san francisco Travel Guide
Hotel Chefs / Hotel Restaurants / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / California Hotels / → All Tags
Here's the latest happening in the luxury hotel world as told by JustLuxe's own Lena Katz. Got a question about luxury hotels, the travel biz, and where to stay? Send it in and we'll have Lena answer it.
A recent dinner at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco’s swank Parallel 37 food-geeked us out, thanks to new chef Michael Rotondo’s tendency to incorporate the most exotic produce items in California into his tasting menu. Torpedo radish? Smoked sunchokes? Arugula blossoms? It’s all coming at ya…and it’s good.
Chef Rotondo, who recently arrived from Chicago where he cooked under Charlie Trotter for eight years, admitted when he wanders through the San Francisco area farmers markets, he often doesn't recognize some of the stranger fruits – and when that happens, he usually buys the questionable item, takes it back to the kitchen, and figures out a tasty use for it.
We asked him to identify seven awesome produce items he’s cooking with right now, and tell us what the heck to do with them
Fermented Black Garlic: Ferment whole bulbs of garlic at high temperature, and they’ll turn black and taste sweet and syrupy, with hints of licorice and balsamic. Black garlic isn’t the prettiest veggie in the drawer, but it adds a complexity to a dish that raw garlic can't match. Most Asian markets carry black garlic. We have it on the lunch menu currently - blended into a light aioli and used on our albacore tuna sandwich.
Next week we'll be debuting our HotelChatter 2013 Cruise Guide. It might seem like a funny time to release this as, to put it lightly, the cruise ship industry has been in the spotlight over the past year. And few flowers have been thrown on stage.
There have been some dramas. Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Italy. The disabled Carnival Triumph had its feces run down the walls. Food-related illness continues to be a problem. And now cities are starting to debate whether or not they should welcome ships, whether they do more harm than good. Charleston is having an internal debate about it currently, and it isn't pretty.
One resident described cruise ships as "sardine cans" that are "susceptible to horrific accidents that instantly can put thousands at risk for their lives.” Another saw the ships as a detriment to the city's ambiance. “I can’t believe they are doing this to Charleston,” she said. “I can hear the announcements from my house. And that black smoke. It just tumbles out of that smokestack. You should see the dust in my car.”
While a reasonable person could understand that side of the coin -- the resident's viewpoint -- we can't forget about the other side -- the business side. And also a strong consumer force that continues to love cruising.
Hotel Packages / Hotel Art / Museum Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / Mandarin Oriental Hotels / → All Tags
For all you Sinophiles out there, the acclaimed "China's Terracotta Warriors" exhibition has finally landed at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco this month. Featuring 120 life-size clay soldiers, out of the nearly 8,000 that were excavated from the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shihuang, the relics are considered by many to be the eighth wonder of the ancient world.
Unsurprisingly, this was a perfect opportunity for Mandarin Oriental SF, which is located near the museum, to offer a "Terracotta Warrior" package. No, you don't get to cuddle up to the statues in your room, or enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner with one of them at the hotel's Brasserie S&P restaurant.
What the hotel wants you to do is simply get to the museum and spend an afternoon admiring the warriors—they are 2,000 years old, after all. The package starts at $545/night and, in addition to accommodation in the hotel's recently-renovated guest rooms, also offers special access to the exhibit with two VIP tickets and a catalogue with additional info on Emperor Qin Shihuang and his burial complex (ie, something to peruse while you lounge around your "room in the sky").
UPDATE 2:05pm, A rep for the hotel informs us that the hotel is experiencing some minor delays and will not be opening today. As of now, the Zetta is on track to open later this week.
San Francisco's newest belle opens today in the city's SoMa district, right next to the Powell St BART stop. The 116-room Hotel Zetta is in fact a Viceroy Hotel, and is the latest output from the brand's "Urban Retreat" collection (this is also what will open in New York next September).
The original building that houses the Zetta was actually built in 1913, and the hotel features "reclaimed" decor like a front desk made out of old lumberyard wood, a chandelier made out of old sunglasses, and a "used electronics" art installation that incorporates old cell phones, computer chips and other expired gadgetry that was donated by locals (this is the home of Google and Facebook, after all) last month.
Best of all: the hotel had been keeping quiet about its lobby restaurant (the website still lists an unnamed "exclusive destination restaurant"), but SF Gate finally spilled the beans last week that the venue will be called The Cavalier.
Run by Ana Weinberg and chef Jennifer Puccio, The Cavalier will be a "London-inspired brasserie," with leather banquettes and polished brass giving the place a vintage feel, as well as a "semi-private bar and lounge" in the back of the restaurant named Marianne's, after Marianne Faithful (whom we love). Weinberg and Puccio will also handle the food and drink menus at the S&R lobby bar (pictured). The Cavalier is set to open later this summer.
It's no surprise that Cali is always on the cutting edge when it comes to technology, but even we were stumped when we first heard about Hotel Abri's "iPad wall". We knew it had to be gimmicky in some sort of way, but hopefully helpful, too.
The "wall", which is located in the hotel's lobby, holds five iPads loaded with the latest and best apps out there to help guests tour San Francisco. There's a bunch of best of lists, links to Alcatraz tickets, details on Napa tours, games and more.
