Fairmont San Francisco
What We Love
- All rooms and suites received a $21 million renovation in 2014
- The unparalleled city skyline and bay views in Signature Bay View rooms
- It’s the only place in the city where each of the city’s cable car lines meet
- Rooftop culinary garden houses four nascent beehives that provides honey for the hotel’s two restaurants and namesake beer
- Read more about what to see and do in San Francisco and Big Sur in our magazine section
What To Know
- Join the Fairmont President’s Club — which doesn’t cost a dime — for free WiFi and access to the Active Sports Club Nob Hill
- Parking costs $64 a day
- The surrounding neighborhood is one of the city’s hilliest — bring good walking shoes
- There are often a lot of business travelers and conventioneers here, so it can feel busy at times
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Planted in prime position atop Nob Hill, The Fairmont San Francisco is a true landmark in an equally iconic neighborhood. Time-honored details like velvet chairs, mahogany furnishings, ornamental Corinthian columns, gilded frames and marble accents remain wonderfully in tact since the hotel first opened its doors in 1907. Every president since Truman has bedded down within its hallowed halls, which are adorned in celebrated photographs that bespeak the hotel’s storied history by the decade. Each of the 591 rooms and suites complement the hotel’s prominent features with modern luxuries and unmatched views.
Bed and Bath
Fresh off the hotel’s $21 million renovation, the historic Main Building’s expansive rooms and suites feature beautifully restored wrought iron fixtures and white crown molding that anchor contemporary details of sapphire button-back loungers, handcrafted ombre glass lamps and floral paisley-printed carpets and drapes. Spanning 29 floors, the Tower Building’s modernly sophisticated rooms and suites offer exceptional views of the city and bay. But nothing rivals the vistas available in the Signature Suites that — like many of the renovated rooms — exhibit framed work by local artists. Nothing short of elegant, the marble bathrooms come equipped with Rose 31 products in the glass-encased rainfall showers — as well as the jetted tubs available in the spacious suites.
The hotel features a rooftop culinary garden that spans 1,000 square feet and includes four nascent hives with 250,000 bees that produce up to 1,200 pounds of honey per year. Each batch is procured for delectable desserts, dressings, and afternoon tea, as well as the hotels own artisanal honey beer available at the Laurel Court Restaurant & Bar. The bees are spearheading The Fairmont San Francisco’s history of environmental stewardship, which includes homegrown and sustainable ingredients on the farm-focused seasonal menus at Laurel Court and the historic Tonga & Hurricane Room. Local dishes like fried Saimin noodles and hibachi-grilled beef tri tip are served grotto-side at the subterranean restaurant, where live music can be heard every night in between claps of thunder from a flashing tropical storm simulator.
In the Area
A stroll down one of Nob Hill’s many steep hillside streets will lead you to the lively Union Square, which throughout the year is a host to free outdoor entertainment, from Film Night in the Park to monthly concerts showcasing up-and-coming Bay Area musicians. Take a walk along Powell and surrounding streets, home to such big name brands as Neiman Marcus, Gucci, Burberry, Prada and Marc Jacobs. For some of the best views of San Francisco, hike up Grant Avenue to North Beach’s latest artisanal cocktail spot, 15 Romolo, where we love the punchy Pimm’s Cup and the Rio Grande (bourbon, Reposado tequila, lemon, lime, syrup). Or hop the cable car back to The Fairmont San Francisco stomping grounds of Nob Hill to join its well-heeled residents at the speakeasy-style Bourbon & Branch for creative libations. Save room for the best herbivore bites at Union Square restaurant Millennium, where the masa dumplings with porcini molé and agave-centric elixirs are musts. For a modern spin on traditional Vietnamese, head over to Charles Phan’s Slanted Door in the Embarcadero’s famed Ferry Building.
How to Get There
OK, this is one of the oldest hotels in San Francisco and some of the hotel has some great history but some of this history comes with a price, this is a great hotel and you can walk the halls looking at images of past presidents and the rich and famous staying at this hotel but I am going to give you an insight into some of the areas you may not know.
We stayed here in the first week of July 2019 and booked a Fairmont room, now these rooms are in the old building and not in the newer built part of the hotel but what we got was some good and some not so good,
The good parts first, we were in the old historic building that has survived many earthquakes and your staying in this historic building, the reception area of the main building is amazing, your staying where presidents, the UK royal family and the rich and famous have walked.
The bad part is with rooms in the old building you could get a room where your view is not as you have thought or was described when you booked, they describe the rooms as having views being across very parts of San Francisco and what some of these rooms offer is far from this, with some rooms you get a view of the back court yard overlooking four white walls all with the same room view, not a view of San Francisco as promised, now to get these views you have to pay extra and get the Fairmont rooms with views as a minimum, book just the Fairmont room and your not going to get any view you want to look at.
We had two inter joining rooms and to say they differ massively is an understatement, one room had warm water and the other hot water, when I asked at the guest services desk why, I was told this is due to legal reasons that you can not offer too hot water in case of burns but when i mentioned our other room had hotter water I was told it came from the same supply and I felt like they had no idea why.
The other thing about the rooms is as its an old building the layout is very odd, lots of empty wasted space and a lot other parts where the room has items cramped together, yes you are limited by the old building design but a little thought in layout would make getting to items like the in room coffee facilities easy to get to as you more or less have to sit on the bed to make a coffee drink where other parts of the room you have space to swing a cat.
One issue we did have was our neighbouring room, when they ran the shower or bath it sounded like you were running the water in your room, again this may be due to the old hotel design but getting woken at 4am by the people in the room next door was not a great start to our day.
With the joining rooms one thing that was noticeable was the lack of room cleaning as when the two doors were open there was a massive amount of dust and dirt in this area, something we would not have expected from a claimed 5 star hotel.
One little gem in this hotel is the roof garden and this is an amazing part of the hotel and if you ever stay here you need to visit the roof top garden it is a hidden gem, the garden is well maintained and the view from the garden is worth a visit and you can sit in the garden taking a breather from those hills.
If you stay at this hotel be warned, it is at the top of Nobb Hill and it is a walk up hill to get back to your hotel should you go out for the day, yes you can get various transport to get you back but if you want to walk its not for anyone who is not able to walk up steep hills.
With this being said would be stay here again, the answer is Yes, now we know the rooms and what to ask for next time and what to book this hotel is a little gem and worth staying, would I stay here if it was all the same rooms as we had on this visit then no, make sure you do not book a Fairmont room unless you have the views, after all this is what the hotel advertises as why you pay extra to stay here and why you want to stay on the top of Nobb Hill.
We booked at a reduced rate, but got offered an upgrade on arrival.
The room was magnificent; just in front of alcatraz with a view of the Golden GAte bridge to one side and the Bay Bridge to the other.
Lots of other local sites to bee seen from bay window also.
The tropical restaurant with the floating band in the pool is a bit kitschy, but there is wonderful history in the hotel and it is one to stay in for your bucket list
The guy at the desk in a gray suit in the afternoons was a bit tetchy, but all others were great.
The Fairmont is a very traditional hotel. Rooms are nice and have everything you expect of a 5 star hotel, they are clean and well maintained, however they are kind of old-fashioned. The lobby is very nice and stylish, the concierge and the staff at the front desk is helpful and polite. A definite downside is the breakfast. The buffet costs USD 35, if you are not a breakfast-type and like just a bagel and a coffee, there is no alternative. When I asked, if they would serve me just a small breakfast, I was sent away by a very rude server who told me that there might be places where I can get "free coffee"... (There used to be a coffee place in the hotel, however they have closed this in the meanwhile.)