san francisco Travel Guide
Before and After / Hotel Renovations / San Francisco Hotels / Luxury Collection Hotels / Starwood Hotels / → All Tags
We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.
When we think of The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, we think of its rather splendid Garden Court. What is now the Garden Court once was the Grand Court, an open air carriage entrance in the original Palace Hotel, which burned down in the 1906 earthquake that destroyed 80% of the city (for more on its long history, go here).
As much as we immediately think of the Garden Court, less of an instant image comes to mind when we think of the rest of hotel, including its guestrooms. Or at least we did, until we saw what The Palace is doing to its rooms this year, grabbing 2015 by the horns to bring them up to date in a big way. See both before and after below.
Karaoke Rooms / Hilton Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / Hotel Lounges / Hotel Club Lounges / HHonors / → All Tags
There are lots of April Fools jokes flying around today but this is not a joke.
The Hilton San Francisco Financial District really does have its own karaoke room on site.
Located on the lobby level near the meeting rooms, the Karaoke Room costs around $1,000 to rent out for several hours. You can have food and drink placed in the room as well, but at an extra charge.
The set-up is a groovy modern lounge, not unlike many common areas found in tech start-ups, and your gear includes four microphones, an iPad stand for reading lyrics (or playing songs not in the system), a small TV and even a semi-professional sound system. (You know, the ones that will minimize the horrible drunk singing voices.)
Um, yes. Do we really need to say anything more? Ok, we'll say just a little bit more about this stunning view of Coit Tower and the San Francisco Bay from the Hilton San Francisco Financial District.
This is the view from one of the Premium Bay View Rooms which are located on the 20th through 25th floors. There are city views on these floors as well that are just as interesting, especially since the hotel overlooks Chinatown ,but really, it's all about the bay here. Fingers crossed for a clear and sunny day!
All rooms at the Hilton SF FD feature 32" flat screen TVs, a long desk for working and tea and coffee makers. Best of all, you don't need Zuckerberg dollars to stay here as we found a bay view room for this weekend for just $239 a night.
Hilton Huanying / Hilton Worldwide / Chinese Amenities / San Francisco Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
Back in 2011, Hilton Worldwide began welcoming the emerging class of Chinese travelers with their Hilton Huanying program, which itself means “Welcome” in Mandarin. In the nearly four years since it was introduced, the program has grown from 30 Hilton hotels to 113 in 32 countries and 65 cities. Hilton Huanying has also "huanyinged" over a million independent Chinese travelers at not just Hilton Hotels but also Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and DoubleTree by Hilton.
Because of this popularity, and the expected growth of Chinese travelers around the world (to about 200 million travelers by 2020), the offerings of the program are expanding as well.
When it first launched, Hilton Huanying gave Chinese guests a welcome letter in simplified Chinese at check-in, tea kettles ands slippers placed in the guest rooms, dedicated Mandarin channels on the TV, along with a few traditional Chinese breakfast offerings downstairs such as congee and dim sum.
Today, guests will still get all of the above but the breakfast offerings have expanded and more importantly, Hilton will offer 24-hour translation phone service in case a Mandarin-speaking Hilton team member is not on site.
Best of all, the program is at no extra cost to the Chinese traveler. Not a bad deal.
Below are some photos of what the Huanying presentation looks like at the Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront Hotel and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, a property that sees around 800 Chinese guests within a specific three-week window, and many more throughout the year. This Hilton Hotel was also one of the first Hiltons to begin offering special services for Chinese guests in 2008. These services later made up some of the official components of the Hilton Huanying program.
Hotel Scams / Car Services / Business Travel Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / Hotel Safety / → All Tags
Business travelers in San Francisco and other big cities, get off your phones and pay close attention when leaving your hotel.
The other day this editor had an early morning flight out of San Francisco that required me to leave the hotel at 6:30am. Thankfully, I had a car service set up so that I could get some extra sleep in the morning, rather than wake up even earlier to take public transportation.
Still, when I stepped out of the hotel that morning at 6:35am, I didn't feel entirely awake. Not helping the situation were three black cars idling in front of the Hilton San Francisco in Union Square. A driver of one of the town cars had his back to me and was on the phone while holding a sheet of paper. The bellman asked me which car service I had arranged. I mentioned the name, then he asked for my last name, and suddenly, the man on the phone piped up and said “Ah yes!” and then said into the phone, “I found the customer.” I apologized for being a few minutes late, and got into the car.
As I sat down, the hotel’s bellman said, “Are you sure this is the right car service?” I asked the driver if he had my name on the paper he was holding in his hand. He stalled in answering me. At that moment, a man in a sharp suit walked up to the car (my door was still open) and said my name. I said, “Yes?” and he said he was from the car service that was ordered. I was in the wrong car.
The San Francisco hotel scene continues to be upgraded. The Westin Market Street hotel is no longer. Well, of course, the building and hotel still exist, however it is now going by the new name Park Central Hotel.
