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Hotel Carlton
1075 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
415-673-0242, 800-922-7586

Global Economy
Easy on the Pocketbook in San Francisco

The exterior of Hotel Carlton in San Francisco
The exterior of Hotel Carlton

One of the things we like about San Francisco is the abundance of fashionable, nicely priced hotels. When our favorite Hotel Cosmo was converted into lodging for international students, we turned to the locally headquartered Joie de Vivre (JDV) hotel group to find the next great deal.

We were impressed even before we arrived at Hotel Carlton. JDV encourages calling your hotel of choice to make reservations, which means you get to speak with—gasp!—a person. We dealt with Gio, whose genuine interest in our room preference, Internet needs and arrival and departure time requirements serves as proof that customer service need not come with a high price.

The eclectic ethnic-chic lobby of Hotel Carlton Guestrooms at Hotel Carlton feature unique and funky decor and accessories

Just a few blocks from Union Square, the 161-room Hotel Carlton has an imposing lobby, spacious and stylishly decorated with exotic Oriental tapestries and sculptures that give it an "international travel" flair. There are two main seating areas; the one with a beautiful carved fireplace that actually works is the setting for a complimentary wine hour each evening.

Two quirky, very small elevators are papered with maps, postcards and travel photographs. Basic rooms are also small—but not tiny—and nicely decorated with striking images of foreign destinations and the kind of cool funky accent pieces that inspire the products at Pier 1 Imports. In contrast, the closets are huge—big enough to hide your suitcases away, and with plenty of hangars. Our ninth floor room looked uninterrupted to the Transamerica Building and beyond. Most accommodations have great views, because the building is not closed in. Amenities include free high-speed Internet access, TVs, safes, and hair dryers. The only thing we missed was a mini fridge.

As in many older buildings in San Francisco, the walls are thin—beware the snoring neighbor. Also, the bathrooms are small, and there isn't the kind of counter space we'd like for girlie accessories. But these cons pale in comparison to the pros: concierge, bellman, conference room and Saha restaurant, serving Arabic fusion cuisine. Another bonus: the valet parking package. With in-and-out privileges, it's a real steal.

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