

In what may be one of the oddest configurations in town, this property occupies the top eleven floors of a commercial building, the third tallest in San Francisco. The floors, numbered 38 through 48, place guests above most of the surrounding Financial District high-rises. Take the sky bridge from one tower to another — it's like walking on air. The 158 lavish rooms and suites feature unobstructed views of the city and portions of San Francisco Bay as well as high-speed Internet access. Business services are located off the lobby. Brasserie S&P offers a casual atmosphere, while the The Bar at Brasserie S&P features craft cocktails and California wines.

St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco
125 Third St. (Mission St.)
A room at St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco

Next door to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and just minutes away from the Financial District, the St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco comprises the historic, early 20th-century Williams building and a 40-story tower, inspired by Rodin's sculpture, "Balzac;" the angled top floors replicate the statue's cloak. A refreshing, streamlined style with an emphasis on white is used throughout the hotel. For guests, amenities include 42" recessed plasma TVs and plenty to please business visitors: dedicated fax lines, Internet access, personalized stationery, work desks and safes with laptop and cell phone chargers.

The Westin San Francisco Airport
1 Old Bayshore Hwy. (E. Millbrae Ave.)
Millbrae, CA 94030
A room at The Westin San Francisco Airport

Fronted by palm trees, this hotel offers a nice bay-front location and quite fashionable rooms for business lodgings. Accommodations look over the west shore of the Bay and offer incredible views of the approaching jumbo jets. Décor includes imported white linens and contemporary touches such as leather headboards and custom-designed wood furniture. With high-speed Internet access and cordless phones in every room, this is a convenient airport choice for the business traveler.

See GAYOT's list of Sacramento's 10 Best Business Hotels

Where to Dine

1 Mission St. (Steuart St.)
San Francisco, CA 94105

Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco has a bulging wine list

The belle époque details at the entrance, mosaic floor leading to a bustling bar and Pat Kuleto-signature-style sculptured sconces definitely grab diners' attention whether they are expense-account locals out for lunch or dressed-to-the-nines tourists partaking in one of San Francisco's highest-rated restaurants. Boulevard seems to have found the formula for actually appealing to a wide audience and succeeding most of the time. It may be the high-energy room, which could make anyone feel they are at the best party in town, or the extremely well-trained staff who ease you from door-to-door and course-to-course. But let's not forget the seasonal menu, large enough for anyone to find something worthy of splurging. Chef Nancy Oakes continues to wow us with a long list of appetizers including a tuna tartare and carpaccio accented with ginger, jalapeño and spicy mustard, Dungeness crab salad with avocado and caviar, or plump scallops in a vibrant green salsa verde with Meyer lemon risotto. Grilled Angus filet mignon comes with the triumvirate of potato gratin, morel-sherry cream and sautéed arugula, while the Sonoma duck breast is served with bacon-wrapped with Italian chestnut soup and shaved Brussels sprouts with roasted apples. The bulging wine list is sure to have something for every flavor on the table.

EPIC Roasthouse
369 Embarcadero (Folsom St.)

EPIC Roasthouse offers majestic Bay views and moneyed allure

With its majestic Bay views and moneyed allure, this contemporary San Francisco restaurant on the Embarcadero is as impossible to resist (for those who have the means) as chef Jan Birnbaum’s N’awlins charm. Formed from a collaboration between heavy-hitters Birnbaum (Campton Place, Catahoula) and designer Pat Kuleto (Boulevard, Farallon, Jardinière), the restaurant is an oversize, dream-like interpretation of a turn-of-the-century pump house. Prodigious steamship components within the soaring dining room and second-floor bar are juxtaposed against vast windows framing Oldenburg’s "Cupid’s Span" and the iconic Bay Bridge. Yet the feel throughout is cush, detailed and pampering, with beautifully appointed tabletops and smooth and knowledgeable service. Birnbaum's seasonal American menu presents all kinds of big, wood-fired options, from lobster to whole fish and prime rib. An impressive wine list is a joy to peruse, and features roughly 30 choices by the budget-friendly "splash" or full glass. Brunch offers a no-less-indulgent way to drink in the restaurant, either inside or on the sweeping bayside terrace. Along with steaks, burgers and other hearty fare, fresh options include elegant soups and bright salads. Cocktails are creative, as with the Conversos: green pear tea infused gin, Lillet Blanc and Chartreuse. Large, innovative desserts from pastry chef David Thompson provide epic but balanced endings.

One Market
1 Market St.


One Market
One Market serves as a sort of festive, highbrow gathering spot for all of San Francisco thanks (as its address suggests) to its keystone location at the tip of Market Street, across from the Ferry Building. The lovely, expansive room and separate bar attract travelers, executives and locals looking to anchor their journey, deal or day with zest and accessible sophistication. Though the restaurant was founded more than a decade ago by chef Bradley Ogden, chef Mark Dommen has now long held the reigns in the famous exhibition kitchen (with one of the city’s most delightful chef’s tables), and can be credited with prettying up the memorable, seasonal, contemporary American menu.

