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Reviewed July 28, 2012

Purple purple purple everywhere ~ if you have kids and like Barney perhaps this works for you! The lobby bar has an uber chic feel with high prices to go with it.

The age, regality of this hotel that made Herb Caen's columns with updates of whose who staying there on a regular basis have long since passed. Find it hard to believe this this hotel is still posing as 4 stars = living on reputation from another era. The decor looks like IKEA on steiroids, there is nothing upscale and what they call a remodel I call a can of paint. The bathrooms are original, dated and tired and management must have used 3 tubes of silicon to seal the tub.

The check in was fast (perhaps few staying here) = was handed an upgrade but of course I had already ponied out for the rack rate through the hotel booking site and in seeing these reviews (wish I had read first) they are using Priceline to fill rooms. I had to go inside after waiting parked with door open outside for 5 minutes to track down the valet (there were 3 of them inside the door laughing and conversing but obviously not working).

$60 for valet parking is absolutely outrageous ~ even in a major city <--- important that people are aware of this to avoid sticker shock.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Andy K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2012

Arriving late from an east coast flight to SF, we tried to check in to our originally booked hotel (whose name I won't reveal because they made things right, eventually). It was after midnight and the woman at the other hotel informed us that our room was not ready!! Huh? How could that be? We confirmed a late arrival. We weren't the only ones waiting, there were at least four ahead of us. The staff told us that two airline crews who usually stay at that hotel were both on delayed flights and were late checking out. After waiting an hour, the room still was not ready, so I summoned the manager of the other hotel and demanded some action. He offered us a free night at the Clft and we'd be responsible for the second night. After checking the price for the second night for comparability (it was slightly higher), we agreed. The other hotel paid for our cab to the Clift and then our positive adventure began. Our initial impression was skeptical when we arrived at what looked like a downtown club, with drunk, scantily clad women hoping to get in, and tripping over my luggage. As mentioned in another review, the bouncers were not at all interested in helping us into the lobby so we had to fight our way through and were met by the thumping pulsation of a nightclub in full swing. I looked at my wife with an "Uh Oh" expression. We made our way up to registration where the check-in staff greeted us. I made a comment about this not being what I expected and one of the staff replied, "What, people having fun?" (Screw you, I thought it's 4 am in my brain I don't need your wise-[--] remarks, but I bit my tongue). The manager quickly walked up to the desk and helped us out--agreeing to the free first night, but quoting a higher price than the manager at the other hotel told us. Too tired to argue, I agreed, then he quickly added, I've upgraded you to a Jr. Suite. Ok. that's cool. We'll take it. He assured us it would be a quiet room facing the courtyard (it was). After making our way up the red-lit elevator (there's a green and blue-lit one as well), we arrived in, yes, a lavender-painted lobby facing two glass/lucite chairs. After making our way to the room, we were pleasantly surprised with the size: a long hallway leading to a living room and a bedroom separated by curtains. There was an Interesting lucite coffee-table with a mirrored bottom in the living room, and a large mirror on the wall behind the bed. The bed was a comfortable platform king size and we were happy to collapse on it after we settled in. Our two day stay was very nice there and beyond the initial noisy check-in, we had no further complaints.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Phineas2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
john f, Front Office Manager at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded October 1, 2012

Phineas2,

It's great to read about your surprise trip to Clift.

With an extremely popular bar in our lobby, we do have security personnel on staff to assist in crowd control and I'm sorry in this instance they weren't able to spot you quickly enough to make your arrival smoother. I would like to offer my apologies that your initial impression was a bit skeptical, however I can completely understand. Thank you for your feedback regarding this, I will share your comments to continue to enhance our ability to serve you.

I'm glad you found our decor, rooms, and beds comfortable and enjoyable for your stay. We're very proud of all the unique quirks that make us Clift and hope to host you again on your next visit to San Francisco.

