Alcatraz and Pier 39 aren’t for everyone.
If you’re a budget traveler who prefers to blend in and immerse yourself into the character of a city, check out the Metro Hotel for great value and a glimpse into “real” San Francisco.
This is affordable, no-frills lodging in NoPa (North Panhandle), a hip, emerging neighborhood with a paucity of tourists in white tennis shoes and matching sweatshirts.
Unlike Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf, there are relatively few hotels in this centrally-located area, but instead you’ll find San Franciscans of all stripes hanging out in cool bars and hipster cafes, pushing strollers or riding bikes along streets lined with picturesque Victorians.
East of Golden Gate Park, the location is close to the Panhandle (a narrow expanse of green that flows into GGPark popular with runners, nannies and dog walkers), the Haight, Hayes Valley, and the Castro.
The famed “painted ladies,” a row of picture-perfect Victorians across from Alamo Square, are close by, as well as some of San Francisco’s acclaimed restaurants including Nopa, Bar Jules, Absinthe and Suppenkuche.
Within a block or two from the Metro, you’ll find cheap eats in a huge diversity of cuisines, a comic book store, yoga studio and specialty food stores.
The Independent, a nightclub down the street is one of the best places in the city to see alternative music.
The downside? Well, you get what you pay for. Rooms are small (the front ones are also noisy), amenities are barebones, and the floors slope in spots.
But the staff is super friendly, rooms are clean and all have private baths, and the hotel embraces their “green” philosophy tenaciously. The hotel is undergoing renovations and an update. There is also a lovely enclosed back garden, (smokers needn’t feel like criminals), and the stylish Metro Kathmandu next door serving Nepalese cuisine.
Rooms range from $76 to $130; with the largest room sleeping six in two separate sleeping areas.
Photos by Lisa Dion