The Golden City of San Francisco revels in its elegance and American charm, and there is no shortage of luxury hotels. Take your pick for classy architecture, historic locations, gorgeous views, inspired decor and amenities to make your stay in the city of the Golden Gate Bridge all the more memorable.
The Emblem Hotel will inspire you. The creatively minded will relish touches like typewriters in rooms, a pinboard for scribbled notes, and Crossley record players. A book butler and an underground concierge can provide customised recommendations. The beat-style decor is colourful but not clashing. Rooms are inviting, with monochrome bathrooms and cozy robes. The dimly lit Obscenity Bar has snacks, shared plates, and themed cocktails, along with live jazz and poetry slams. Guests are welcomed with refreshments and hot towels at check-in.
Delicately resting atop Nob Hill, with views over the jewel box of San Francisco, is the grande dame that is the Fairmont. An elegant ambience wafts through the hotel like perfume. Rooms are decorated in soothing colours with picture windows looking over the bay or Downtown. Some suites come with telescopes or balconies. The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is a tiki-style bar with live entertainment, for a fun night, while the Laurel Court Bar & Restaurant is like stepping into a Monet painting.
Stepping inside the aptly named Palace Hotel is like going back in time. It was San Francisco’s first luxury hotel, established in 1875. The hotel oozes class, and there is a heated indoor pool with magnificent glass ceiling. The majestically gilded Garden Court is known for its Signature Tea experience or City Brunch, while the Pied Piper restaurant is inspired by the Maxfield Parrish painting that hangs above the bar. Rooms are decadent with Frette linens, leather headboards, and views of Downtown.
This graceful Victorian mansion was built in 1881 as a residence for the Payne family before becoming a boutique hotel. The owner’s personal art collection, gathered on their travels, hangs throughout the hotel, along with sparkling chandeliers, creating an old-world air of refinement. Rooms are individually furnished with whimsical names like the Champagne Room and Joie de Vivre and guests are treated to a complimentary bottle of wine and home-baked goodies. Breakfast and tea and coffee service is offered.
The pristine St Regis is next door to the Museum of Modern Art, and a quick walk from Union Square. The soothing, neutral-toned rooms have interesting pops of colour and texture with aubergine pillows, leather walls, and artwork. The deep tubs are perfect for soaking, and showers have a rainfall showerhead. Guests staying in suites enjoy the added luxury of their own butler. Take high tea in the pleasant lobby lounge or dine at the Grill restaurant, and do be sure to sample a signature bloody mary cocktail.
Visitors to lively Ghirardelli Square will find themselves drawn to the handsome facade of the all-suite Fairmont Heritage Place, former home of Ghirardelli chocolate factory. The grand, modern suites have one, two, or three bedrooms, with full kitchens, decorative fireplaces, brick accent walls, and bay or city views. The hotel offers a complimentary one-hour bike rental, terraces with fire pits for watching sunset over the bay, and in-suite dining through partner restaurants. Personalised grocery shopping is even available for a fee.
Twenty minutes from Downtown in Sausalito is the historic Cavallo Point Lodge, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. The Lodge offers contrasting styles of accommodation: historic and contemporary. You can snuggle in front of the fireplace while gazing out at the Golden Gate Bridge in the contemporary lodging. The beautifully restored historic lodging, meanwhile, looks out over the city skyline or bay, and some suites and rooms have front porches. At the spa, visitors can enjoy a massage or facial and then slip into the outdoor, heated meditation pool beneath the pines.
Built in 1902 as upscale officers’ quarters for single gentlemen, this stately hotel is perfect for visits to Golden Gate Park. Afternoons can be spent appreciating the complimentary wine and cheese while relaxing in a rocking chair on the front porch. An expanded continental breakfast is also included, with granola, pastries, fresh fruit, and boiled eggs. Finish your evening on the patio around the cosy fire pit. The spacious rooms are warm and inviting; suites come with their own gas fireplaces.