Along with the iPad wall, Hotel Abri has a "Tech Menu" for guests who've forgotten important items at home. Need to borrow a phone or laptop charger? They've got it. How about some ear buds, speakers, or a flash drive? Yeah, they've got those for you, too. All for free. Love it so much you want to keep it? They'll sell it to you, no problem.
And of course, your room, with its free 100 Megs of WiFi, will be laced with all the bells and whistles, from the in-room iPod/iPad docking clock radio to the new iPhone 5 adapters (whew!).
Rates at Hotel Abri begin at $279 per night in February.
[Photo: Hotel Abri]
Hotel News / Hotel Openings / Viceroy Hotels / California Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / → All Tags
It doesn't seem to happen every often, so we're always a little more jazzed than usual when San Francisco gets a new hotel, and the Hotel Zetta will debut just after Valentine’s Day.
The 116-room hotel, at the junction of SoMa, Mid-Market, and Union Square, will attempt to create a work play balance with sustainable architecture that features technological and recycled elements to go along with ultramodern furnishings. The building where the hotel resides, was originally constructed in 1913, and will celebrate its hundred-year anniversary to go along with the opening.
Check out the photo gallery to get a sense of what to expect.
This JDV Hotel has been a fave of HotelChatter's for nearly a decade, but we haven't physically checked in on the place since 2007. But instead of giving you some laborious hotel review, we'll make it short and suite (ha!).
Here are 5 Things You Should Know About the Hotel Vitale: (pics included!)
1. Splurge on the Water View Rooms: We said it way back in 2005 and nearly eight years later the same still holds true--the water view rooms are the ones to book. From your little perch, you can admire the stunning San Francisco Bay with the iconic Bay Bridge in the distance as well as the San Francisco Ferry Building. During our stay, these were going for about $308 a night with an AAA discount.
2. But Ask for a Higher Floor: We were placed on the third floor which still offered great views of the Bay Bridge and the Ferry Building but the Embarcadero is especially noisy in the morning. We found ourselves up at around 7am despite vowing to "sleep in" 'til 830am.
According to the story, Leo Nocentelli, a guitarist from the Meters Experience, attempted to check into the hotel along with two other members of the band. When he handed over his credit card to cover incidentals during the stay, the hotel manager refused to take it.
Except there was nothing wrong with the card—just the manager, who somehow didn't like the look of these guys. When Nocentelli's friend later showed up to see what was wrong, the manager told him he didn't accept credit cards from black people.
Um. We always knew Travelodge was kind of an outdated brand, but...seriously?
San Francisco has been on our radar lately. There just always seem to be a question of where to stay. We’re always being asked. Well, now there’s more news to add to the mix, the under-the-radar Hotel Adagio has undergone a seven-million dollar renovation which will make it more appealing for those looking for a Union Square-area option.
Opened in 1929, the historic Spanish-Colonial style hotel was once lauded for its great penthouse views, but over the years it's struggled in its theater-district location, which can be hit or miss depending on who you talk to. And despite being part of California's popular Joie de Vivre boutique hotel brand, Adagio parted ways with the company and has joined with the Evolution Hospitality management group, which has San Diego's Hard Rock Hotel under its wings. So, who knows perhaps the hotel's future may be brighter.
In case you've been living under a rock (hopefully with your iPhone) this past week, rumors and feature leaks abound in regards to the upcoming release of the Apple iPhone 5. The actual unveiling won't happen for a week yet, taking place on September 12 at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
In the meantime, all of the Apple invitees, tech journalists and other news media seeking to cover the event are also seeking hotel reservations. According to the recent Trivago hotel price index report, the repercussions of the iPhone rush are already being felt:
San Francisco has always been a bit of a tough hotel scene to figure out.
On the one hand you have a ton of touristy hotels clustered around the city's Union Square. Most of these are small and independent places but of course, the bigger brands like Marriott, Hyatt, Starwood and even Kimpton are found here too.
There are more luxe options nearby at Market Street like the St. Regis, the Four Seasons and the W and then down at Fisherman's Wharf the bigger hotel chains dominate again. There are just a handful of cool boutiquey hotels to stay at like The Clift from Morgans Hotel Group and the Hotel Vitale in the Embarcadero from Joie De Vivre but there are plenty of funky spots like the Personality Hotels and even a few stay-if-you-dare options like the Cova Hotel in the Tenderloin district. There's now even a small inn open in the city's Presidio park.
Yet while San Fran has seemingly many hotel options for all types of travelers, there's not one hotel that we get really excited about.
Hotel Lobbies / Hotel Snapshots / Photo Gallery / Wyndham Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / Hotel Art / For The Sake Of Hotel Art / Hotel Restaurants / Hotel Bars / Hotel Design / Design Thursdays / → All Tags
We once told you about the amazing views from an executive suite at the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco. But to be honest, there's some photo-worthy action going on downstairs too, in the hotel's gigantic lobby (that also doubled as our office for an afternoon).
From quaint seating areas like the one above to funky art and free internet, the lobby at Parc 55 is the perfect fun-filled hotel pit stop to break up your walking tour of San Francisco.
Click through our photo gallery below!