First, we couldn't help but smile at the fun, and somewhat educational, friezes installed on the outside of the building, next to the driveway where taxis pull up. Depicting historical scenes and landmarks of the city, the sculpture panels are collectively titled San Francisco: Yesterday and Today, and were dedicated in 1984. So cute!
Inside the hotel, the Front Desk is located in a huge, light-filled lobby, with high ceilings, big spherical chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto Market Street. Plenty of space here for everyone—like us, the hotel geeks who decided to crash the place for a few hours after trekking down from the farmers market at the Ferry Building and needing a place to sit and check our email.
Which we did, without being bothered, at the pseudo-business center around the corner from the main lobby.
We say "pseudo" because it's not really a business center as much as a table with three computers—the proper business center is located upstairs on the fourth floor. The good news is the computers don't require a login username or password, so anyone can just saddle up and check their email (or go on Facebook). And thanks to the international clocks on the wall, you can also know what time it is in London and Shanghai while you're at it.
And there's more art to look at than just the friezes outside, like these two large canvas paintings by local artist Sydney Bridges, who graduated from the Academy of Art College in SF. We thought the paintings, title Head Case I and Head Case II added a great dose of whackiness and color to the lobby, which, though large and comfy, didn't exactly wow us with its overly-grey color palette.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the lobby, we found a quiet, relaxing scene going on inside Cityhouse Bar, which offers a few flatscreen TVs for following sports games or simply catching up on the news. While a full restaurant flanks the bar area, a small bites menu at the bar offers yummy nibbles like house-made hummus ($8), beef empanadas ($9) and a Sonoma cheese platter ($13).
Of course, there are actual hotel rooms at this place, too. But for now we'll just file this one under the fun hotel day trips category.