IT’S NO MYSTERY why the city’s A-list chooses to live here, in stately rows of elaborate and unnaturally tidy mansions at the crest of the hill that shoots up from the Marina into Pacific Heights. The view is all open sky and sparkling bay and (far, far below) pastel cubes of stucco that look like candy in a case. It’s the kind of vista that reminds you why you fell in love with the Bay Area in the first place. If only it didn’t take a deal with the devil or a major inheritance to land a piece of real-estate heaven here. Sigh... The good news? With the right hotel reservation and a few tips on the neighborhood, you can be a local here too... at least until checkout time.
Your key to the neighborhood is the key to a room at the Hotel Drisco (from $209; hoteldrisco.com or 415/346-2880), which, from the street, passes discreetly as an elegant apartment building. By choosing the Drisco over, say, the Ritz-Carlton or the Four Seasons downtown, you get a tasteful, comfortable room with lovely views on one of the city’s most covetable blocks, far from the Union Square hordes.