The Argonaut Hotel - A shoe-in for any 2004 "Best of" list

Where: 495 Jefferson Street [map], San Francisco, ca, United States, 94109
February 20, 2004 at 2:51 PM | by | ()

Look up any best of San Francisco hotel list and you'll find your usual suspects: The Omni, the Ritz-Carlton, the Mandarin Oriental...  for my money, there's no place I'd rather stay than the Argonaut Hotel, located at the end of Fisherman's Wharf.  This is especially surprising because, as a San Franciscan native, I try to stay as far away from the Wharf as I can.  Yet, the Argonaut offers a charm that none of those other luxury hotels can even begin to touch.


A Shining Review

As you walk in to the hotel, you'll find the San Francisco Maritime Museum on your right, so naturally, the entire hotel is decorated in a mariner motif. (As if on cue, a passerby mentions that the big glass structure is the actual lens from the Farallon Islands lighthouse.)  The lobby is full of nautical geegaws and doodads, giving you the impression that you're actually on a cruise, but the flat panel Sony Vaio with Internet access reminds you that you're safely on dry land.

It's a nice place, but clearly, the lobby isn't why we're here. I take the elevator to the fourth floor and step out. The hallways are quiet and dimly lit just the way I like it. After all, this isn't Vegas. But then a queasy feeling comes over me. At first, I think it is perhaps the dungeness crab I had for dinner along the wharf, but then I realize it's the hideous carpeting. I imagine that when picking it out, the designer had a Grateful Dead flashback and the colors started singing to him.  The carpet, coupled with the mile long hallway, reminds me of the hotel in The Shining.  I wouldn't have been surprised if a little boy rode by on his tricycle and twin girls were standing at the end of the hallway.  It's a wonder I didn't run screaming back to the lobby.

Mustering up my courage, I press on.  Once you step into the room, it's as if the hallway never existed.  A little history lesson here.  The Argonaut was constructed from the old Del Monte processing plant, which included the warehouse and the "Cannery" next door, and this is what gives the hotel its charm.  The rooms are gorgeous and immaculate, the view (if you have one) is spectacular, but it's the original red brick walls that sets it apart from other hotels.   It doesn't matter that the hotel is central to all these tourist attractions,  I could spend all day here with these brick walls, staring out the window at the Golden Gate bridge from my bed.

Finally, if you want to splurge, there are 13 suites available.  If there's no reason to leave a regular room, they you most certainly will never leave a suite.  Simply order room service and run your empire, Howard Hughes style, from the parlor, or relax in the spa tub and let your minions worry about the details.  If you're not the mogul type, then bring your significant other and you can still spend all weekend in the tub.

Archived Comments:

Classy hotel

I attended a fundraising event at the Hotel (for the Maritime Museum actually) about six months ago.  Some of the attendees had a room at the hotel, so I was able to check out a room.  

The hotel and rooms reminded me of the Triton, across town in Union Square.  The Triton was the location where all the visiting hipsters would stay a few years back.  Rock stars and the cool crowd.  MTV used to hold their interviews for the Real World/Road Rules there whenever they'd come to San Francisco...or so I've heard.  While you can't escape the nautical theme of the Argonaut, it doesn't overpower the fact that the hotel and it's rooms are very unique and cutting edge.

The room I visited was a two room suite (living area and a separate bedroom and bath).  I believe the TV was a flat screen, which was pretty impressive considering how much those cost.

I will agree that the carpet was a little over the top and the hallways are extremely long.  I think this is because of the sheer size of the building.  It's huge.

You're located within a half block of the world famous Ghirardeli Square where you can get your chocolate fix and hit some shops and restaurants.  Feeling brave?  Throw on the swimming suit and make a left out the front door to swim in the bay at the nearby beach.

I lived about 5 blocks away from the hotel and still wanted to stay there.  That has to tell you something.  

What a hellhole!

In September I traveled to SF with my sister and boyfriend to celebrate my birthday and to enjoy the chocolate festival. I was already a member of Kimpton and verified through email that my Kimpton membership number was definitely in my reservation. The desk clerk(s) were all really young and knew everything already. I offered my number and I was told he had it. NONE OF MY PREFERENCES WERE MET. I asked for a high up room, and got one looking up to the sidewalk. The room was tiny and dark. The bathrobes are HIDEOUS. Trying to be a good sport I tried to smile through. It got alot worst. Whenever I called down to the front desk I was put on hold and then the line would go dead. We ate at the restaurant next door and served the worst seafood meal ever presented. When we complained we only got huffs and attitude from the manager. When I talked to the concierge at the Argonaut Hotel I was told to wait for my survey to come in my email. The doormen are usually too busy chatting up girls outside to open the door for you. The doors on the rooms are very heavy and you can hear them slam shut all night. When we checked out the front desk guy (I guess he thought he was funny) said to me "no, you cannot check out." Mind you this is about 6:30am and before coffee. So I check out, wait for my survey which went ignored for weeks and then I was told that the hotel didn't know I was a Kimpton member and that if I had only included it ALL of my preferences would have been met. So it was my entire fault? Really? Well I have the email to prove it was included and double check by someone named Georgia. My email was declined and then shortly there after I started to get DAILY harassing emails from the Argonaut Hotel manager. He questioned me about the same things over and over and stating he couldn't believe that any of his employees could ever have said any such thing. I finally snapped. I emailed the CEO. Haven't heard back. I canceled my kimpton account. Being a gold member at another chain I am going back to them.