Iconic Hotels of San Francisco

posted by Sharon December 1, 2019 23 Comments
San Francisco Fairmont Hotel

Touring the lobbies of iconic hotels in San Francisco may not be on a visitor’s itinerary, but I accidentally discovered this is fun and free and makes for a memorable morning.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, we stayed at the Hilton on Union Square and enjoyed this sunrise view of the city and bay in the background. Then we headed out for a full day of sightseeing in the sun.  San Francisco Hotels

The next morning I hurried over to the window, pulled back the curtains, and saw not a sunrise but a fogged-in city.San Francisco Hotels

A friendly local told us the day before that we would likely see Karl on our visit. “That’s our name for the fog.” Sure enough, Karl came to greet us. So we scrapped our outdoor plans and decided to walk around and go inside famous hotel lobbies. It turned out to be a perfect activity when fog blankets the city. Here are my three favorites.

Westin St. Francis on Union Square

My favorite hotel to visit is the St. Francis on Union Square. Decorated in 20-century European style, the hotel is a showcase of marble floors and pillars and dark oak-paneled walls. It’s described as “timeless yet modern.” Now under the Westin umbrella, the St. Francis has lost none of its stately appeal.

Opening in 1904, it survived the big earthquake and was refinished in time to become known as the Jazz Hotel in the 1920s. Hollywood stars headed for the St. Francis, along with jazz musicians. Glamorous guests included Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks. You can just imagine the party scene here!

San Francisco St Francis HotelSan Francisco St Francis Hotel

The staircase is just one elegant feature. San Francisco St Francis Hotel

A display tells the story of the role of the hotel in the tragic 1906 earthquake. Portions of the buildings survived, and the hotel set up long tables and served meals to those in need. A tiny dog lived through quake and was dug out of the rubble. Francis became a mascot of the hotel and a symbol of hope in that dark time. Today there’s a picture book telling the story of Francis. San Francisco St Francis HotelSan Francisco St Francis HotelSan Francisco St Francis HotelSan Francisco St Francis Hotel

The St. Francis goes all out for the holidays. Christmas trees decorate the lobby, and the charms of the season will warm your heart.San Francisco St Francis Hotel

 

 

San Francisco St Francis Hotel

San Francisco St Francis HotelSan Francisco St Francis HotelFairmont San Francisco

San Francisco Fairmont HotelThis historic hotel on the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco was built and almost ready to open when the 1906 earthquake hit. It was then rebuilt and opened its doors to welcome dignitaries and stars including Teddy Roosevelt, President Taft, and Rudolph Valentino. Suffering neglect during the Depression, the Fairmont sprung back to life at the end of World War II when it hosted delegates to the international conference to found the United Nations. And it’s at this hotel that Tony Bennett premiered his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” San Francisco Fairmont Hotel

San Francisco Fairmont HotelWhen I walked into the lobby, I immediately felt like I could move in here and happily live in this cozy, classy place. The plush sofas invite you to sit and soak in the ambience. San Francisco Fairmont HotelSan Francisco Fairmont Hotel

San Francisco Fairmont HotelSan Francisco Fairmont Hotel

We were just in time to enjoy holiday decorations.

San Francisco Fairmont HotelSan Francisco Fairmont HotelHere’s my husband, feeling right at home.San Francisco Fairmont Hotel

The Fairmont Hotel carries a pricey nightly rate, but there’s no charge for hanging out in the lobby! San Francisco Fairmont Hotel

The Mark Hopkins

San Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel

The Mark Hopkins sits on Nob Hill across the street from the Fairmont Hotel. It’s run by Intercontinental Hotels now, but it retains its early history feel.San Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel

The lobby is notable for its crystal chandeliers and velvet armchairs. San Francisco Mark Hopkins HotelSan Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel

The hotel opened in 1926 on the site of the mansion lived in by railroad magnate Mark Hopkins. The mansion, though not toppled the day of the 1906 earthquake, fell victim to the fires that then ravaged the city. Today, a high-rise hotel occupies this coveted spot in San Francisco. A banquet celebrating the new hotel featured fancy china and silver. The next day, 50 silver spoons had gone missing, appropriated as mementos by the guests.San Francisco Mark Hopkins HotelSan Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel

The hotel is famous for it’s bar on the 19th floor, the Top of the Mark. During World War II, the Top Of The Mark lounge was the scene of tender goodbyes as servicemen met their sweethearts here before being deployed. Today, you can grab a drink at the Top of the Mark and enjoy a fabulous view of the city (unless Karl is visiting). San Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel

There’s no sweeping stairway at the Mark Hopkins, but I did find a “library” in the lobby. San Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel

One of the hotel guests bought a Maserati to match the flag of San Francisco. San Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel

 

If you are in San Francisco and you’re looking for something a little different to fill out your itinerary, a visit to an iconic hotel will be fascinating. Bask in the elegance, enjoy a latte or glass of wine, and learn about the history and famous folks who’ve walked the same lobby. You may find on leaving that you, too, have left your heart in San Francisco.

