When I decided I wanted to do the Bay to Breakers, it was easy to register and easy to purchase airfare (though I changed it later from Southwest). The one aspect that consumed my planning was finding a hotel. Even with the race discount at the headquarters hotel, it was still more than $400 a night. Welcome to San Francisco.
I knew I wanted to stay close-ish to the starting area so I wouldn't have to walk far, but it meant doing some digging to find hotels in my price range. After doing my research, I decided on the Hotel Beresford on Sutter Street. My room was originally $209 a night, and with my AAA discount, I got it for $169 a night. Much better than $400+! It also has complimentary breakfast starting at 7am every day.
The room was small, but tidy and clean! I've been checking bed bug reports whenever I book hotels now, and this one didn't have any reports. It also turned out to be a quiet hotel, which was even better. As a plus, there was a box fan in the closet, and I know it's something small to highlight, but I've been sleeping with white noise since high school. Sometimes hotel rooms can be too quiet.
The room had a queen-size bed, a dresser with a fully stocked refrigerator (which I did not partake in), a desk with a chair, and a coffeetable with two chairs. The bathroom was basic, with a small sink, and the shower had a small tub, but not a full size tub. It was perfect for me, even when I spent a lot of Saturday afternoon in the room, trying to rest my legs for the race.
You also couldn't beat the location. There is a Walgreens two blocks down on Sutter, which helped with my packing a little bit. I knew I could buy some liquids from there, so I didn't pack sunscreen or Icy Hot. I was able to get those there and not worry about cramming stuff into my carry-on liquids bag. I got breakfast there Saturday to have Sunday morning before the race. Even though breakfast is complimentary at the hotel, I needed to be eating before 7am to make sure I ate enough, and it was digested in time for the race.
The hotel's also two blocks from Powell Street, which has two Cable Car lines running: The Powell-Market Line, and the Powell-Hyde Line. Union Square is on Powell, a couple blocks south of Sutter. I even walked along Sutter to Montgomery to get to the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop location on New Montgomery and Market. The one place I didn't get to is Chinatown. It's close to the hotel, and I would've gone if I had another day before flying home.
There are lots of places to eat, including the White Horse Pub next door. Starbucks is across the street from Walgreens, and there are small restaurants and diners all along Sutter, and neighboring streets. I ate at the White Horse Pub my first evening there since I was exhausted, and it was easy since there's an adjoining door from the lobby to the pub.
Overall, I'm very happy with the hotel. There are some cities that are super expensive, but if you do some research, you'll find some very nice, smaller hotels.