I had to work in downtown San Francisco a while back for about 6 weeks. My hotel accommodations were fully reimbursed and the cost of each hotel was roughly the same on special negotiated rates, so I took the opportunity to sample the many SPG properties that are in the area. I plan to review the hotels I stayed at in this series.
- The Palace Hotel San Francisco Review – Suites
- The St. Regis San Francisco Review – The Astor Suite
- The Westin San Francisco Market Street Review – Traditional Room
- W San Francisco Review
- The St. Regis San Francisco Review – Deluxe Room
- The Westin San Francisco Market Street Review – Corner Deluxe Room
- Le Meridien San Francisco Review – Suites
I stayed at the Palace Hotel, which is part of SPG’s Luxury Collection, twice and my experience was consistent for both stays. The hotel itself is right in the middle of the downtown area – an excellent location in my opinion. The hotel definitely feels like it has some old-world luxury charm to it, and it’s visible as soon as you walk in the front door. The view that awaits you is the Garden Court Restaurant, which is huge and has some beautiful stained-glass on the ceiling. You’ll see a lot of red carpet and velvet ropes as well. It really felt like I was on the Titanic – opulent 1900’s-style decorations.
Walking around this hotel was fun but also felt a bit eery. It’s very quiet inside the hotel when you’re walking around upstairs, and the hotel itself is very large. The hallways are very long in this rectangular-shaped hotel, and with the somewhat dim lighting I couldn’t help but think of the movie “The Shining”….creepy! I was waiting for the twins to show up or a kid on a tricycle, but thankfully they never did.
Anyways…both times I stayed here I was upgraded to a suite without having to ask since I’m an SPG Platinum member, so I’d say the elite recognition is fantastic. I had rooms on the third and fourth floors in different corners, and both provided roughly the same experience.
The bedroom was well appointed with a comfortable bed and a couple of places to sit. There was also a TV and places to plug in your electronics next to the bed. The view was…not much of a view. The hotel is only a few stories tall so you were never going to get a great view, but being in the middle of downtown SF means you’re literally in the shadow of surrounding buildings. You can almost see what your neighbors are watching on TV.
The suite of course also includes a living room, which was spacious.
The living room was just to the right of the entry door. It was more spacious than I thought it would be (the whole suite was, really) so that was a pleasant surprise. There was plenty of seating, a work desk, a TV, and plenty of windows. There was also a coffee machine and stereo, which I thought was interesting but kind of fits with the rest of the hotel. WiFi was a bit slow but not really that bad, and the view was MUCH better from this room.
The bathroom was the biggest disappointment of the room, but wasn’t really too bad considering the age of this hotel, which is over 100 years old.
The only reason I call it disappointing is because of its size compared to the rest of the room. I was hoping for something bigger, but really this is all you need. The toiletries provided are Gilchcrest and Soames and there was also complimentary water. The shower wasn’t great, but on a business trip I really didn’t need much.
I didn’t have a chance to eat at the restaurant downstairs and didn’t have dinner in my room (no one should in SF), but I did order a nighttime dessert for myself. The berries with whipped cream was surprisingly large and the fruit was fresh. Definitely no complaints.
My biggest issue with this hotel is the noise that comes from outside. I mentioned earlier that the hotel is large, but not very tall. That means no matter where your room is, you’re still relatively close to ground level. If you get a room on one of the major streets, which is almost every street around, then it’ll get pretty noisy in the mornings with cars and buses all trying to get around town. If you plan to sleep in and this is something that bothers you, make sure you ask for a room on a higher floor away from the main streets.
Would I stay here again? It depends – for business, I absolutely would. It’s a great location in the middle of downtown, so if your office is nearby then it’s definitely a winner. If staying for pleasure, I think it’s a good value on points at 12K a night (versus a room rate that’s usually $300+), but if the street noise bothers you then you’ll want to avoid this one.