The change happened in late January when LaSalle Hotel Properties purchased the 681-room hotel and installed Highgate Hotel to manage it. The property will undergo only "modest renovations" and the restaurant MaSo will stay in place. The hotel will focus on bringing in some new programs and new partnerships with local affiliations.
As for the WiFi, which was free in the lobby and pay in the guest rooms under Westin, the Park Central plans on keeping it status quo.
Change is definitely in the foggy air for San Francisco's hotel scene. Last week, we told you about a newcomer to Fisherman's Wharf, Hotel Zephyr, along with a few other changes like the Loews taking over Mandarin Oriental and a new hotel brand, Proper Hotels, launching later this summer.
Now, we have word that the Powell Hotel in Union Square will transform into The Axiom Hotel. Host Hotels & Resorts bought the hotel last year and closed it in December to begin renovations. When The Axiom debuts in the fall, it will have 152 rooms, managed by Kokua Hospitality.
Above is the sample layout for a guest room at Axiom and below is a look at some rough sketches of the hotel's new look, which is being created by prolific hotel designers, Stonehill + Taylor:
San Francisco Hotels / Fisherman's Wharf Hotels / Millennial Hotels / Hotel Renovations / Hotel Rebrandings / → All Tags
Fly away on my zephyr...
While seemingly every other city in the United States has been riding the hotel boom of the past few years, San Francisco has been lagging, with only a handful of new hotels to show off. But change is in the air. SF is now Hot AF.
We've just heard about the major rebranding of the Mandarin Oriental into a Loews Hotel. Before that, the founders of Viceroy Hotels announced their new brand, Proper Hotels, will open their first hotel in the mid-Market neighborhood by the end of the year.
There are also lots of re-brandings and transformations of several properties happening throughout the city, including this one.
The Radisson Fisherman's Wharf is undergoing a major "re-imagination" to emerge as the Hotel Zephyr, operated by Davidson Hotels & Resorts. Yes, it's totally a millennial hotel but we'd take that over a Radisson any day.
Loews Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / Hotel Rebrandings / Mandarin Oriental Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
2015 is going swimmingly for Loews Hotels. The Loews Chicago is just a few weeks away from opening its doors while the crazysexycool OE Collection is coming together and now, Loews is keeping on with its growth spurt by purchasing the 158-room Mandarin Oriental San Francisco in the city's financial district.
The deal is expected to close in late March which means a name change will happen shortly after that. Given that the hotel was just renovated in 2012, we're not so sure an extensive renovation is needed but we suspect Loews will go through the property and touch up what they can.
We're sad to lose a Mandarin Oriental for the West Coast (the only other one now is in Las Vegas) but Loews is on an exciting trajectory so we'll have to put our faith in them. Besides, nothing can change this killer view from the guest rooms.
Looking for one last night with MOSF? Rates this weekend start at $359 a night with a $50 dining credit.
It might be hard to believe this but up until a few weeks ago, the Westin St. Francis in touristy Union Square in touristy San Francisco had something no one else in America had--a Goyard boutique.
If you're not familiar, Goyard is one of the oldest luxury "trunk maker" from Paris that's still in business. But today instead of trunks, they are most well-known for their pricey colorful tote bags in the signature Goyard print (monogramming is available too and recommended.)
While several high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Barney's in New York, Boston and Beverly Hills carry Goyard bags, the Goyard San Francisco store was the only actual Goyard boutique in America. That is, until the Maison Goyard in NYC opened quietly a few days after Christmas.
Kimpton's Hotel Triton is known for its vibrant lobby
Interest in the American craft beer scene has never been higher, and a San Francisco hotel is looking to draw in the big drinkers this winter.
Kimpton’s Hotel Triton in Union Square has launched its Triton on Tap package that offers guests individual tours of four San Fran breweries: Magnolia Dogpatch Brewery, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, ThirstyBear Brewing Company, and Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room.
And by that we mean, the Japanimation-inspired Hotel Tomo in San Fran's Japantown has gone from a Joie de Vivre Hotel to a Kimpton Hotel. (For those not in the know, JDV's loyalty program is called Joy of Life while Kimpton's is called Kimpton Karma.)
So far, it doesn't seem like anything has changed from the JDV days (except possibly the toiletries in the bathroom which were once Japanese but are now from LATHER.) Here's a more in-depth TripAdvisor review from a Kimpton Karma member who stayed there as the changeover was happening:
I was happy to learn at check-in that Hotel Tomo is now a Kimpton Hotel as I'm a huge fan of Kimpton.
The changeover literally took place the day we arrived so there are still many, many things that need to be ironed out before Hotel Tomo satisfies Kimpton's usual standards.
The staff were very friendly and accommodating. We were given an upgrade which was nice. The room was quite large, especially by San Francisco standards. The view from our room on the eighth floor was great.
What Hotel Tomo looked like in 2010 when HotelChatter visited