This family-owned hotel has gone from drive-by-stop to SF mainstay

When Beck’s Motor Lodge opened in the Castro in 1958, the nightly rate was $5.

The colorful hotel still sits on Market Street in the heart of the neighborhood, bearing witness to all of the Castro’s vibrancy: guests from faraway lands (like Sacramento and Reno, its owner said) cross paths with neighborhood residents and partygoers on the sidewalk out front . Browse files in and out of restaurants and cafes across the street, and every so often the familiar clang of the F Market streetcar sounds as it rolls past. From the hotel’s angular sun deck — which juts out above the parking lot like the overhang of a cliff, if the cliffs were mid-century modern and painted orange and blue — guests have a front-row seat to all the Castro’s charm.

“Back then, the Castro wasn’t as hip as it is now,” said Brittney Beck, the granddaughter of original owner Bill Beck and the hotel’s current owner. “The neighborhood was totally different. People were just driving by, which is why we’re a motor lodge.”

Though the neighborhood around it has changed — it’s now a destination instead of just somewhere to drive through, and the luxury apartments on either side of the hotel definitely weren’t there before — Beck’s still holds the nostalgic energy of a family-run business.

“We’re not corporate, you know? When someone comes in and they’re excited, we get excited, too. It’s a really personal experience here,” Beck said.

Beck's Motor Lodge in San Francisco on June 22, 2023

Beck’s Motor Lodge in San Francisco on June 22, 2023

Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

The hotel and its patrons witnessed plenty of history over the decades: The night Harvey Milk was shot and killed, his supporters held a candlelight vigil that marched up Market right past Beck’s. At one point, Beck said, there was a funeral home next door — through its neighbors, Beck’s saw the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and how the community came together during that moment of crisis.

“It’s really important for us to be a part of this neighborhood. I’m so lucky that my grandfather was like, ‘Hey, let’s build a hotel in the Castro,’” Beck said.

The Beck family stepped away from running the hotel for several decades, leasing it out to a property management company from 1980 to 2010, when Beck took over. She’d been working in the hotel business with her father and they decided Beck’s should be back in family hands.

The hotel received a major renovation, but kept its family-run feel. Longtime employees stayed on board — some have worked there for more than two decades, Beck said.

“I did the renovation because the bones of the building were great, and the location was great, but it was more like your typical motel. People in the neighborhood were asking for more,” Beck said. “So I took a while to talk to our guests and to my staff to see what people were really asking for.”

Beck's Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023

Beck’s Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023


Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

Beck's Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023

Beck’s Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023


Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

Beck's Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023

Beck’s Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023


Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

Beck's Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023

Beck’s Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023


Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE


The interior and exterior of Beck’s Motor Lodge in San Francisco. (Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE)

With the renovation came a refreshed property, both inside the rooms and on the building’s exterior, and a regenerated commitment to the community, especially during the month of June.

Pride month is one of the busiest times of the year for Beck’s. Rooms at the hotel usually book out months in advance for Pride weekend, Beck said, but this year has been different.

“This Pride, we haven’t booked up as quickly as we usually do. And I do think a part of it is what people are hearing about San Francisco,” Beck said.



Whether it has anything to do with the San Francisco doom loop narrative or not, the city’s post-pandemic tourism economy is lagging slightly behind the rest of the state’s. According to city data, San Francisco’s hotel occupancy was at 66% this past March, compared with 82% in March of 2019.

“It’s really disappointing because as a hotel community, as a tourism community, we’re doing everything we can. This stuff is just out of our control,” Beck said.

Despite the lag to fill up bookings, Beck said this year’s Pride weekend was “amazing.”

Beck's Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023

Beck’s Motor Lodge in San Francisco Calif., June 22, 2023

Lance Yamamoto/SFGATE

“It’s just what the city needs to feel like its old self. Everyone who checked in was smiling, chatting, brightly dressed,” Beck said. “Being right on Market Street in the Castro, our guests loved the location — easy to go to all the bars and restaurants in the neighborhood and easy to get to the parade. I love this weekend every year, and feel such pride to be located in the Castro.”

Beck said the hotel received several rave reviews the following Monday, with some guests even booking their stay for next year’s Pride weekend.

Along with Pride attendees, Beck said the hotel usually sees a mix of longtime returning guests and people experiencing their first visits to San Francisco. She added that the hotel also sees plenty of guests coming from out of town to receive medical care at UCSF, and that it’s rewarding for providing them with a soft place to land during that time.

“It makes you feel like you’re more than a hotel,” Beck said.



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