San Francisco’s Captivating Little Hotel in the Woods: The Inn at the Presidio

Surrounded by groves of fragrant eucalyptus on one side, panoramic Bay and Golden Gate Bridge views on the other, and soothing San Francisco coastline fog, the Inn at the Presidio is one of San Francisco’s best kept hospitality secrets.

Located in what was once the social and administrative heart of San Francisco’s former military base, the 22-room Inn opened in 2012 in historic Pershing Hall, the base’s former ‘bachelor’s quarters.’ Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America, the Inn provides a different sort of San Francisco experience – located close enough to the city action that most tourists seek, but nestled within a world of its own.

That world consists of 1,500 acres within 2.3 square miles of some of the most beautiful real estate in the nation. Within are miles of walking and jogging paths, beaches, a lake, playgrounds, gourmet restaurants, museums, and a commodity not commonly found in San Francisco these days – open space. There is more than enough activity on the Presidio grounds to keep Inn visitors entertained, but for those who do venture beyond the Presidio gates, the Inn provides a warm and elegant haven to which to return at the end of the day.

Melding history with luxe modern amenities, the Inn gratifies a variety of interests. History buffs appreciate the location’s colorful past and the artifact-filled 1903 Georgian Revival-style building. Luxury seekers enjoy the sumptuous furnishings and linens. Gourmands relish the complimentary evening wine and cheese from 5 -7pm, and the European style breakfast. And environmentalists value the Inn’s LEED gold certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.)

Inn at the Presidio lounge
Inn at the Presidio lobby

17 of the Inn’s room are suites, with large, high-ceilinged, comfortably posh living rooms with gas fireplaces. Large casement windows allow guests to enjoy the area’s refreshing Eucalyptus scented bay breezes. Two long verandas – on the first and second levels – run the length of the building and feature shaker style rockers. A large fire pit is the focal point of the back patio and is a convivial gathering spot during wine hour(s). The Funston House, a separate Victorian style home just down the street, offers four more rooms. Guests can reserve individual quarters, or the entire house, which features a separate living and dining room with informally plush Restoration Hardware style furnishings.

King room. Photo by Paul Dyer
Presidio Social Club Sunshine Deviled Eggs. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Beyond the Inn, The Presidio Trust has transformed the other Presidio buildings in its efforts to preserve the area as a natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resource. Building 563, for instance, formerly a 1903 enlisted men’s barracks filled with double-tiered soldier bunks, is home to the Presidio Social Club Exchange, a popular and convivial retro-chic restaurant known for crafted cocktails and hearty comfort-food, now open Thursday through Sunday for  lunch, brunch, dinner, and classic Sunday supper, all served al fresco on its newly expanded, twinkle-lit patio. Beer lovers will want to check-out the more than 100 selections at Sessions at The Presidio, where a large outdoor veranda overlooks Letterman Digital Arts Center’s park-like setting.

Presidio Social Club Patio. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

A plethora of recreational activities for all ages includes the newly reopened Presidio Bowl where a full menu of salads, sandwiches, and pizza plus 45 beers, ciders and seltzers, 19 wines by the glass, and a full bar stand ready to satiate. Reopened facilities at Crissy Field include indoor trampoline park House of AirBatter’s Box SF batting cages, swim school La Petite BaleenPlanet Granite climbing gym, the bike store that has everything, Roaring Mouse Cycles and outdoor gear specialists Sports Basement, for rentals or purchases. The historic Presidio Golf Course, with its Presidio Café, is also a great spot to while away 18 holes or grab a bite. Disneyphiles won’t want to miss the Walt Disney Family Museum, where Disney’s life is illuminated through innovative and interactive galleries.

Visitors to this unique region of San Francisco can find more in-depth resources at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center or the recently reopened Park Store at Crissy Field’s West Bluff, all within walking distance of the Lodge. The Welcome Center, located in the visitor plaza at the bridge’s southern end, is an interesting opportunity to learn about the bridge through special exhibits and remnants from the construction in the 1930s. It’s also a place to pick up park gifts and bridge merchandise.

Cable cars, steep hills, and distinctive districts such as North Beach, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf typify San Francisco’s image, but the Presidio, with its Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Field proximity, is equally visit-worthy. And the Inn at the Presidio is the perfect spot from which to experience this more pastoral side of the City by the Bay.

Inn at the Presidio Firepit. Photo by Paul Dyer

Don’t miss the Presidio Trust’s My Park Moment photo show opening September 1 and presented in collaboration with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service, and New York based non-profit Photoville. The show features people from all backgrounds across the country enjoying their favorite parks. From the 7,000 submissions received, 400 images were selected for the show by a distinguished panel of creators and community leaders. They capture the beauty of the great outdoors and the joy that time in nature can bring. The show is situated in four locations around the Presidio Tunnel Tops. Free, open 7 days a week, 24/7.

Photos courtesy of the hotel unless otherwise noted


Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.