The Chateau Tivoli
1057 Steiner (at Golden Gate), 776-5462, www.chateautivoli.com
If the painted lady is the quintessential San Franciscan signifier, the Chateau Tivoli is the exemplar of exemplars. Built in 1892, this Alamo Square fixture has a history that's also distinctly S.F.: In 1975, it operated as the Center for Release and Integration, a major organization in the New Age movement, and was covered in friezes of lotus flowers and unicorns. In the late 1980s, it underwent painstaking restoration, which included the replacement of its grand oak staircase. Now the Chateau Tivoli has nine lavishly appointed rooms and suites named after folks like Mark Twain and Jack London, along with other personalities who paid visits at some point. It's B&B luxury with no holds barred — floor-to-ceiling adornments include hand-carved woodwork and furnishings from the estates of the Vanderbilts and the Gettys. The Luisa Tetrazzini suite is fit for royalty, with its frescoed ceilings, spacious private parlor, and balcony with parapet. Aside from the vintage suites, Chateau Tivoli's opulent common areas, courteous waitstaff, and cozy wine-and-cheese receptions provide guests with a generous dash of old-school style — yet you can still find a room (with a shared bath) for under a hundred bucks. Check the Web site for last-minute Internet specials.