Built in 1908, the Opal Hotel is one of San Francisco's well-known period hotels. It certainly has touches of historic charm. For starters, there's the baby grand piano, intricate stained-glass windows, and antique furnishings found throughout the hotel. It's these sort of details that attracts a loyal guest list from around the globe.
Other attractions of the Opal include a stellar location in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood central to cable cars and everywhere you want to go in San Francisco; and Mel's Diner, a step-back-in-time 1950s era diner. Let's see what the reviews say and find how why it's a magnet for some travelers to the City By the Bay.
With rooms starting less than $200 per night, you have to wonder what they are like. In three words: clean, basic and comfortable. Upgrade to one of their suites for extra space, a guest salon and plush sofas. All rooms are equipped with the basics — bed, desk, chair, sofa & television.
There are several municipal bus lines just steps from the hotel, one of them goes directly to Fisherman's Wharf. Also reachable by public transportation is the Golden Gate Bridge. Union Square is a 15-minute walk. Nearby are Japantown, the SF Opera House, the Civic Center, and the Asian Art Museum.
Mel's Diner is super cool, Daddy-o! The authentic 1950's diner that's attached to the hotel features the kind of menu that you expect — malts, milkshakes, and burgers — but with a few surprises like low-fat yogurt shakes, goat cheese and turkey sliders, and a California fruit salad. We can't get enough of the watermelon, beet & walnut salad or the San Francisco hot dog in a scooped out sourdough bun with cheese, pickle and onion.
The Opal Hotel has history and so does Mel's Diner. The year was 1947 when Mel Weiss and his partner Harold Dobbs made history. Mel's was the first drive-in restaurant in SF. The original Mel's was at 140 South Van Ness Avenue and was the location for Ron Howard's American Graffiti.
The original Mel's flourished into the 70s, went bankrupt, and was brought back to life in 1989 by another set of partners eager to reignite its former glory. And it has worked. Mel's attracts a new generation with celebrities Jimmy Fallon, Justin Bieber, P.Diddy, and Drake. Even Paul McCartney had lunch at Mel's.
Guests find the staff to be helpful and polite. However, they find the rooms basic — no coffee maker, microwave or mini-fridge. Breakfast is also basic — mostly baked goods and short on protein. What they do love is the short walk to the California line of the cable car system and other public transportation. Not surprising, hotel parking is expensive, but no more than anywhere else.
One guest has stayed the the Opal Hotel for years citing it as a solid, cheaper alternative to hotels that are $200 a night more. And according to her, even though the WIFI leaves a lot to be desired, saving nearly $500 on a two night stay is worth it. Another guest said that staying at the Opal Hotel felt staying at her great-grandmother's house, in a good way! The rooms are small but comfortable and the furnishings are much more pleasing than typical modern hotels.
Even though it gets an overall rating of only "Good", the Opal is a nice, tucked-away hotel in the heart of San Francisco. Don't expect luxury touches, this is definitely in the cheap and cheerful category of SF lodging. If you're into saving money and staying at a funkier hotel with historic touches, this could be your San Francisco home.
Superb Plus = 93%+ Travelers Rating
Superb = 88%+ Travelers Rating
Highly Rated Plus = 85%+ Travelers Rating
Highly Rated = 80%+ Travelers Rating
• Rating = Good
• Free WIFI
• 1050 Van Ness Avenue
• Neighborhood — Van Ness
• Serrano Hotel Union Square…
• Hilton Hotel on Union Square…
• Hilton, Financial District…
• Hilton Parc 55…
• San Francisco Comfort Inns…
• Hotel Metropolis…
• The Opal Hotel…
• North Beach Hotels…
• Beresford Arms Hotel…
• AAE Mithila Hotel…
Don't Miss a Single San Francisco Travel Tip — Sign Up For Our Newsletter Today