Best,

John

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Reviewed July 25, 2012

Wow, where to begin. Got this tiny, shabby standard room on Priceline. The upgraded rooms are substantially bigger and probably nicer (maybe even worth a 4*). But, for our standard room . . . oh, did I say tiny! The web site says 260 sq. ft but it seemed far smaller. I've never stayed in a room anywhere, anytime that was even close to being this small. My wife and I tried walking side-by-side once and she bumped her thigh on the foot of the bed pretty badly; from then on, one of us would always climb onto the bed before we moved around. There was only room for a single chair (think doctor's office waiting room chair) and it did not have a reading light. The desk was just barely big enough to use a laptop on. The night stands were just cheap plastic cubes about 12" to 18" square. The bathroom was SO tiny I could not turn-around in it w/o making sure the door was either completely open or completely shut. There was not enough room for my wife and I to place our toiletries on the sink and the tiny little 6" by 8" wood stand (never seen anything like that, even at a Days Inn). The toilet was an old style commercial-grade, pull-handle toilet seen now only in Home Depot store and industrial warehouse bathrooms. The seat on the toilet did not even sit squarely on the toilet -- obviously a mismatch. The bathtub was so roughed-up looking that my wife, who loves baths, just looked at me and rolled her eyes when I suggested she take a bath before dinner. This hotel makes the same mistake other "boutique" hotels we've stayed in make: buying furniture from liquidation sales, estate sales and The Salvation Army does NOT make it "stylish", it just makes it shabby! The Good: staff was very nice, king bed was very nice, linens were nice and shampoo was nice. In short, our standard Kind was nothing more than a tiny Days Inn- or Motel 6- grade room. If they sold it as such (2 1/2*) , I'd be giving them a much better review. But, since they hold themselves out as a 4* hotel (Westin, Hyatt, Marriott, etc.), that's how I'm reviewing them and it ain't good! Also, this property is right on the very edge of "The Tenderloin". The moment you cross Taylor street, or walk south toward O'Farrell, you're going to be confronted with homeless people either accosting you for money or passed-out on the sidewalk. Again, ain't good! Incidentally, our bed sheets were NOT changed and we were never asked if that's what we preferred. Come on, not changing sheets w/o asking at a 4* hotel -- you must be kidding.

Room Tip: If you must stay here, do NOT get a standard king; spend the extra $80 or so to get the 300+ sq. ft. upgraded rooms. Otherwise, save your money and find a 2 1/2* hotel.
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Jack B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CliftFOM, Manager at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded July 27, 2012

Hello TA reviewers. I have been monitoring our site over the last year or so while Tyler did his excellent job in responding to our past guests. These last couple of reviews that have posted here are absolutely not in line with what we deliver in terms of service and overall ethos. So this is me, Matthew, saying hello and addressing some of these less than favorable remarks. I always say ones perception is their reality so I will not refute or marginalize any ones feelings.
While minimal design aspect might not always appeal to everyone, the whimsical and charming nature of our product combined with the lively larger than life atmosphere make for a stay that will never be in line with the usual sort of hotel. We want our guests to be enveloped by the whole experience and leave all their troubles behind them and they decompress and enter our world of hotels as theatre.
Since Jack had already gave his feedback via our internal portal, in the spirit of openness with our readers, I will cut and paste (with any personal details removed) my response. Thank you for reading and my apologies for the extensive narrative.

Dear Jack,
Thank you for your feedback. We really appreciate the comments good and bad. Granted the good was it appears the service aspect was on par, and I will share the note about Tyler with him and the team. As for the negative, I can understand your dissatisfaction. Being a hotel in the city, our standard rooms are on the smaller side. We did try to put you in a room with extra windows, in a quieter area of the hotel and with a decent view. Our hotel (and in it bathrooms) are in a historic building. Clift was built in 1914, a time when the size, design and appearance of the bathroom did not have the same importance as it does today. We were limited in what we were able to do on the redesign aspect due to the nature of our site. I personally feel Philippe Starck did a wonderful job with the means he had to make the rooms as warm as possible, but there are certain drawbacks which do not always match up with our guests’ expectations. I am sorry we did not make the grade. Your satisfaction (or lack thereof) is paramount to us and not making you happy is a failure across the board. If there is anything I can do in the future I hope you will look to me as an ally and friend here at Clift. If you should decide to give us another try, I would really like to be there for you. All in all, the least I can hope for is that you know and understand that your feelings were read, heard, and heartfelt. Thank you for giving us a try and I really hope for the chance to change your opinion.
Sincerely,
Matthew

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Reviewed July 23, 2012

This hotel had some really funky décor that I loved, but too many faults for me to recommend it to anyone.
The highlights: The lobby is very cool. There is an assortment of very funky chairs, many of which have animal hides, antlers and horns that make up the uniqueness of the space. There is hip, thumping music played throughout the lobby and annexed space at all times that sets the dark, animalistic mood of the space well. It is a very comfortable and unique public space. The staff was very genial, and check-in and out was a breeze. The final highlight is how close public parking is. Right around the corner is a garage, about $70 for 2 nights.
The Lowlights: everything else. The guest rooms have a completely different vibe than the lobby. All the paint is lavender! The hallways, rooms, walls, woodwork, doors, carpeting, everything: lavender. When we walked into our room it was musky, which indicates an unresolved mildew or (god forbid) mold problem. The bed was a standard spring mattress, with huge down pillows and a down comforter. Personally I found the pillows too tall, the mattress tired and noticed there was no top sheet (WTF?) The bathroom had marble on the floors, walls and interior of the shower, but there was mold growing in the caulk, and mortar missing between some of the marble tiles! Unacceptable! Not to mention, the fixtures were cheap, and the toilet looked like a public toilet. The TV was HD, but the cable was not. It is a Serious foux pas for a 4 star hotel to not provide HD channels on an HD TV, c’mon! Be prepared to shell out $15/day for wi-fi too. In general I am confused about this hotel; clientele who will pay for a 4 star hotel expect a certain standard. And the people who would pay $15/day for wi-fi, or $10 for an episode of 30 Rock will not tolerate mold in the bathroom and no top sheet on the bed! This hotel was a splurge for me, and I feel jipped.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank scrumpy-traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CliftFOM, Manager at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded July 27, 2012

