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The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, is no doubt a gorgeous historic hotel and when the legendary Nob Hill property was offering a rate of $199 with a free breakfast we jumped at the chance to stay here.
So how did the old girl hold up, and more importantly how did customer service deal with us being downright frantic when coffee was spilled on our nice new work shirt thirty minutes before a meeting? Find out what happens when a guest at the Fairmont stops being polite and starts getting doused with coffee...
The 100 year old+ The Fairmont San Francisco on Nob Hill is known for its sweeping views of EssEff, impeccable service, and well, being 100 years old.
When we found a hotel rate of $199 a night, we decided to take a chance on this grand dame. How did the old broad hold up? Well, for our full review you will have to wait until next week, but for now take a peek inside our room, 709, and check out the mix of old (the building) and new (the LG flat screen television).
San Francisco possesses one of the world's most head scratching hotel scenes. The majority of top hotels here are located in an area of town called Union Square. Tourists drool over this area because of its many shops and proximity to the Powell and Hyde cable car. However, San Francisco's dirty little secret is that Union Square is not the greatest place to stay in The City for many reasons.
Parking will cost you $40 a day, driving in and around the Square is painful, and once you get past all the pretty shops you begin to notice a staggering number of homeless folks as you head up to the theatre district toward many of the frequent stay SF hotels.
This is not to say your shouldn't stay in Union Square, by all means go for it, you will probably have a nice time. However, if you want to break away from your tourist brethren why not stay South of Market, or out on Lombard Street, or in North Beach. Still too much of a risk for you? You can always stay near Fisherman's Wharf. Point is, despite what you may have heard there are excellent places to stay outside of Union Square in SF.
Last week we made our triumphant return to San Francisco's Hotel Vitale. Long time readers may remember we followed this hotel through most of its ground up construction and opening back in 2005. Soon thereafter, this hotel became one of our all time favorite hotels. So how is Vitale holding up some two and a half years later? Excellent we think.
Last week's stay at Vitale did not involve a circular suite, and yes, staying in one of the non-view rooms is a bit different, however, the hotels service and overall comfort is still easily recognizable. Besides, we ended up just a few doors down from the fifth floor terrace, where WiFi reached, allowing us to work with a bridge view. The terrace ended up feeling like our own personal balcony, so I guess what we are saying is if you can't go circular suite, get a room on the fifth floor near the terrace.
Any disappointments? Yes, actually. The hotels fitness room is tiny. You would expect a hotel that preaches "vitality" not to skimp on the fitness room, especially with the steady group of creative business travelers that grace its halls, however, Vitale could definitely use a fitness room redux. Even the most youthful looking hotels could use a bit of botox after a couple years of wear, don't you think?
Hey, if that is our only complaint you know this place is holding up. Besides, you can always run along the Embarcadero, or just sloth it in SF for a night or two and avoid working out all together.
· San Francisco Hotels [HotelChatter]
No, gasoline prices in the U.S. are not climbing as high as initially forecast. And they nowhere approach prices motorists pay for petrol in many parts of the world. That's not going to stop us from trumpeting a nifty gasoline-savings-themed package from Personality Hotels, the San Francisco boutique hotel group.
Recently dumped? Consider kick-starting your recovery by spending a few nights at the Hotel Triton, Kimpton's cutesy boutique property in San Francisco.
We were perusing Triton's website and it occurred to us that a few of their specialty rooms and packages, which include a whole eco-friendly floor and an impressive collection of celebrity-themed suites, could be combined to make one hell of a Promises-caliber 3-step relationship rehab program.
So after the jump, we outline our Three Steps To Using The Hotel Triton to Get Over a Bad Break-Up. (Ok so people won't be meeting in church basements to discuss this recovery program but it's better than Dr. Phil.)
Fourth of July is just two weeks away so in case you are headed to a big city for some fireworks fun, we'll be taking a look at hotels with prime fireworks views. Have a favorite hotel for gawking at bombs bursting in air? Send it our way.
