Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel
What We Love
- Authentic Gothic Revival style and Art Deco interiors
- Themed cocktails and variety shows at the Starlight Room’s “Sunday’s a Drag” brunch
- Free morning coffee and tea, and nightly wine served in the lobby
- Read more about what to see and do in San Francisco and Big Sur in our magazine section
What To Know
- Free WiFi is available if you sign up for the free Kimpton Karma program
- Each room is equipped with Yoga TV and mats
- The hotel was built in 1928, so some rooms are cozier than others
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
Named after the 16th-century swashbuckler who sailed the California coast for Queen Elizabeth I, the landmark Sir Francis Drake Hotel blends classic Gothic Revival style with Art Deco glamour. A beefeater doorman welcomes guests in the ornate lobby, which is adorned in Italian marble, crystal chandeliers, spiraling staircases and gold leaf ceilings. The guestrooms are elegantly appointed quarters, with sleek glass-topped furnishings and retro chairs in playful colors of royal purple and silver. Equally stylish is the wood-lined Scala’s Bistro and the Starlight Room, on the 21st floor, where the ruby-red decor tries to compete with the expansive city views.
Bed and Bath
Handsome button-back chairs, Victorian headboards and damask drapes in the 416 rooms and suites channel the kind of opulence you might find in the master bedroom of the namesake naval commander himself. Complementing the hotel’s 1920s flavor are retro modern accents such as bedside lamps in the shape of hitching posts. Located on the upper floors, the stylish suites feature separate living and dining areas. Although small, the bathrooms are well equipped, with granite sinks, coconut-infused Gilchrist & Soames products and animal print robes.
After having a glass during the nightly lobby wine hour, snag a table at Scala’s Bistro, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and local hot spot. Standout dishes include the pesto and ricotta ravioli with lemon cream or marinara sauce, washed down with the Roseblum old-vine Zinfandel. Twenty-one floors up, the Starlight Room is a vibrant nightlife spot that hosts a “Sunday’s a Drag” brunch that features Donna’s Savoy Bounce cocktail (Prosecco, St. Germain, cointreau, absinthe, lemon) and a 45-minute variety show. Although the third-floor fitness center is small and modestly equipped, you won’t need it after spending an afternoon tromping up and down San Francisco’s hills.
In the Area
The hotel is on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, Powell Street, where retail therapy choices include big name brands such as Neiman Marcus, Gucci, Burberry, Prada and Marc Jacobs. Throughout the year lively Union Square is a host to free outdoor entertainment, from Film Night in the Park to monthly concerts showcasing up-and-coming Bay Area musicians. For some of the best views of San Francisco, hike up Grant Avenue to North Beach’s latest artisanal cocktail spot, 15 Romolo; we love the punchy Pimm’s Cup and the Rio Grande (bourbon, Reposado tequila, lemon, lime, syrup). Or hop on the cable car on Powell Street and head for Nob Hill and join well-heeled residents at the speakeasy-style Bourbon & Branch for creative libations. Save room for the best Bay Area bites at the gourmet vegetarian Union Square restaurant Millennium, where herbivores will love the masa dumplings with porcini molé and agave-centric elixirs. For a modern spin on traditional Vietnamese, head over to Charles Phan’s Slanted Door in the Embarcadero’s Ferry Building.
How to Get There
Let me start by saying we are use to more modern hotels. With that being said we were there for 4 days and 3 nights. If you like older hotels then this is for you. The beds were not comfortable, the bathroom was very small, the toilet sits very low. You can request a refrigerator, but there is no access to a microwave at all, so don’t bother bringing back leftovers, because there was not one that you could even use at the hotel. No vending machines, however there was a Walgreens right across the street. Overall, I would not ever book this hotel again. I am still waiting on my 300 dollar deposit to be refunded and it has been 5 days since we returned.
Second stay here and we noticed some upgrades: elevator now works and bath tub has been converted to walk in shower with nice (but not hand-held) shower head. Bathrooms are very small (NYC small) and there is no vent. Bedroom had one Queen bed (VERY comfy with nice linens!) and adequate space. If you are a light sleeper, note that the windows are old single pane and you will hear street noises. This is a great location and we found the check in staff to be very professional. Lemonade and ice tea in the lobby was a nice touch. If you drive, beware of the $62/night parking fee!
I visited in June for a work trip. The hotel itself was fabulous, but as others have mentioned, there were numerous problems dealing with the staff and a $29.00 per day resort fee was applied to my bill afterward. My stay should have been tax-exempt, but taxes were applied both to the resort fee and my stay; it was an enormous hassle to actually get connected to the right person who could remove these charges and coordinate with a third party, with whom I could book. The front desk sent me to accounting, accounting sent me to the front desk, front desk sent me to corporate or the third party booking agent, and around and around it went.
Until Alicia, the account manager. Up to this point, I had probably spent 6 to 8 hours trying to get refunded for the tax charges, and Alicia went above and beyond to coordinate with the third party and finally get me my money back. She responded personally to emails and made a personal call on behalf to the third party. Once I got Alicia on the phone, the issue was resolved in thirty minutes. To any higher level supervisors at the Drake who might be reading this, Alicia needs a raise.
I booked this hotel to stay at with my husband for 5 nights to celebrate my birthday. Hotel is nice, boutique, rooms are very small but nice and bed very comfortable. Bathroom is tiny as well but clean. We really only slept there and were out and about during the day so we did not mind the small room at all. They have a free wine hour daily from 5-6pm. The first day we got in late so we got two complimentary drinks at the bar, other than that we only made it to one wine hour and it was a nice perk for staying there. The Starlight Room was closed for renovations which was a bummer as it was one of the reasons why I chose this hotel. Anyways, they over a $10 credit for every day you do not request new towels so we did that and had $30 at the end which I wanted to apply towards the "resort fee" which most SF hotels charge in addition to the room rate. At checkout the receptionist was so rude and unprofessional. He said the credit is for the restaurant or bar and cannot be applied to the resort fee. I pointed out that it does not state that on the little cards we got but he kept continuing to be on his power trip and arguing with me. Finally the other receptionist too my statement and applied the credit. I would have appreciated a nicer friendlier approach by the receptionist but instead he decided to be rude and argue with me. I would not recommend staying here due to the fact that they do not respect their customers. It is unfortunate as the hotel is nice but next time we are in town we will definitely NOT be staying here.
I like the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. However, upon review of my bill the day before departure, I was not pleased to see a $29.per night Amenity Fee and a 16.4% Tax on it, taking the total up to $33.77 per night - added to what had been a fully paid bill. I was told that it covers high speed WiFi (that should be part of the basic price for the room),, discounts at their restaurant (we should not have to pay a daily fee of over $30 for a $10/day discount at the restaurant. In fact, I had eaten there and the $10 discount had not been applied - until I pointed this out), coffee being provided in the lobby in the morning and wine in the evening I should be able to participate in this or not - but I do not want to pay for it for everyone else - I never had wine or coffee). It bears noting that the guys at the front desk are under a lot of pressure - they have to listen to complaints about this constantly and they wish the fee was removed. As I checked out, one of them removed one day of Amenity Fees from my 5-night stay. I believe he did this due to the fact that I pointed out over $3 that was added to the Room Service Gratuity Fee with no explanation - blatant overcharging. So I still ended up paying 4 Amenity Fees or over $135 more than my room fees- and I am not happy about it. Otherwise, it is a storied old hotel that I used to like, but sadly, will not be visiting again.