Stayed here 5 nights out of total of 15 in NoCal & this was by far my favorite hotel. Here's the breakdown:
- Location stinks UNLESS you're really into all things Japanese (we are) AND/OR you prefer your action to be a short cab/bus ride away versus right outside your door so that you're in a very quiet area at night (we do) AND/OR you're really interested in spending a lot of time in the FiIlmore - which is within walking distance - to catch some music at night (we weren't). So...for us Kabuki's location was pretty perfect; for others, it could be a real hassle (there is NOTHING to do past 7 PM unless you walk over to Filmore or take a cab to another neighborhood)
- Rooms: my sense is that if we had a standard room, we would have been disappointed. The hotel in general feels like it's trying really hard to be a nice place but the staff is working with some fairly old resources (i.e., rooms). However, we booked a Sauna Suite which includes a nice sitting area with sliding doors looking out onto the 'Japanese Garden' (verrrry small and, depending on your room, folks in the reception area could probably look right into your room). This was fine as there were shoji screens that, when closed, let in enough light but provided total privacy. The separate bedroom was large enough but not exactly 'large'. The real winner in the suite was the bathroom: very large counter/sink, separate room with toilet and a very large, glass-doored, tiled shower area with a fabulous shower head and......a separate Japanese soaking tub with complementary bath salts. In addition, there is another door in the bathroom that leads to a private 3-person dry sauna (could probably fit 4 small adults). The sauna was legit: no silly 'safety' devices that kept it from getting as hot as a sauna should be. The entire bathroom area was probably about 1.5 times the size of the sitting room (i.e., it was fairly large) and it is what made the Kabuki a real winner for us. The way we travel, we don't tend to spend much time in the room but instead spending the day being fairly active. The option of coming back to the room after walking several miles in the city and unwinding with a few rounds of sauna followed by a soak in the tub was just awesome.
- The Kabuki Spa: if the Sauna in the room isn't enough, the room comes with complementary passes to a really wonderful day spa and bath house 2 blocks away. I used this a couple of times and was truly impressed with how clean and efficiently run the bath house was.
- Food: have no idea! We didn't eat at the hotel except for a full American breakfast buffet the first morning (which was certainly nice but nothing to write home - or to Tripadvisor - about). There are many Japanese restaurants within a block of the Kabuki but, to our surprise, most of them were pretty mediocre. I'd recommend Ino Sushi in Japantown but other than that, if you're a serious foodie (we are), I'd recommend walking a few blocks or hopping a cab/bus and heading elsewhere.
- The Mall: there is a Japanese mall (actually 2 of them connected by a bridge) that you can access directly from the lobby of the Kabuki. If you're into Japanese culture (Japanese pop culture to be more accurate), this place will keep you busy for hours. My 12 year old daughter is big into the Japanese erasers (Iwaku I believe they're called?) as well as Manga drawing supplies; there were a couple dozen stores for her to explore as well as stationary and origami shops for my wife, and tea shops for me.
- Getting around: taxis a little tough to get without calling but plenty of bus options. Kabuki is 20-25 minute ride from Castro or Mission, 15-20 from Ferry Plaza on Embarcadero (you MUST go have lunch there from one of the outdoor vendors and pick up some fruit during one of the weekly farmers markets), 10-15 minutes from Union Square (if you must go there), 10-15 minutes from Cow Hollow, and 18 light years from Fisherman's Wharf. I.e., while there's not much going on right outside your hotel, you're pretty close to all the areas you'd want to hang out in.
Overall, if you're into the Japanese thing, if you can afford the Sauna Suite (all Joie de Vivre hotels have a price match +10% guarantee on room rates, so shop around and they'll beat the best price you find) and if don't need to roll out of bed and be within a 30 second walk of a Starbucks or other chain establishments, the Kabuki is an absolutely perfect and unique place to stay. If you're a 'tourist' that thinks San Francisco = Fisherman's Wharf, definitely stay away as you'll likely hate this place.
P.S., there's free wifi but it's fairly week in the room; have 3G on my iPad so it wasn't an issue but this could otherwise have gotten to be annoying.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- With a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences, Hotel Kabuki offers sleek and serene accommodations in the heart of Japantown. Unwind in style. Our rooms offer a refined and serene ambiance and an aesthetic that marries Eastern and Western sensibilities. Some feature luxurious amenities like Japanese-style soaking tubs. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Kabuki Hotel San Francisco
- Miyako Hotel San Francisco
- Hotel Kabuki San Francisco
- Kabuki San Francisco