Perbacco Ristorante + Bar
230 California St. (Battery St.)

Perbacco Ristorante + Bar

Owner Umberto Gibin's razor-sharp tie and impeccable suit match the precision of this two-tiered restaurant's expansive charm and style. The unique yet warm setting soars with exposed brick, red padded booths, comfortable, offset dining areas and an exhibition kitchen. Simple, regional Piedmontese and Ligurian flavors are invoked so well here by chef Staffan Terje that a native might shed tears of hope. Revel in the joys of rich salame al barolo, fatty and fennel-infused lonza, and the memorable ramekin of smooth, shredded ciccioli (pork pâté). House-made pastas here soar with their gravy-like sugos — the pappardelle with braised short-rib ragù and roasted chanterelles makes a person wonder how other places get it wrong. A separate bar menu and a short but well-chosen list of Italian wines and cocktails cull a lively after-work crowd.

Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building (Embarcadero at Market)

The creative food at Slanted Door brings California flair to authentic Asian flavors and techniques.

The move from the Mission turned out to be a permanent one. The latest rendition of the ever-evolving Slanted Door anchors the northeastern corner of the Ferry Building Marketplace boasting smashing views of the bay from its wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Light and airy, the modern dining room carries on the original Slanted Door's sense of style with sleek booths, light wood tables and curiously colorful art. An expanded bar and lounge is tucked away from the view of the bay with long leather couches and low tables. Slanted Door remains an atypical Vietnamese restaurant. The wine list has been thoughtfully paired with the food, the décor is sleek, the art is large, and the pastry chef turns out an amazing chocolate cake. Charles Phan's food is creative, bringing California flair to authentic Asian flavors and techniques. Crispy imperial rolls served with mint, lettuce, vermicelli and light vinaigrette are a perfect way to begin. The shaking beef, tender cubes of filet mignon stir-fried with garlic and served over lettuce is excellent. Beers and specialty teas are offered in addition to the wines.

Off the Clock

California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr. (Golden Gate Park)

California Academy of Sciences

Since it opened its doors in September 2008, the Academy of Sciences has been a must-visit for both locals and tourists. Highlights include the gorgeous — and green — design by renowned architect Renzo Piano, and interactive exhibits ranging from aquariums (where you won’t want to miss the albino alligator) to a walk-through rain forest to a planetarium show narrated by Sigourney Weaver to a unique "living roof." Allow a few hours to see it all, and if you feel like a kid again, don’t worry: That’s one of the best parts of visiting.

Bush Street & Grant Avenue


Rising from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire, Chinatown is perhaps the most authentic neighborhood in the city, still feeling very much as it must have a century ago. Two good sources, the Chinese Culture Center and the Chinese Historical Society Museum trace the demographics of the borough. The comestible center of Chinatown was once Wentworth Alley, where fresh and dried fish, brine-preserved eggs and produce were bought and sold. Now, most of the epicurean commerce centers on Stockton and Grant Avenues, where kitchenware stores, grocers and restaurants fill the air with enticing smells.

Presidio Golf Course
300 Arguello Blvd.

Presidio Golf Course

Built on the Presidio army base in 1895, this 18-hole golf course opened its doors to the public in 1995. The hilly course, with its tight fairways and strategically placed bunkers, is as beautiful as it is challenging. Between shots, take in views of San Francisco's famous Victorians, its dramatic coastline and the park's 100-year-old Monterey Pine and Eucalyptus trees.

Top of the Mark
999 California St.

Top of the Mark

Is it worth the troublesome parking, the long elevator ride, the sky-high drink prices? Absolutely. The top of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco hotel is the city's most popular view for a reason — it's stunning. Whether you're there for a sunset, a foggy Saturday afternoon or a crystal-clear night, the panoramic views are phenomenal. This is one of the city's most romantic cocktail lounges, and guests can expect excellent drinks coupled with live Jazz every evening.

The Nob Hill Spa
The Scarlet Huntington
1075 California St.

The Nob Hill Spa

Influenced by San Francisco's culturally diverse neighborhoods, the 11,000-square-foot spa's design elegantly mixes Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Victorian motifs. The gorgeous indoor swimming pool is an exercise in pure fantasy. It is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows featuring panoramic views of the city, and the pink glow from the skyline makes a theatrical effect. Unwind in the antique-strewn and Feng Shui-arranged spa, and enjoy treatments such as the ScenTao, the Green Tea Facial or the Bali Ginger Spice Scrub. Then sip complimentary tea as you enjoy an Ayurvedic treatment. Or feel free to try a yoga, tai chi or Pilates class.

Save with CityPass!

Save time and money on your next vacation with the CityPass booklet. It contains admission tickets to the city's top attractions at a substantially reduced price.


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