Like most large American cities, San Francisco has a wealth of faceless, modern hotels operated by the big chains. Many of these are conveniently situated close the major attractions on the waterfront and make good bases to explore the city but you will forget them as soon as you walk out of the front doors. For an altogether different experience, without sacrificing the convenience of the location, consider a stay at the historic San Remo Hotel which is a unique establishment that will certainly linger in the memory.
The San Remo was one of the first buildings constructed after the infamous earthquake of 1906. It was originally called the New California Hotel and housed mainly Italian immigrants who were recruited to assist in the reconstruction of the city. The hotel was renamed San Remo in 1922 and became a speakeasy during the prohibition years. By 1970 the building was in desperate need of renovation and received the perfect makeover when brothers Tom and Robert Field bought the hotel in 1970. They set about lovingly restoring both the interior and exterior and created one of the most unique and atmospheric hotels in the country.
As soon as you enter the building you know you have found somewhere special. There is an old world charm about the place that gives the impression that you are entering someone’s home, not a hotel. The communal areas are full of flourishing plants and the rooms unusually have curtained windows which face the corridors. In stark contrast to the uniformity of the chain hotels, the San Remo’s rooms are individually decorated and furnished with antique pieces. The rooms are small but that is a minor inconvenience to trade for the unique style and cosy feel. Guests share the bathrooms, which sounds like a disappointment until you see them!
This hotel has the most stunning bathrooms you will ever set eyes on. Gorgeous wood panelling, period sanitary ware and fabulous tiles are complimented by exquisite bathroom mirrors and light fittings. How often do you get the chance to take a soak in a roll top bath? These rooms are absolute triumphs and are the only hotel bathrooms that have had me running for my camera!
A Step Back In Time
The entire restoration project has been accomplished with such brilliance that on crossing the threshold you feel like you have been transported to another era. The period style is maintained throughout to the extent that the rooms have no televisions or telephones with the only nod to modernity being the availability of the internet.
The beauty of the interior is matched by the friendly service at the San Remo and the hotel is located just a short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf making it the perfect base to explore the city. The rates are very reasonable too and since 2005 the highly regarded Fior d’Italia restaurant has been located on the ground floor. A stay at the San Remo could be one of the most memorable aspects of your trip!
Article by Sally Stacey