I stayed at the Hilton Union Square on a weekend night with my kids. I believe we were upgraded to a room on a higher floor due to my being a Hilton Honors member. The expansive view from 43rd floor was spectacular, stretching from Coit Tower and the Trans America building and spanning the bay. We could see Union Square and it's Christmas tree all lit up from our room.
The room itself was spacious enough with comfortable bedding and a decent size bathroom. There was a desk and coffee maker in the room but no refrigerator. Adding a refrigerator would go a long way to increasing customer satisfaction in my opinion. The coffee maker in the room, like many in-room coffee makers is a single/double cup pod type machine, which made less than acceptable coffee. The alternative is to go downstairs and stand in the very long line at Starbucks which is located in the lobby. While it is very nice to have a Starbucks inside the hotel, they were clearly understaffed and the line moved at a snail's pace. My local Starbucks at home runs circles around this one. Even in late afternoon, with only two people in line, getting a cup of coffee takes longer than it should.
Free in-room internet access is only available to Hilton Honors gold members and above. Free wi-fi is available in the lobby, but I feel it is nickel and diming of Hilton to charge for in-room internet access, especially if they want to cater to business travelers.
Parking at the hotel is prohibitively expensive at $54 per day, which I think is just price gouging. And that was the self-park rate. The valet rate was even higher. I would recommend parking at any number of public garages within a two block radius to save anywhere from $20-30 per day. I'm not sure if it was an error on the part of the parking garage staff, but I parked at the O'Ferrell -Ellis Parking Garage for almost 24 hours and was only charged $16 when I exited. Typical rates at nearby garages are in the neighborhood of $25-35 per day. There are two parking garages directly across the street from the Hilton. Both were full when we checked in. The traffic around Union Square and the vicinity of the hotel was unbelievably crowded. If you can handle being without a car and don't have too much luggage, I would highly recommend parking at an outlying BART station and taking the BART in. The hotel is about 4 blocks from the Powell Street BART station.
You do need to be a little careful when walking around the area at night. If you head west and/or southwest (towards Market Street - that is, out the front door and to the left), you start wandering into the Tenderloin and it can be a little scary walking through the area, especially at night. Better to walk an extra block or two east (out the front door and to the right) towards Union Square and go around the long way to avoid the sketchy neighborhood.
The hotel is very conveniently located to Union Square, shops, restaurants, the cable car lines, and the Curran and Orpheum Theaters.
As previous reviewers mentioned, the lobby is often very busy, even late at night. Probably due in part to the lack of internet service in the rooms.
The room was clean. The bathroom fixtures looked like they will be due for replacing in the near future, but were just fine. I would consider this a good hotel, geared more for business travelers. There's evidence of aging, so I wouldn't say it's a luxury hotel and without a refrigerator, not the top of my list for family-friendly hotels.
Request a higher floor.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
January 30, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough review about your stay. You have some great tips to share with your fellow travelers. We are thrilled to hear you were able to the enjoy the lovely views form our 43rd floor! We do our best to ensure that the lines at Starbucks are running smoothly, but apologize that this was not the case during your stay. We are also sorry that there were no refrigerators, you can call our front desk and they would be happy to bring one up for a small nightly fee. We are glad you found the room to be clean, good sized and comfortable. Thank you again for sharing your comments, it will help us work to improve our guest experience and overall product. We hope to welcome you and your family back to San Francisco soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.