The fireworks in San Francisco will be shooting off from the Muni Pier and barges north of Pier 39 at around 9:30pm. Now, we're not promising that you can actually SEE the fireworks thanks to the heavy fog that rolls in but we'll tell you where you can get the closest to hearing the bangs.
Luckily for you, every major hotel chain is parked near Pier 39 and Fisherman's wharf, giving you an excellent vantage...erm...hearing point to watch the fireworks. But do you really want to stay in a non-personal chain hotel?
We spoke too soon when we sorta called out Kimpton Hotel's traditional wine-tasting hour in our last post for being lame. Because at least at the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, the hotel is giving you the opportunity to learn how to conduct your very own wine-tasting.
Called the Weekend Sommelier, the newest hotel packages gives you face time with the hotel's wine expert Emily Wines (c'mon, how could she NOT be a sommelier?) that includes food and wine tastings and pairings, a tour of the hotel restaurant, the Fifth Floor, and its wine cellar, a private dinner with the staff to sample the nightly specials, and a late-night snack and wine tasting with Wines (the person) to review the day.
But perhaps the coolest part of this package--if you're thinking of a sommelier career--is that you get to accompany Wines (the person) out to dining guests as a guest sommelier.
The Weekend Sommelier package starts at $250 per person but does not include room rates. However, if you stay at the Hotel Palomar for this program you will get a 15 percent discount on your room.
The hotel used to be the Best Western Miyako Inn in San Fran's Japantown but the only thing that remains is the Best Western handle. Inside Hotel Tomo, you will find lots of Japanese pop-culture artwork, (think anime), 26-inch LCD flat-screen TVs, iPod docking station and radio, J-Pop wall murals and what looks like Ugly Dolls on each bed.
There's also a restaurant called Mum's which specializes in shabu-shabu -- "thinly sliced meat and vegetables cooked at your table in an iron hot pot, and served with savory, special, house dipping sauces."
But the best part might be the two "gaming suites" available which include PS3 and Wii, bean bags, sofa bed, 6-foot LCD projection screen, microwaves and mini-refrigerators (What? No Guitar Hero??)
· Inside Hotel Tomo in San Francisco's Japantown [HotelChatter]
While checking out the recent TripAdvisor reviews of the Clift Hotel in San Francisco, we noticed something rather interesting. The hotel's general manager has replied to at least six of the recent reviews and dating back to August 2006.
The responses tend to start off as a form letter, "Dear TripAdvisor Member, Thank you for taking the time to write." But they do address a whole range of issues like one guest's complaint about the hotel's design. This is how general manager Jenny Chmieleski responded:
Since our renovation in 2001, we have received many responses to Phillipe Starck's avante-garde lobby design. We appreciate that every person has a distinct and personal opinion regarding design aesthetic, and we accept that the style here at Clift may not be your particular cup of tea.
She even offers her email address in case the guest wants to contact her directly. Good on ya Jenny, so long as the general manager is genuine and not posing as a guest, they should most definitely get involved in the conversation. We would hope that the general manager would be available while the guest is still at the hotel as well.
· Clift Hotel reviews [TripAdvisor]
[Ed. Note: We know we've been covering the the Orchard Garden Hotel, to death but HotelChatter contributor Alex Salkever (of Hawaii travel blog Hawaiirama) offers up his take on the green hotel in San Francisco. Enjoy.]
The calling card for this Union Square / Financial District boutique hotel is that it's the first U.S. Green Building Council certified green hotel in San Francisco. The Orchard Garden, which opened in late 2006, was built from the ground up with green in mind. The property has low impact fast-flush toilets, more efficient heating and cooling systems, and other standard green design elements.
As you probably know by now, we ended up staying at the Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco for one night last weekend. The stay was a bit last-minute but with Earth Day coming up we thought checking out one of the greenest hotels in the U.S. was important. Also, they had a killer rate of $169, a rare find for a new hotel in San Fran for sure.