I love going to the San Remo hotel. And it just happens to be in the greatest city in America. I’ve been there several times over the past 10 years. It’s very much like going to a favourite aunt’s house for the weekend. It never seems to change.
The place is warm, welcoming and cluttered. Rooms are small, the furniture is eclectic, vines (real and faux) cling to the pipes, carpets are a tad past well broken in, the windows have pull down shades and lace curtains, wood and brass accents and accessories abound, accessing the bathroom is a timed and thoughtful process and you don’t really want to make a lot of noise because you will be heard. The place is very quiet and ever so slightly claustrophobic.
You won’t be lingering in your room. Rooms are a bit cramped, a little awkward and are more a place to sleep or take a quick nap, to drop off your packages, to use the bathroom and then hit the streets to explore lovely San Francisco again. WiFi access is excellent so you can listen to radio or watch TV on your iPad or iPhone. Otherwise you may have to resort to a book in the bookcases in the hallways.
Bathroom and shower facilities are mostly shared, convenient and spotless. It’s embarrassing to see how clean they are compared to your own.
A one night stay will always be great value but it takes a while to warm to the place and establish protocol: finding the washrooms, toilets and sinks, wandering the halls looking at the nick-nacks and doodads, reading the helpful hints and peering into and up & down the nooks and crannies and skylight shafts. Three nights are perfect as you acquire the pace and rhythm of the place and the location of the amenities. The pace of your life slows down a bit to accommodate the character of the place.
On it’s own you must try San Remo for a few days to appreciate the experience. But as the centre place for exploring San Francisco it’s unbelievable value. It is perfectly located. Head out the front door, turn right and in 3 blocks you’re on Columbus Ave – Italian restaurants, cafes and groceries – a living, bustling community. Turn left and in 4 or 5 blocks, past Safeway, Trader Joes for supplies, Starbucks and you’re at the touristy, tacky wharf and at the terminus for the F line street car to conveniently ride out to Castro or the Mission. The Coit Tower is a good walk away through side streets. The Taylor/ Powell cable car terminus is 3 blocks away to jolt and jostle you to the other side of town. China town is an easy walk away.
Admittedly the place is not everybody:
If you’re prone to complain about the room service, don’t come. There isn’t any.
If snapping open a beer, flopping on the bed and switching on the flat screen TV are your idea of hotel fun than this is definitely not the place for you.
If your wife or girlfriend is a bit frisky than this may not be the best place for a passion-fest.
If the sweet charm of being greeted in your room with a tiny wicker basket containing 2 boxes of SunMaid raisins and 2 chocolate candies escapes you then don’t come and then start to complain.
Hopefully you’ll have 5 or 6 days in San Francisco. Make the first 3 at the San Remo. When you get back home the first thing you’ll tell your friends about is the San Remo (good or bad); A year from now, in addition to the Golden Gate bridge, you’ll only remember the quiet, sweet time visiting an old aunt in San Francisco.
My last visit there I happened upon Robert one of the operator/owners of the San Remo. If you have any complaints of substance ask for him if he’s around. He’s a thoughtful, helpful fellow. But be polite, he means well and is almost like family.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are a family-owned historic boutique pension-style hotel located in North Beach, one of San Francisco's oldest and most popular tourist destinations, and only a few blocks from Fisherman's Wharf. Built in 1906, our hotel maintains an atmosphere of Old-World charm and ambiance with specially selected antique furnishings - no two rooms are alike. The walls of the hotel are filled with a collection of memorabilia and history. Our style is simplicity and sanctuary - there are no room telephones, no televisions, and on the order of European pensions, shared baths which are meticulously cleaned daily, and are private when in use, but for all guests to use. Our rooms are cozy and small, our prices are proportional. Our staff is available while our Front Desk is open to help you find anything your heart desires. A truly unique, non-standardized hotel experience. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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