The Hilton San Francisco Union Square is a great hotel and I would definitely recommend it to anyone needing a hotel near the downtown area. The Hilton Union Square is located at 333 O’Farrell Street at the intersection of O’Farrell and Taylor Street. The hotel is actually pretty large and encompasses one square city block with O’Farrell Street to the north, Mason Street to the east, Ellis Street on the south and Taylor Street to the west. You can enter the hotel from any street but the front entrance to the hotel is off of O’Farrell. The parking garage entrance (valet and self-parking) is located on the south side of the hotel (Ellis Street).
The hotel is within walking distance to all the shops and restaurants of Union Square and public transportation is easily accessible with buses, a BART station (Powell Street station) and cable cars nearby.
There are three towers to the hotel (1, 2, and 3). Tower one is the tallest tower and was formerly called the “Executive Tower” because that’s where the executive lounge was. But they got rid of the executive lounge years ago so the towers are just numbered now. The parking garage is connected to and has direct access to tower three. Because of that, you will get a lot more foot traffic and noise to the floors with direct access to the parking garage (floors 4 through 10).
The hotel is going through a renovation during 2014 with a majority of the floors already completed. On a previous visit, I stayed in one of the older rooms in tower three. It wasn’t bad but the new rooms are definitely a nice upgrade. On this visit, July 25th to the 27th for the San Francisco Marathon, I got one of the newly renovated rooms on the 30th floor of tower one.
As you enter the hotel from O’Farrell Street, you walk into the giant (and very busy) lobby area of the hotel. Think of it as a massive train station terminal. There’s a large open seating area in the middle of the lobby. The front desk attendants are located on the other side of the seating area. There’s a Starbucks to the left side of the lobby, a safe deposit room behind the front desk agents and a concierge to the right side of the lobby.
TIP: The Starbucks located in the lobby is very convenient but can get very busy. If the line is several people deep and you don’t want to wait, just walk out the front doors, turn right and walk across the street. There’s another Starbucks about 200 feet away next to Hotel Nikko. It’s less crowded and will be slightly cheaper than the hotel Starbucks.
The renovated rooms are nice and I really like the modern and minimalist design elements of the rooms. The rooms are bright, spacious and nicely appointed. The standard king room had a pretty comfortable king size bed, small seating area, desk, closet, mini-fridge, coffee maker, 32 inch LCD television and an enclosed bathroom.
The large windows had a perfect view of the city and the blackout curtains blocked out all the light if you are looking to sleep in. In this room, I had a city view and I could see the city hall building and part of the Golden Gate Bridge. Check out that sunset!
The one negative about the rooms is that the walls are paper thin. I didn’t hear my neighbors next door but I could hear everything going on outside my room in the hallway. And even though I was on the 30th floor, I could hear every time an ambulance drove by. Bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper.
The bathrooms are small and will be a little tight for more than two people. The sink, toilet and shower/tub combo are all located inside the bathroom so only one person can use it at any one time. Even if you are traveling with your significant other, it’s still pretty small and won’t fit more than one person unless one of you is in the shower. The bathrooms are stocked with Peter Thomas Roth bath and body products.
Other hotel amenities include a rooftop pool/Jacuzzi area and a fitness center. The rooftop pool is located on the 16th floor. It’s a small heated pool with plenty of seats to relax and lounge chairs to lay out. I didn’t get a picture of it but here’s a picture from the Hilton website.
The fitness center, on the other hand, is one of the better hotel gyms that I have visited. It’s a good size space and has a separate cardio room with state of the art equipment. There are plenty of free weights and an array of machines and benches for you to use. The only minor complaint is that the fitness center is located on the lower lobby with no windows or views to the outside world. Though spacious, this can make the place seem a little dungeon-esque and claustrophobic.
Did I mention there was no executive lounge here? For Gold and Diamond members, you do get vouchers for a continental breakfast upon check-in. Gold members get continental breakfast from the hotel Starbucks and Diamond members get continental breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Urban Tavern.
The full breakfast at the Urban Tavern is a whopping $29.95. The Diamond vouchers only get you a continental breakfast so if you want to “upgrade” to hot items, the upcharge is an additional $10/per person. It’s kinda steep.
I would never pay $30 bucks for a breakfast but it was doable for $10. The breakfast spread was actually pretty good with your typical hot breakfast items such as scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, steel cut oatmeal (with all the fixings) and French toast. But in addition to the hot breakfast items, there was a good selection of other items including dim sum, congee and lunch items including rice and stir fry noodles.
There are also your standard continental spread such as fresh fruit, pastries, cereal and juices.
Overall, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square is a great stay (albeit a bit expensive) and I would recommend it. It’s centrally located in the downtown area and close to a majority of the San Francisco attractions. I enjoyed my visit here and I would stay here again in the future.
The other Hilton option nearby would be the Hilton Financial District. Between the two, I would choose the Union Square location over the Financial District location. Though it’s cheaper, the Hilton Financial District is on the older side and is in desperate need of a renovation.
Have you stayed here? What are your thoughts on the Hilton San Francisco Union Square? Let me know in the comments section below.