I have wanted to stay at a Joie de Vivre Hotel for quite awhile, having read wonderful reviews about them. My chance came when I needed to find a last minute hotel to stay at for the America's Cup, and everything at the Marina was booked - and thank goodness they were, because it forced me to stay near Union Square at the White Swan Inn. If you want to tour the city Union Square is a great central location, you can walk to several areas of interest, catch a cab, take a bus or take BART all within just a few blocks.
I arrived by car around 9pm, parked in the Valet spot (parking is very tight, you will want to valet your car) and registered. The staff offered to help me with my bags, but I don't mind dealing with my own stuff, so it wasn't necessary. The valet allows unlimited in and out privileges (but allow for 20-30 minutes for your car to arrive once you request it). I didn't use my car for the next 4 days because the city is much easier and cheaper to get around without a car to park, not to mention you get a real feel for the city when you are not isolated by car. The staff is friendly, helpful, authentic and not stiff as the big chain hotels often are. It's like you're being welcomed into your own apartment in the city, your home base for your stay.
The decoration is English, if you hate flowered wallpaper then this is not for you, but if you appreciate a commitment to themes, then it works. I wouldn't decorate my own home this way, but don't mind visiting it. The room is good size, it overlooked a courtyard. It happened to be a hot day (rare) in SF and there is no air conditioning, but there is a floor fan in the closet to pull out in the event the room is too warm. Mine was on the 2nd floor (ground level) so I have no experience with the stairs or the elevator that others have mentioned. As a single woman visiting the city I felt safe here. The front door is locked and you either get buzzed in or can use a key to enter the building.
The room amenities included a coffeemaker, a small refrigerator with some cold water and sodas, WiFi, Cable TV, fireplace. The bed is comfortable, the pillows the best I have ever slept on in a hotel (but of course this is very subjective for people). The bathroom was clean, my room had shower in the bathtub. The towels were a little small, a little worn, but were soft.
The breakfast in the morning is a perfect way to start the day. Fresh fruit, quiche, oatmeal, hardboiled eggs, pastries, cold cereals, toast, tea, coffee. The cookie jar is always available on entering the hotel, but if you've been out late, it may be empty. The evening reception was a wonderful chance to talk to other visitors to the city and chatting about adventures, politics, healthcare, it was one of the best parts about my stay. We were in the sitting room for about 2 hours drinking wine, nibbling on cheese and crackers and talking. We probably would have been there even longer, but we all had dinner plans, so had to break up the party.
This was one of the best hotel experiences I have ever had. So if you are planning a visit to this beautiful city, this is a fantastic choice in accomodations!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.