San Francisco St Francis Hotel

San Francisco St Francis Hotel

A Note about Photographs: I edit my photos in Lightroom and often use Presets to bring out the best in a photo. One set of Presets I recommend is Winter Wonderland by Helene in Between. They will make your photos “pop”!

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Linking up with Image-in-ing, The Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Our World Tuesday, Weekend Wanderlust, Faraway Files, Wanderful Wednesday, Feet Do Travel, My Corner of the World, and Weekend Travel Inspiration.

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23 Comments

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Cathy Keller December 1, 2019 at 10:22 am

Thank you for this post! I lived in San Francisco for a year and though we passed most of these hotels on a regular basis we never went inside. They are really very beautiful works of art!!

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William Kendall December 1, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Beautiful shots!

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Shiju Sugunan December 1, 2019 at 8:32 pm

Great shots!

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Tamar A Strauss-Benjamin December 2, 2019 at 1:35 am

What an amazing collection of hotels!

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// Heidrun December 2, 2019 at 7:17 am

It seems to be a good adress… I always want to visit San Francisco, its such a wonderful City. Thank you for sharing.

Heidrun xxx

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junieper/Jesh December 2, 2019 at 11:31 am

Compared to Los Angeles, San Francisco’s hotels are definitely more opulent and indulgent looking! this definitely speaks of Christmas mood and ambiance. Many thanks Sharon of showing us at All Seasons all these ritzy places and have a blessed week!

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Jeanne December 2, 2019 at 1:11 pm

I love seeing the beautiful lobbies and decorations! Add another place to my “want to visit” list… 🙂

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image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup December 2, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Positively posh! What luscious photos!
Thanks for joining us this week at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/12/headed-to-philadelphia.html

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Lady Fi December 3, 2019 at 1:02 am

Wow – amazing!

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Ravin December 3, 2019 at 1:47 am

it seems you are a good traveler, and nice collections of hotel in san francisco. I am looking for few hotels, and got details. thanks for your helpful article.

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Carol December 3, 2019 at 2:13 am

They are all beautiful hotels but I love, love, love the Westin St Francis – can you imagine staying there in the 20’s?

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Su-sieee! Mac December 3, 2019 at 4:10 pm

Your post brings me back to living in San Francisco. I liked hanging out in the Fairmont lobby during the holiday season, and enjoying the tea dances at the Hyatt Regency. Good times. 🙂

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beatravelling December 4, 2019 at 9:24 am

I didn’t know there were iconic hotels in SF. Maybe it says more about me 😀 They definitely look grand! #wanderfulwednesday

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Cynthia Clarke December 4, 2019 at 10:38 am

Beautiful pictures! San Francisco is one of my favorite places and I’ve never stayed at any of these establishments. I’ve got to change that. Thanks for sharing!

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Patti December 4, 2019 at 11:19 am

What beautiful hotels! The history behind them are so incredible. I love Francis the Earthquake dog! So sweet!

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Kirstie December 4, 2019 at 11:47 am

What a unique idea! I’ll definitely be trying this out in some cities I visit.

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Allison December 4, 2019 at 12:19 pm

I would be all for this activity. I love architecture and interior design (though I’m not good at it by any means). And exploring iconic buildings is totally my jam. #wanderfulwednesday

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Erin December 4, 2019 at 5:55 pm

These hotels have so much character and history. I’ll keep these hotels in mind for next time I am in San Diego! Also, beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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Em December 4, 2019 at 8:31 pm

I had never thought of this activity, but I might just have to try it on my next trip! The story about the dog, Francis, is so cute.

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My Corner of the World December 5, 2019 at 12:25 pm

What a fun way to explore inside when Karl is around! Thanks for sharing these lovely places with us 🙂

It’s great to see you at ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!
My Corner of the World

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Margy December 5, 2019 at 1:58 pm

You are very creative on a way to continue exploring on a foggy day. – Margy

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Maheen December 5, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Great post idea! Love the unique hotels

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Peter B. December 6, 2019 at 11:42 am

One of my favorite cities and some wonderful hotels!

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