94105 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.
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.
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When we saw Alyson Shontell, reporter for Business Insider had booked herself a room in SF for a conference this week, but quickly regretted her choice of hotel, we felt guilty. We should have helped her back when she tweeted out for hotel selections in SF. But better late than never, right?
Well, our first thought was, eesh. September is a notoriously busy month for all hotels—not just in San Fran. But it turns out there are some good finds out there right now, and Union Square isn't exactly lacking in hotel options—so when you do find the good deals, it becomes that much more exciting! For starters, take the Palace Hotel, an historic hotel located just a few steps from the Montgomery St BART station, where a King bed starts at just $189.
Labor Day Hotels / Hotel Deals / San Francisco Hotels / Quikbook / Luxury Collection Hotels / → All Tags
Looking on Quikbook for September 3-6, we found the historic Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel from Starwood in Union Square, for an average of $135 a night. That's for a superior king room and the offer requires a prepayment at the time of booking. It's also non-refundable so your San Fran plans need to be set in stone.
View of the San Francisco Bay from Hotel Griffon
Like the New Year's hangover you couldn't shake last weekend, hotels are still rolling out 2010-themed deals to pack rooms during a usually slow travel month. As reported on our sister site Jaunted, January is when you can find some of the steepest discounts, as most people return to chaotic work and family schedules, with no time for R&R.
San Francisco's Hotel Griffon is one hotel offering such a deal, with a "Buy One Night, Get the Second for $20.10" promotion that runs through January. That's kind of unheard of for a hotel that lies on the city's Embarcadero strip, just a stone's throw away from the Ferry Building.
Located somewhere in the Bay Area? Keep your eyes peeled for flying room keys. A Golden Room Key, to be precise. If this specimen (possibly still tied to a festive bunch of balloons) whacks you in the head or plops onto your car's windscreen, it's your lucky day. You'll get to play Charlie—only instead of a visit to a chocolate factory with a bunch of obnoxious kids you'll get three nights at the fancy Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
The Golden Ticket ... er, Key, is part of the hotel's 100th Birthday Celebrations, and was released into the overcast sky above San Francisco yesterday, inside a helium-filled yellow balloon. Whoever finds the balloon containing the key will win a three-day stay in the hotel's Presidential Suite. History Buffs may remember this as the room where President Warren G. Harding died in 1923. but as long as you're not easily spooked this shouldn't keep you from enjoying the opulence of 2-bedroom, 2-bath suite with its own grand piano.
Do not expect this scene today at The Palace Hotel.
Over the weekend, hotel workers from the union, Unite Here, staged a three day strike in front of The Grand Hyatt San Francisco to protest the contract negotiations that have been ongoing. The workers have been working without a new contract since August and the main sticky point, as ever, is the issue of health care.
Hotel workers have repeatedly gone on strike over contract negotiations in the last few years but rarely does it ever happen back to back at different hotels. Last night, hotel workers at the famed Palace Hotel which is part of Starwood's Luxury Collection, began a three-day strike as well, at a time when the hotel was at 100 percent occupancy, thanks to a few conventions that are going on.
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]
Calling all Bay Area residents. We bet your day in, day out view of the Bay Bridge will feel a lot better when you are sitting in a luxe hotel suite.
Take a mini-getaway by staying at the Hotel Vitale on Sunday nights. Special rates are offered for locals only and include a reduced rate of $189 for Deluxe City View rooms, $219 for Superior Water View rooms and $249 for Deluxe Waterfront rooms as well as half price parking until 6:00 pm on Monday. This is an pretty good steal considering rooms at this luxe JDV Hospitality can get pricey. (Although when we checked for January 21, regular rack rates weren't that much difference.)
The caveat here of course, is that you must show proof of residency in one of the nine Bay Area counties at check-in.
Speaking of Chip Conley, we didn't realize that his Hotel Vitale had gotten into hot water last week with a racial profiling incident. (Jeez we head to Amsterdam for four days and we miss the good stuff.)
According to newspaper reports, Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o, an English and Comparative Lit professor at UC Irvine was staying at the hotel over the Nov. 10 weekend to promote his latest book, "The Wizard of the Crow," courtesy of his publisher Random House.
Saturday morning, he was reading a newspaper in the hotel lounge when an employees asked him to leave. Thiong'o insisted he was a hotel guest but the employee demanded physical proof. A hotel manager stepped in and apologize to Thiong'o but the damage had been done. The incident was later reported by the Priority African Network, who demanded a public apology from Chip Conley, which he promptly issued citing that he was "deeply sorry" for the incident and that he sent a private letter of apology to the author. He also dished out some personal details as well:
This is a matter of great importance to me personally. I went to Long Beach Poly High School, one of the finest inner city public high schools in America well known for its diversity. I have a mixed race foster son who identifies as African-American. I am in a long-term relationship with an African-American. Our company supports more than one dozen local multi-cultural organizations. In sum, we have always tried our hardest to assure we are part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Conley followed up the public apology (which cost $450) with a $5,000 donation "to a yet-to-be-determined local nonprofit that works to fight racism, and do additional staff training about racial discrimination" all of which has made Thiong'o commend him for his fast and heartfelt response.
Now, we just have one question. If Chip went to Long Beach Poly, is he friends with Snoop Doog?
[Photo: Jt and Mt]
· Hotel Vitale apologizes to author [Examiner.com]
· Hotel Vitale Expresses Regret Over Racial Profliing Incident [Beyond Chron]
We are suckers for a room with a killer view. We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.
This is the kind of room view you hope for when you stay at the Hotel Vitale in San Francisco. Miraculously it's not foggy so you can actually make out the Bay Bridge.
[Photo: Dave Hanson]
· Hotel Vitale reviews [TripAdvisor]
If you haven't heard about the fake writer JT Leroy, then hit up Gawker who has some great coverage of the whole incident.
The crew over there also discovered a short about a break-up that JT Leroy supposedly went through. And one of his/her rendevouzs took place at the Hotel Vitale in San Francisco.
He was a Hollywood up-and-coming dude that was terrified of being outed.... Last time it was at Hotel Vitale ($699/night, his series got renewed). I've slumbered under the Bay Bridge, but never on it, and this dang close to it... 180-degree views of the San Francisco Bay.
I loathe getting naked in front of anyone... but then I never had a bath butler draw a bath for me in a two-person limestone soaking tub!
Damn, now that's some service. But given Leroy's fake identity and fake stories, we don't know if this incident ever happened. Can the Vitale Bath Butler please step forward?