You’ll need some nice clothes to live up to the Clift’s thirties-era Redwood Room bar and the tragically hip crowd that hangs around there. Compared to the high drama of the Philippe Starck–designed lobby—behold the eighteen-foot bronze fireplace! The antler-sprouting couch! The oversize Louis XIV armchair!—the property’s airy, functional rooms (from $245) are mercifully understated.
For better views and a friendlier atmosphere, look to the two-year-old Hotel Vitale (from $279). Since it’s across the street from the Ferry Building, you can put your name on the waiting list at the always-mobbed Slanted Door restaurant and still have time for a bath in your room’s sunken tub. Request a circular suite on one of the top floors for a better look at the soaring Bay Bridge.
Organic fashion gets its hotel counterpart at the new Orchard Garden Hotel (from $169), where rooms are dressed in leafy-patterned drapes, Egyptian-cotton bedspreads, and sustainable-forested wood. After checking in, take a short walk to the corner of Grant and Sutter Street to the ultrapricey Torso Vintages, where you can gawk at a psychedelic blue Pucci full-length dress, on sale for $850.