Hotel Rex Bar
562 Sutter (between Powell and Mason), 433-4434, www.thehotelrex.com
Downtown hotels are generally to be avoided. Busy, noisy, and full of people in suits, they're usually the last place you'd go to get away from the crowds. The unnamed lobby bar at Hotel Rex is different. Inspired by the San Francisco art and literary salons of the 1920s and '30s, it features distinctive period furnishings, walls of antiquarian books, and an eclectic collection of artwork that helps create an intimate, clubby atmosphere for a quiet evening drink. The boutique hotel attracts an older crowd of overnighters, but the regular program of musical, literary, and theatrical events — which ranges from Heather Gold's solo cooking/performance show I Look Like an Egg But I Identify as a Cookie to twice-monthly jazz concerts — prevents things from getting stuffy. Café Andrée, also housed in the hotel's lobby, is a great place to go for snacks with a French-Latin twist.