My husband and I stayed 3 nights at the Hayes Valley Inn in Oct 2012. I made the reservation directly with the hotel and ended up making 3 changes to my reservation. They were always friendly and helpful; and they never acted put out by my changes.
The Inn is located in an area with good restaurants and interesting shops just a few steps away. It is also convenient to City Hall, Opera House, and public transportation to anywhere in The City.
The Inn is an original victorian. Some of the rooms were more elaborately decorated than the relatively plain room(s) we had. The weather was unusually hot so we had to open the windows and found street noise disturbing. The Inn was able to move us to a room on the "back side", not as bright as our original room, but quieter. They warned us that there was an exhaust fan outside that room that made noise, but we were not bothered by the constant hum of the fan, versus the honking, gunning engines and general partying when the bars closed that occurred on the street side. That second room was a "pet friendly" room, spartanly furnished with simple bedding and without carpet. My husband is very animal allergic but had no troubles in the room. I consider that a very good testimony about thoroughness of the cleaning crew. Rooms have sink/vanities and each floor has two water closets and a separate shower. All of which were clean.
The Inn has no lobby, but has two common rooms: an informal kitchen/dining room and a parlor. Both were comfortable and a good place to interact with the other guests. The cold breakfast buffet offered a wide variety of choices (breads, bagels, muffins, cereals, cheese, ham, peanut butter, jams, fresh fruit and juices) and coffee, teas and coffees were available every evening until at least 9pm.
A few words about parking:
A car is not needed to visit SF and if you bring one parking can be a hassle. Realize that parking anywhere in SF is killer and unfortunately the Inn does not have any guest parking and basicially takes no responsiblity for guest parking. Overnight parking 7p-7a in that neighborhood costs about $30/night. That only covers overnight, you have to move your car or pay the day rate, too. If you are an early riser you can park for free at a meter overnight, but then need to go feed the meter early in the morning. About 3-4 blocks away is 2 hr non-metered parking, where you can park overnight for free, the 2 hours parking starts in the morning so you'll need to move your car by 11am. Another parking option is the Performing Arts Garage, which had the most reasonable rates in the area, but it is only open weekdays and when there is a performance. We parked there on a Friday, the garage was closed on Saturday (which was fine because we did not need the car on Saturday), but we could not have got it out of the garage without paying at least $50 fee to get the car out when the garage is closed. The garage was open on Sunday when we needed to retrieve our car, so that arrangement worked fine for us. But ASK and verify the garage hours if you elect to park there.