The Radisson Hotel San Francisco

Map of Hotel ZephyrThe 355-room Radisson doesn't play up its family appeal, but it should. There are about a half-dozen chain hotels vying for tourists around Fisherman's Wharf, but the Radisson stands apart for value and convenience. It's both cheaper and closer to the wharf than the Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, and Holiday Inn; its heated outdoor pool is among the nicest in the city; the balcony rooms have wharf views; and Fisherman's Wharf is lined with family-friendly eateries like Boudin Sourdough, serving chowder in bread bowls, or seafood joints like Scoma's and Castagnola's. Since most people who stay near Fisherman's Wharf have busy sightseeing agendas and don't plan on lounging around the hotel all day, they won't be too bothered by the fact that the hotel occasionally skimps on its amenities. The hotel concierge is on duty throughout the day, and the polite but minimal service is what you'd expect at a Radisson.

The hotel completed a multimillion dollar renovation in 2012, updating the already-acclaimed pool and sprucing up the business and fitness centers. Guest rooms got a special touch, with each receiving a wall-sized mural of the Golden Gate Bridge in honor of the landmark's 75th anniversary. In addition, the rooms got new bathrooms, 37-inch flat-screen TVs, new desks, and balcony or terrace furniture to rooms with outdoor space. Eighty of the rooms have balconies, some overlooking the pool, others with bay views. You can request balcony and bay view rooms, but expect to pay as much more.

Apart from the pool, the on-site amenities hardly dazzle, but they're adequate: The renovated fitness center is small but fresh, with an elliptical machine, a treadmill, and two recumbent bikes, and the tiny nook of abusiness center has two computers and a printer (Internet fees are expensive). Additionally, a lobby kiosk lets guests print airport boarding passes for free. Rooms, however, still have free Wi-Fi.

The large pool, surrounded by palm trees and boasting an outdoor bar, is one of the nicest in San Francisco.

Even before its 2012 renovation, with fresh paint and updated decor, the Radisson's pool area was a lot nicer than a typical large chain-hotel pool. Boasting an electric firepit, a cabana bar, gardens, palm trees and plenty of deck chairs and umbrella tables, the outdoor area is a fine place to unwind before heading out to a seafood dinner along Fisherman's Wharf or on Pier 39. There's not much of a social scene, since the hotel functions mainly as a home base to guests looking to explore the city. On the other hand, the chances of having the large pool all to yourself are pretty good. The outdoor bar is a simple affair, serving beer and wine afternoon to evening. All of this adds up to a surprisingly well-cared-for space in a city where hotel pools are rare.

Across the street from the Fisherman's Wharf waterfront, the Radisson is conveniently located near the docks where ferries leave for Alcatraz, Sausalito, and Tiburon. The hotel is also about three blocks away from the terminus of the Powell-Mason cable car line, which connects to the farther reaches of the city, like Union Square and Nob Hill.

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