Recently spent 5 nights at the Hotel Bijou, before I get into my actual review I think a few background comments regarding: my travel style, why I chose the Bijou, my experiences re: SF hotels, etc. are worthwhile.
a) In general I look for bargains and/or budget hotels (I’d rather spend my money on other things). That’s not to say the quality of the hotel doesn’t matter, but that more often I’ll go with a good 3 (maybe 2?) star hotel rather than a 4 or 5 star hotel (unless I get a great rate). I’m more concerned with adequate, clean accommodations than I am the room/lobby decor, a pool or fitness center, restaurant/bar, big fancy TV, etc.
b) I have stayed at a handful of budget Union Square area hotels in SF and these are generally the yardstick against which I measured the Bijou.
c) I specifically picked the Bijou for this trip for 2 main reasons. First, proximity to the seminars I would be attending. The Bijou was only a block away and the hotels I have experience with (and others I considered) were not as close (some only 3 or 4 blocks, but others as many as 8-10 blocks). The reason I put a premium on proximity was the seminars started as early as 7:45 am and I’m not a morning person; saving even a few minutes of walking translated into additional sleep/wake-up time. Second, I got a pretty fantastic rate at the Bijou (well under $100/night *including* SF’s ~15% tax). Another (minor) reason was to gain personal experience with another budget Union Square hotel for future reference.
Overall I was happy with my stay at the Bijou. Check-in was quick & efficient and my room was available when I showed up ~2 hours before “official” check-in time (which was appreciated as I’d been traveling for ~9 hours). I was able to drop my bags, freshen up and then head out to enjoy my first afternoon in SF. They gave me a room in the back (based on my longer stay?), which meant that noise from the street and/or the bar next door (mentioned in some other reviews) was not an issue for me at all. Also, the convenience of just over a (short) block walk from the Powell Street MUNI/BART station was great for my arrival & departure.
As for the room, it was a little worn, but not bad and was clean. It was on the small side and a bit cramped, but that was somewhat expected (after all it is a budget hotel). I did have a single large bed, not the twins or (two doubles?) that some rooms have and these might be a little more spacious. The closet was as large or larger than even those found at nicer hotels, so I was able to keep all of my stuff “out of the room” which helped. Bathroom was adequate and clearly some of the fixtures were newer. Window opened into a light “tunnel” on the rear of the building so it was easy to get fresh air. Plenty of lighting options in the room and pillows on the bed. Room also included an iron/ironing board & hairdryer. My complaints? The bed was softer than I like and the blankets were on the light side. I might have been in trouble if my wife had been there (she likes to sleep “cold” and without enough blankets I can get uncomfortable while sleeping). I didn’t see any extra blankets in the room, but I suppose you could ask for some (but I didn’t so don’t want to say for certain you’d get them).
As for non-room aspects of the hotel. The rest of the hotel was also a little worn, but not bad. The lobby has a small seating area and there is the “theatre” as well. (I never did attend any of the movie “showing.”) Also, I never had the breakfast they offer (in a room off the back of the lobby?), but did partake of the free coffee located in the theatre most morning. I believe some reviewers have found the (SF) movie theme tacky, I didn’t. Now, some of the movies associated with the rooms are less than “stellar” and I’m not sure I would consider them “SF movies” in the truest sense (in that the city isn’t showcased), but let’s face it that’s a non-issue. Lastly, I did have some difficulty with using my room key to enter the lobby late at night, but this was probably more me than any inherent problem, the staff at the desk came to my “rescue” and didn’t have a problem (I think I wasn’t “swiping” it fast enough).
Moving to the outside. While not formally/significantly any closer to the “dreaded” Tenderloin than many of the nearby (more upscale) hotels (the Hilton and Nikko are just a block away), it is closer to Market Street. In this area that translates into a (slightly?) increased presence of street people. Also, it seemed that the bar next door tended to draw them at night (to try to bum smokes from bar patrons?) and in the morning (having sheltered under the bar’s marquee?). I spent many years in SF’s Civic Center area so I am experienced with this sort of thing and it didn’t cause me a problem, but I can see how it would disturb others. I will say that of the budget hotels I’ve stayed at in SF, the Bijou had the most consistent & greatest street person presence outside.
Bottom Line: I would consider the Bijou again, but all things equal it would not be my first choice of budget Union Square hotels. All things, however, are rarely equal and it could move up on my list based on a better rate, proximity to other things and, of course, just plain availability. Also, my very good rating is based at least somewhat on the great rate I got; had I paid more I would be more likely to have rated the Bijou as average.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Bijou is the most unique of all the Bay Area boutique hotels in downtown San Francisco. Inspired by San Francisco's rich cinematic history, our San Francisco Union Square hotel is adorned with classic movie palace designs and dramatic Hollywood portraits. Each of our 65 comfortable guest rooms in our Union Square hotel in San Francisco is named after a motion picture shot here in the city. Using the original movie stills as decorative accents, Hotel Bijou provides our guests with the most interesting downtown San Francisco hotel rooms while simultaneously keeping you centrally located to everything this exciting city has to offer. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bijou Hotel San Francisco
- Hotel Bijou San Francisco
- Bijou San Francisco