Dear ST,
Thank you for your feedback. I have sent you a PM in hopes you can tell me the room you were in. I would like to get my engineering and housekeeping team up there to investigate and fix any issues.
Some side notes:
- Our mattresses are a little over one year old.
- I have been with the hotel company for over 8 years and never experienced any sort of problem with mold.
- Our guest floors (yes, they are lavender, with hues of grey and our specially made color 'sand') are different from the ethos on the ground floor.

As the story goes we wanted the lobby to me more in tune with the NorCal 'nature' feeling. Earthy tones... lots of wood and natural colors and themes. But when you get to the floors.... It's like you take a magical ride into the clouds and atmosphere in the city of San Francisco.

And the special 'sand' color you may wonder... amazing. Depending on the time of day, angle of the sun, cloud cover (insert lighting variable), and the color changes!

We dare to be different. It is what our guests and staff love about Clift. Or, in some cases, 'not exactly'. ST was half in. ST when you get my IM, please respond. I would really like for you to give us another try.

-Matthew

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Reviewed July 22, 2012

I booked a Loft room at the Clift for my partner's 50th birthday weekend. We're SF natives, but now live in LA. The Clift always had a good (albeit trendy) reputation, so I felt safe booking this important weekend there.

But it started off poorly and got much, much worse.

We arrived around midnight on a Friday night. There was a line of people outside trying to get into the club that is in the lobby. We had a hard time crossing the line to get into the hotel and received no assistance from the doormen. They were more interested in the scantily clad women in the line for the club. Seriously irritating. Then, when we finally got into the hotel, we couldn't even get to the check-in desk because the party was flowing out of the club and into the lobby. Then, when we finally did get to the check-in desk, I couldn't hear anything the front desk employee was saying because of all the noise from the club. Terrible first impression. No problem with having a club in the lobby, but it shouldn't ruin the introduction for hotel guests.

We finally got to the elevator to our room about 25 minutes later. When the elevator doors open on your floor, you feel like you're in a mortuary. EVERYTHING is the same shade of gray. The carpet, the walls, the furniture...and there is no art anywhere. I'm all for modern design, but this was creepy.

Then, we got to our room. Same thing. Creepy design, although there was at least some colored lucite furniture to slightly lighten things up. But, overall, it was very, very depressing. Only saving grace is the bed is very comfortable.

OK, now is when things got really, really bad. It was a cold SF summer night, but the room was over 90 degrees. I turned on the Aircon right away, but it wasn't cooling off. Turns out the heater was "stuck on", and dialing up the Aircon was only exacerbating the problem by blowing even more hot air into the room. The handyman came and told us nothing could be done about it. He asked whether we wanted the window open to cool things off. Apparently, we had no other choice, so we said "yes". But then the BOOM, BOOM, BOOM from the lobby wafted in, making it impossible to sleep. We had to shut the window and swelter through the night.

By the way, no apology and no discount for this.

Then, we finally got to sleep. After about 15 minutes of slumber, the alarm clock goes off. The alarm clock has no buttons on it...at all. So, after looking it over, we just hit it. It went off, so we went back to sleep. 15 minutes later, it happened again...turns out hitting it is just the equivalent of "snooze". I could not find any way to turn it off, so I just unplugged it. 15 minutes later, it goes off again...battery back-up. The battery compartment requires a screw driver to open, which we did not have...so there was no way to shut this thing off. We just put it in the bathroom and closed the door, but it kept going off.

Suffice it to say that there was no sleep to be had.

When I told the front desk about the disastrous experience in the morning, I got no reaction...until they saw where I worked...and then it was just a "Oh, S&%T" look from the employee. The Clift is my company's preferred hotel in SF. But still no apology and no offer for a discount.

We couldn't wait to bolt out of this place. We went to the St. Regis for the rest of the weekend and had an excellent experience...for the same rate.

Take my word for it, stay somewhere else.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank JMBINCA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
john f, Front Office Manager at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded October 1, 2012

JMBINCA,

First I would like to say thank you for taking the time to detail your experiences at Clift. It's disheartening to read the variety of issues that culminated during your stay.

I would very much like the chance to show you what a great experience you can have and always expect from our hotel. Please reach out to me at your convenience so that I can assist you in arranging your next visit to San Francisco, and ensure you receive a stay that you can both be excited about.

Sincerely,

John

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