If you are looking for a historic luxury hotel in San Francisco, may I recommend taking a look inside The Palace Hotel, which is part of the Starwood Luxury Collection?
Wherever you decide to stay, book via our luxury travel concierge. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, and free perks at hotels, including Four Seasons, Aman, Belmond, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, InterContinental, and more. You also get your usual Marriott Bonvoy, Hyatt, Hilton, and other loyalty points and status benefits when you book with our concierge.
The location is wonderful as many city sites are within walking distance, and cable car lines and a city metro system (BART) are on the same block. Stroll to the Embarcadero waterfront to experience the best farmer’s market in America, in my opinion, and walk the aisles full of artisanal foods while sampling the locally produced gourmet products (Tue. & Thurs. 10-2, Sat. 8-2). The concierge is more than obliging and arranged for us bike rentals to explore the Golden Gate Bridge and the many sites along the waterfront. He also arranged our ferry tickets and tour of Alcatraz, a site to see for any history buff. Take advantage of the concierge services as there is so much to see in this historic city that it can be a bit overwhelming. Having the guidance of a true insider who can put an itinerary together for you is well worth the tipping fee.
Style & Character
Upon entering the Palace Hotel, you are transported to another time and place, the grandeur of a classic European hotel, complete with a soaring glass atrium, crystal chandeliers, and marble columns. At first glance, it is easy to see why the Palace is considered an architectural gem.
Built in 1875, having undergone a full renovation in 2015, the hotel was San Francisco’s first premier luxury hotel and largest in the world, a classic city landmark today.
We arrived early, and our room was not yet available, but that was no problem as we could easily store our luggage and begin our exploration of the city. Returning a few hours later, we were surprised to find our deluxe room still unavailable, much to our dismay. Still, the staff righted the situation swiftly and upgraded us at no additional charge to a junior suite. A spacious floor plan and spotless marble bath, fine linens, and a very comfortable bed completed a wonderful “home base” for our long weekend of sightseeing and the perfect place to rest our tired feet after days of endless strolling.
I had read before our checking-in that coffeemakers were not available in all rooms but that free coffee was served in the lobby each morning. As a caffeine fiend, I was not happy to hear this but was pleasantly surprised to find that we had our own full-size Kuerig, much like the one in our own home kitchen. I assume this might be a perk of the suite and not something standard in each room, given some reviews, but we had no qualms about the coffee situation during our stay. A must that potential guests should request is an outer room. You’ll want the natural light and city view instead of seeing the wall of the building next door through your windows. A minor glitch was the toiletry selection of Gilcrest that the hotel offered. I would think of a hotel of this caliber. A higher standard would be met, and I would have hoped with their recent renovation that, a reconsidering of toiletry selection would have also been done. All in all, however, I could not complain.
Service & Facilities
In a bustling city where space is at a premium, it is a wonderful perk to have access to a swimming pool, which is not a common convenience in this California metropolis. The pool is located on the rooftop level of the hotel, covered by a domed glass ceiling allowing in the natural light and views of the city skyline.
Perfect for an aquatic workout or leisurely dip, the pool area also offers chaise lounges and a whirlpool for relaxation. The fitness area is located on the same level and overlooks the pool through floor-to-ceiling windows. I don’t feel that the pool area is a spot where you would want to spend most of your afternoon, you are most likely in San Francisco for business or sightseeing after all, but it is quite nice to have as an additional amenity.
The world is your oyster, as they say, and San Francisco offers a plethora of options for days packed with sightseeing, world-class dining, arts and culture, nature exploring, and athletic activities. The hotel concierge is happy to assist you in planning your daily activities or offering a full itinerary during your stay. Depending on your interests, recommendations are made for what would suit your style, from luxury shopping and fine dining to exploring Alcatraz and historical sites throughout the city. Hike, bike, kayak, sail, or stroll through the city and its surrounding nature paths and waterways. Museums, theatre performances, concerts, and more make the cultural exploration as enticing as the beauty of the natural surroundings and bustling city sights.
Food & Drink
Onsite is the famed Garden Court which serves breakfast and lunch daily, Saturday Signature Tea, and City Brunch on Sundays. Anointed as the “Best Brunch in San Francisco” year after year, what is known as the City Brunch is offered under the stunning glass atrium in the hotel’s lobby level on Sundays. Reservations are necessary as the brunch hosts guests from all over the city. Not to worry if a reservation isn’t within reach during your stay. Breakfast and lunch are also offered daily in this same spot with many scrumptious farm-to-table offerings. The GC Lounge is where you can enjoy morning offerings and daily tea time, plus there is live music in the evenings – it’s the perfect place to sip on classic cocktails and enjoy delicious bites. The experience emulates a bygone era with a contemporary flare, and the atmosphere is marvelous.
Lunch, dinner, and drinks are available at the Pied Piper Bar & Grill. Classic California cuisine such as Pacific salmon, Monterey calamari, and Bodega Bay oysters, are available to indulge in. The restaurant is reminiscent of a classic library with its wood wall paneling and lush dark green leather seating. Above the bar hangs the world-famous mural. This is an original Maxfield Parrish – painted this for the hotel’s reopening in 1909. The atmosphere of the Pied Piper brings to mind classic business lunches and makes one wonder about all of the wheeling and dealing that has occurred among these historic tables. San Fran-brewed beers, California’s finest wines, and local spirits can all be enjoyed at the Pied Piper bar, along with countless signature offerings for nightcaps.
The hotel’s history makes for an enjoyable stay in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. While it isn’t the Four Seasons or St. Regis, you aren’t paying those prices either, yet you still receive the classic luxury this landmark gem offers. Some rooms can be a bit close-quartered, and I am happy we were upgraded, but when in San Francisco, you’ll find you are hardly at the hotel as you’re out and about experiencing the place like a local. It perfectly suited our needs and expectations, and I would be happy to stay there again while visiting the city on the bay (hopefully with a free upgrade).
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