I was in San Francisco for a business trip in September and managed to check out a terrific smart luxury hotel. For your next visit, consider staying at the Mandarin Oriental in downtown San Francisco, and select a junior suite if available.
The hotel's design is classic old world with Asian touches – think lots of gold, wood, and marble. It's very comfortable and elegant. The rooms’ views, however, are the most noteworthy. The hotel occupies floors 35 and up, and the outlooks are stellar – particularly given that San Francisco boasts a gorgeous skyline, twinkling bridges, and boats in its bay. Waking up to and going to bed with vistas like this is a treat in an urban hotel.
The Molton Brown amenities, Frette sheets, and plush towels exactly what one would expect in a luxury property. The hotel's service, however, is truly standout. Case in point: I marveled at how the restaurant's manager knew my name at breakfast. The staff makes a concerted effort to get to know guests and help them out during their stays.
Similarly, the location could hardly be better: The Mandarin Oriental is walking distance to shopping in Union Square and to the South of Market museums and entertainment. The Mandarin doesn't have a bustling lobby lounge like the Fairmont or W; it's rather lower key and affords an understated elegance.
Finally, for those in the know, September and October are San Francisco's best weather months. It's the city's summer and an ideal time to visit. And a final key tip: If you need to rent a car, reserve well in advance. These are convention months, and cars can be sold out.