Sometimes it makes sense to indulge on your home turf instead of spending countless hours and dollars flying elsewhere to escape the daily grind. San Francisco is one of those incredible cities where you can have it all – call it home yet hide away at some of the city’s finest addresses. It’s the perfect time of year to recharge and rejuvenate.
Recently, my husband and I left the everyday craziness for an oasis of calm. Each time, we chose quintessential San Francisco properties where I experienced the spa and then we enjoyed dinner and overnight. At each hotel, the service was the right combination of personal and helpful.
Mandarin Oriental San Francisco
Fly high at this luxury hotel in the Financial District – literally. Guestrooms start on the 36th floor. And from there to floor 48, you’re in the stars. The views knock you out. Our guestroom had a spectacular panorama from the light show on the Bay Bridge across downtown to Alcatraz and beyond.
The spacious room with modern furnishings combines sleeping and sitting areas so as not to obstruct the heavenly view. Soothing colors and high-tech and luxe amenities help you melt into the surroundings – including in the soaking tub in the large bathroom. Don’t close your eyes; there’s a view there, too!
The Spa at the Mandarin deepens your blissful state. The treatments integrate centuries old therapies that soothe your body and heal your soul. Relax in the tea lounge before settling into the nail suite or your private room. My Oriental Essence massage used a yummy combination of oil, ginger and aromatics to help release muscle tension and stress.
At the hotel’s Brasserie S&P, floor-to-ceiling windows unveil a busy street scene and cozy banquettes and lounge chairs invite you to enjoy the indoors. There’s a specialty gin program at the Bar with house made infusions and tonics using ingredients like saffron, pumpkin or lemongrass and Asian spices (try a tasting flight).
The dinner menu reflects the restaurant’s informal yet refined style and local focus. The luscious albacore tuna poke sashimi is kicked up with macadamia nuts, sesame oil and red Fresno chilies. Red and golden baby beets are served with arugula, fennel and Pepato cheese. Pan seared wild king salmon, with roasted celery root and fennel, is in an amazing lobster bisque. The decadent warm brownie sundae is all that you can hope for – rich, full of chocolate and topped with Chantilly cream.
The Ritz Carlton San Francisco
Nob Hill is home to the classic Ritz. Sophisticated and friendly, the San Francisco landmark is located in a 1909 neoclassical building. Today, the interior is upscale and contemporary.
Among the amenities: High Definition TVs, docking stations and DVD/CD players; but you will also experience feather duvets, spacious marble bathrooms and a stunning view. From our corner room, downtown San Francisco was lit up like a thousand candles.
On the Club Level, the Club Lounge, is an intimate place to unwind. Food and beverage service is available all day as is a concierge. Breakfast offers an array of morning goodies. At cocktail time, hors d’ouevres showcase the City’s diverse neighborhoods. Certain Fridays, join Northern California winemakers to taste their wines. Sit back, chill and take in Coit Tower and bay views.
The hotel’s Spa-De-Vie helps you reconnect to your inner self as built-up strain and anxiety become a thing of the past. Begin in the steam room and decompress as you sweat out toxins. You’ll melt on the massage table with the spa’s signature treatment – a soothing combination of aromatherapy, Swedish and deep tissue.
Parallel 37 is the popular restaurant at the Ritz, named for the geographic latitude that runs through the Bay Area. The restaurant and bar are open, casual and inviting and both fuse fresh and fabulous in their fare.
The carrot tortellini was sublime with Greek yogurt and Madeira jus. The tender seared octopus, drizzled with olive oil, had crispy garlic on top. The juicy aged rib eye was served with crispy polenta, lion’s mane mushrooms and a braised short rib. Each course was paired perfectly with a wine from their international list. Save room for the spectacular coffee poached dates and Tahitian vanilla ice cream.
The Westin St. Francis
Originally constructed in 1904, this grand hotel celebrates its 110th birthday throughout 2014. San Francisco long has recognized the St. Francis as a landmark (it’s the only hotel located steps from Union Square). The history and glory of the hotel are revealed through beautiful photos on display throughout the interior (including a few by Ansel Adams), glass cases filled with historical objects and tales of stays by Presidents, celebrities, athletes, and world leaders.
When your room looks directly over Union Square, there really isn’t much more to say. It’s easy to be energized by the vibrant view. Rooms in the landmark building all offer high ceilings, chandeliers and detailed woodwork. When it’s time to sleep, you’ll drift away on the hotel’s Heavenly Bed ®.
The Renewal Spa helps you achieve just that. Detox in the steam room, relax in the lounge and indulge in one of the many massage, body, skincare and nail treatments. I chose the St. Francis Renewal massage integrating deep tissue to really get at those tired, tense muscles.
The hotel’s famous lobby, with its marble columns and decorative balconies, is home to the renowned Magneta Grandfather clock. Originally installed in 1907, it’s been the meeting place for thousands of visitors and locals alike since then. Also in the lobby is the Clock Bar with its contemporary interior, comfortable lounge seating and high energy vibe.
It’s here we enjoyed creative cocktails featuring Tempus Ficorum (layered with pisco, fig, lemon and thyme) and Violet Beauregard (fizzing with vodka, blueberries, crème de cacao and lemon). From the Small Bites menu, it was the house marinated olives with rosemary and citrus, tuna tartare kicked up with Scotch Bonnet peppers and a Snake River wagyu burger.
OTHER ESSENTIALS: San Francisco Travel
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb