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“The Clift Hotel: For those who aspire to be rich and cool” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Clift Hotel San Francisco

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Clift Hotel San Francisco
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   495 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102   |  
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Ranked #88 of 235 Hotels in San Francisco
Dallas, Texas
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
89 helpful votes 89 helpful votes
“The Clift Hotel: For those who aspire to be rich and cool”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2004

but haven't quite achieved either goal. For genuine class, pampering and good hospitality, stay elsewhere.

We stayed at The Clift Hotel on the basis of enjoying a drink in the Redwood Room on a previous trip to San Francisco. We are a young couple who like to dress up and we thought the bar and lobby was attractively hip. Hipper than thou as it turns out and sadly, the residential experience was completely underwhelming. Although the room was pretty enough with its diaphanous cream curtains and pale birch furniture, it was marred by stained carpets and a musty smell. The bathroom was unbelievably tiny and although I am slim, I ended up with a bruise on my thigh from from bumping against the door, which stupidly opens inward into this already small space. Also, there is no surface area for toiletries, which I guess is fine if all you travel with is your toothbrush.

We were irritated by the fee for highspeed internet access and the absence of a coffee maker, the latter being a basic necessity that you could find at any 1 star motel. A further annoyance was the prominent exhibition in the room of a number of of exhorbitantly priced items for sale.

Our maid was nice and friendly and the concierge was fine, but the rest of the staff were too young, unprofessional and overly concerned with posing to fully focus on the needs of guests and create a luxurious atmosphere. Although hotel workers are human beings with their own private life, that's where it should remain - private. While waiting by the front desk for the return of an item from housekeeping, I don't want to hear the receptionists chatting about their previous night's partying and how they didn't get to bed until 6 in the morning.

The prices in the Redwood Room and the adjoining restaurant are terribly inflated and although the food is nice, it is not outstanding and simply not worth the money. My husband and I enjoy good things but neither of us like to be ripped off and with The Clift Hotel, you feel you are at every turn. After 3 days we moved out and checked into The Monaco next door which is where we stayed last time and is just exquisite (see the reviews here on Tripadvisor).

There is nothing majorly wrong with this hotel but for the money you can do so much better. Definitely call into the Redwood Room for a pre dinner cocktail and to admire the video installations, but stay somewhere else.

  • Stayed September 2004, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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1,676 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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A TripAdvisor Member
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2004

The Clift hotel failed to meet my expectations and is was a major dissappointment. It is definitely not a five star hotel. The general unwelcome
feel one experiences upon entering the lobby is compounded by the arrogant pushy attitudes of the door staff, front desk staff, and especially
the cranky concierge. They don't have a pool, there's a pungent smell on most of the floors, and you have to pay for using the internet. The
hotel is dimly lighted so that visitors can't see the worn and stained carpet. The hotel becomes infested with nightclubbers at night with all
these cheezy types acting like monkeys on the lobby furniture as well as keeping ourselves and the other guests annoyed with their techno music
blasting from the spanish suite right next door. And then there's the hotel bar, the Redwood Room. I don't mind paying more for a fine modern
bar experience but again the Clift has failed in this department. The bar is very attractive and stylish, blending the history of the old grande hotel with the modern elements in a silky smooth collage. That's
where the positives end - great design, poor execution. On approaching the hostess stand guests are looked up and down before being escorted to an appropriate location. Interestingly, the more attractive the look, the more prominent the location will be. We were seated right at the bar. The sharp looking bartenders were standing around chatting and didn't notice our deep need for a drink for quite some time. On approach, I
asked what their signature cocktail was. The bartender responded by asking what I usually drink (a Chopin Martini), walked away, made the drink,
presented it, and said, that'll be $14. Then he asked my colleague what she wanted to drink. She opted for a bottle of becks. $8. That was our
last visit to that bar.

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A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2004

The Clift web site says the hotel is "a wonderland for the jetset." It's true. I stay there often just to add some fun to business trips. So, here’s a test to help you decide if Clift is right for you:

Stay at Clift if:
You think it’s cool it’s a “stealth hotel” (no sign or name on building)
You can speak at least two languages (required to be truly jetset)
You know Prada from DKNY
You collect frequent flyer miles on 14 different airlines
You are willing to over look minor problems with the staff simply because they are very good looking
You are willing to pay $15 a drink so that you can lounge in a beautiful room full of beautiful people.
You have an expense accout or trust fund
The thought of owning a minivan makes your skin crawl

Do NOT stay at Clift:
You think it’s totally absurd that the hotel has no sign
You are a retired librarian looking for a peaceful place to sleep and read.
You are fashion-challenged (you know who you are)
You collect “Precious Moments” figurines
You cannot handle a bit of friendly attitude from the staff and other guests
You find yourself asking, “Who is Philippe Starck?”
You are on a budget
You own a minivan

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A TripAdvisor Member
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2004

Your first clue is the lack of signage. The Clift is far too trendy to identify its location by anything so common as a nameplate visible from the street.

The valet parking staff is friendly, though, assuming you can find a place for your car on the crowded curb in front of the hotel. Plan on a hefty $40 per night for valet parking.

Once inside, the clever theatricality of the lobby, dining room and bar make the efforts to arrive seem worthwhile. Check-in is efficient, if not exactly friendly or welcoming.

A warning, though. If you get a room with a pass-through door to the room adjacent, immediately return to the front desk and ask for or pay for a room with solid walls. I did not and my neighbors stayed up all night long playing music and entertaining guests. Despite a call from the manager at 12:30 PM and a call from myself at 3 AM, the noise continued unabated till 4:30 AM, leaving me no recourse but to spend a very early morning in the lobby.

Why the lobby? Well, the night staff informed me that while they were sorry, they could not give me another room until the morning manager arrived. Three hours later he did arrive and did give me another room. According to the bell staff, there were ample empty rooms.

Apparently due to my group rate, the night staff wasn't "authorized" to give me another room. In effect, their rules were far more important than my comfort or inconvience. So...no sleep at all at this 4-star hotel the first night.

The next night of my four-night stay, a friend and I decided to investigate the bar. The hostess condescended to find us a table and with a great deal of attitude announced that we might have one in a few minutes - depending on how long we were staying!

We decided we weren't nearly important enough to enjoy the gloomy darkness and thumpa-wumpa music of the bar at the Clift, so we crossed the street and discovered the delightful Cafe Grand at the equally delightful Hotel Monaco.

Evidently Kimpton hotels regard guests as valued friends and Schrager properties - like the ever-so-precious Clift - do not. Unless you share the attitude, of course, and enjoy trading superior glances with the staff.

I'll give the Clift ample stars for design and poseur-power. But as a fine hotel...truly, they have a lot to learn about hospitality.

  • Stayed January 2004, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, GA
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2004

This comment from a previous review was what sparked our interest in the Clift: "I would not recommend this hotel for families. On the weekend it is very similar to staying at a night club." The reviewer was absolutely correct. If you're planning to bring the kids to San Francisco, you may want to stay at the Hampton Inn instead. The decor at the Clift is minimalist yet fun and creative...definitely has a night-clubbish feel. The service was excellent and very friendly; we didn't experience the attitude and snobbishness mentioned in previous reviews. The sleigh bed was SO comfortable, we loved the luxury linens. Our corner room was surprisingly spacious. The hotel location was convenient. The only complaints we had were, the bathroom seemed somewhat small and valet parking seemed a little pricey. Other than that, we would definitely stay at the Clift next time we're in town!

  • Stayed July 2004
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Clift Hotel San Francisco

Address: 495 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > San Francisco
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#34 Luxury Hotel in San Francisco
#63 Business Hotel in San Francisco
#69 Family Hotel in San Francisco
#74 Romantic Hotel in San Francisco
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Clift Hotel San Francisco 4*
Number of rooms: 372
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An inspired fusion of old-world hotel elegance with distinctly contemporary energy and glamour, the nearly century-old CLIFT’s modern and daring sense of diversity perfectly captures the city’s spirit. Steps from Union Square shopping and the legendary Nob Hill, CLIFT is perfectly located for sightseeing, shopping and socializing. Designed by Philippe Starck, the soaring lobby contains one of the most eclectic furniture collections in all of California ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Clift San Francisco
San Francisco Clift Hotel

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