Phoenix Hotel

Phoenix Hotel


This playfully renovated retro motel pays homage to its rock n’ roll roots.


Deep in the heart of San Francisco, a city of skinny Victorian row homes and thigh-aching hills, the Phoenix Hotel feels strangely supine, square, a relic dragged in from the interstate. But this old motor court has seen more than its fair share of fame. Kurt Cobain stayed here. So have David Bowie, Arlo Guthrie and Neil Young. Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills, and Nash) purportedly wrote “Carry On” between these poorly sound-insulated walls. And even though she lived in San Francisco, Romeo Void lead singer Debora Iyall reportedly stayed here just to get a horizontal feeling When it first opened in 1956, the motel was a swanky So Cal-style retreat. It fell into disrepair during the 70s and 80s, but the party restarted when Chip Conley bought and renovated the space, catering to big name rock and punk and alternative bands playing shows at the nearby Fillmore. He renamed it The Phoenix, offered free massages and tour bus parking, and voila — the Phoenix was hosting Pearl Jam, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Mazzy Star. Country Love apparently skinny-dipped in the pool.

Bunkhouse acquired the Phoenix Hotel in 2018, giving it a facelift while keeping the spirit very much intact. Guest rooms are funky, retro and minimal: bold blues and reds dominate whitewashed wood-paneled walls, a color scheme that mimics the motel’s central courtyard, where white-and-red striped cabanas stand smartly in contrast to the (heated) aquamarine of the pool. 


The Tenderloin is a scruffy, storied window into San Francisco’s musical history. 

If you love music and music history, and don’t mind the city’s rougher edges, check out the Tenderloin. Its long-standing be-and-do-whoever-you-want vibe has fostered countless concert halls and music venues, alternative art galleries, strip clubs, speakeasies and some of the city’s earliest drag and LGBTQ+ bars. The Tenderloin has also been remarkably resistant to gentrification over the past 100 years — “gritty” and “seedy” are recurring descriptors of its longstanding vibe (read: the opposite of kid-friendly). While you’re at the Phoenix Hotel, make sure to: 

  • Music lovers and music historians (heck, anyone) should see a show at the historic Fillmore theater (1 mile, 6-minute drive) Or the Beaux-Arts Regency Ballroom, which has hosted both Papa Roach and Chance the Rapper, and everything in-between (.5 miles, 15-minute walk).
  • Grab cocktails at the plant-filled bar Propagation (.4 miles, 10-minute walk), or splurge on Amaro highballs and Ricotta Strangulet at trendy, farm-to-table Italian restaurant Sorella (1 mile, 6-minute drive). 
  • Get gussied up to see a Russian classic or avant-garde masterpiece at the San Francisco Ballet. Nose-bleed seats are cheap, but make sure to bring your opera glasses (.5 miles, 15-minute walk). 
  • See a drag show at the historic Aunt Charlie’s Lounge (.4 miles, 10-minute walk). 
  • Head to the Castro to learn about and see artifacts from over 100 years of SF’s queer history at the GLBT Historical Society Museum (2 miles, 20-minute MUNI ride). 
  • Check out work from Tenderloin-based artists at Moth Belly Gallery (.2 miles, 6-minute walk). 

And here’s our guide to California.


With bold primary colors, neon lights, and wacky wall art, rooms at the Phoenix Hotel feel like an elevated version of your skateboarding boyfriend’s first apartment. 

That guy you dated who had a longboard covered in band stickers and built a Rietveld chair out of plywood? Apparently he grew up to decorate a hotel and it’s a vibe that speaks to the hotel’s punk and rock n’ roll past. Furniture is post-destruction retro diner. Desks and headboards are made from bright blue laminated plywood, each room includes a bright red rotary phone, and wall art includes old school concert posters from bands like The Who and Pink Floyd. Reach above the bed to turn on the red neon tube light, and you’ll feel transported back to the basements of your youth, noodling on an electric bass while hotboxing your best friend’s cat. 

  • King Room: These rooms overlook the courtyard and pool and have a king bed, a metal lounge chair and a desk. Can sleep three with a rollaway or a crib. (ADA-accessible King and Double Double Rooms are also available.)
  • Double Queen Room: These rooms overlook the courtyard and pool and have two queen beds, a metal lounge chair and a desk. 
  • Poolside King and Double Queen Rooms: These rooms face the courtyard, and are quite close to the pool. They have either one king or two queen beds, a metal lounge chair and a desk. 
  • Deluxe King Room: These rooms overlook the pool, but also have a private balcony off the back. They have a king bed, a metal lounge chair, a desk, plus a small fridge and microwave. 
  • Studio Suite: This 500-square-foot suite is one big room, with a cute sitting area (live edge slab coffee tables and a leather sofa give more record studio waiting room than skater boi — they have to grow up someday) on one side and two king beds on the other. It also has a kitchenette (coffeemaker, refrigerator, microwave). 
  • King Suite: This 500-square-foot suite has a separate living room (with the same live edge slab coffee table and leather sofa), a bedroom with a king bed and a private balcony. It also has a kitchenette (coffeemaker, refrigerator, microwave). 
  • Headliner Suite: This 500-square-foot suite has a separate living room (same set up as the other suites), a bedroom with a California king bed, a private balcony and a kitchenette (coffeemaker, refrigerator, microwave). The best part? This suite also has, for you true music nerds, a retro turntable and small record collection. 


An iconic mural-bottomed pool and easy eatery keep it old school rock n’ roll. 

Courtyard Pool

The red and blue palette extends to the courtyard, where you can hang out under red and white striped cabanas or in white butterfly chairs that ring the ovular heated pool. One of only two historic landmarked swimming pools in the United States, the bottom is painted with 69s, artist Francis Forlenza’s watery homage to Woodstock. 

Chambers Eat + Drink

Garnering OpenTable’s Voter’s Choice in 2022, Chambers serves familiar favorites like spaghetti and meatballs and crème brulée in a dimly-lit, wooden cocoon that makes you think this might be wear Frodo Baggins would hang out, if he suddenly found himself in Goodfellas. Look around at the floor-to-ceiling shelves and you’ll see LPs from the restaurant’s ginormous record collection.


Dogs can stay for an extra fee.