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
- 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
A bit oldish hotel. Rooms are small but functioning. Bathroom really in need of renovation. Beds are cosy. Great location with many attractions close by or easy to reach. Rooms are a bit noisy, you can hear your neighbours discussiond
My husband stays here often as his corporate office is in SF and Kimpton is usually a preferred hotel of his. I’m usually skeptical as I travel with our two young children.
Sir Francis Drake was amazing! They were amazing with our children! Doris and Mike at the front desk were amazing. Fucundo our server and the food at Scala’s restaurant was also perfect.
Everything about our stay exceeded our expectations.
There was an issue with our reservation, that could have been a real problem, if it was not for the hotel concierge Leif Abram, who couldn't have been more helpful, great guy. We would have given a score of 5, if there hadn't been a problem with the lifts. As the hotel was lovely and the location couldn't have been better.
I have struggled to write a fair review of this hotel in the center of San Francisco. There are many plusses to the property.... it is ideally located.... The lobby has an old world charm.... The Starlight bar has a killer view.... But, there were some things that glaringly diminished my enjoyment of the property.
Let me start out with the elevator situation. I looked back at previous reviews and I am not the only one who has mentioned them. I went back more than six months and the complaints were the same.... They don't work... or work so slowly and are so inadequate that they make every guest wait and when they finally come, they are packed with other patient waiting people. You would think after so much time that someone would have fixed the problem.... In fact, one of the four was not even functioning. This should be a priority.
I made my booking through Booking.com whom I have used on numerous occasions. The hotel could not locate my reservation even when I provided a confirmation number and details from Booking.com. Through their own administrative error, they had booked me the month before. Luckily, they could accommodate me.
The rooms, although moderately sized are dated and in much need of renovation.... The tile in the bathroom is old and has cracks. The stopper in the sink did not work... I could go on.
This is a Kimpton property. I expect more here...
I have also looked at the response from the management and each time they give a "pro-forma" response and nothing changes. Apologies with no correction are pretty empty.
There are a myriad number of hotels in the Union Square area. You would do better to stay at one of these.
My husband and I stayed at the Sir Francis Drake hotel in early July, Saturday through Tuesday. Check in was quick and easy. The decor and atmosphere is very unique and fun. Definitely not your standard hotel carpet and furnishings. It was fun to splurge for our romantic getaway, but I would never pay to bring our kids along.
We stayed in a Grand King room. It was spacious with a couch and coffee table, two large windows looking over downtown, a large TV, two closets, desk/chair and an additional chair. There was an in room yoga mat provided and plenty of space for a flow.
The bathroom was kind of small with no counter space. There was a tub/shower and a separate shower. The shampoo, conditioner and body wash were in dispensers attached to the wall as opposed to small bottles. There was a hair dryer, iron and ironing board provided. The light in the bathroom was some type of motion sensor or energy saving light because it turned off on it's own. Once it turned off in the middle of my shower and I had to finish in the dark.
I loved our room, but one downside was the lighting. As far as putting on make-up, there was no good lighting in the room or bathroom. That was kind of annoying as I was trying to look good for my husband on our time away from the kids.
The mini fridge was stocked with soda, juice and liquor. There were also nuts, energy bars, a lovers kit, flashlight and other overpriced items available in the room.
The only other negative is the elevators. We were on floor six and every time we wanted to go down, the elevator took forever. Several time we took the stairs. But you just can't take the stairs when you've got lots of luggage. Once we crammed into an elevator car that I normally would have waited for the next one because it was pretty full already. I apologized and said that the elevator didn't come to our floor very often and the other riders said it was the same for all floors. My husband let me know once we got off that I had been crammed next to a movie star!
The location seemed perfect. I am not familiar with San Francisco, but it seemed that everywhere we visited was either in walking distance or a short uber ride. We never waited longer that a few minutes for Uber. I suppose it goes with being in a big city, but be prepared for constant noise, from the trolly to the street musicians. It was never bad enough to keep me awake though.
In the lobby was a large bar and seating area, again with great decor. The bartender served us quickly and my cocktail was delicious. The rooftop bar was closed during our stay on Sunday and Monday, so unfortunately we did not get to go. We did have breakfast at Scalias one morning and it was pretty standard fare, but tasted great and they made my over easy eggs perfectly. The service was also perfect. We also ordered room service twice and everything arrived quickly and just as ordered.
And of course, where else will you find a beefeater at your hotel entrance? I didn't even know what a beefeater was before, but the gentlemen really added to the whole ambiance of the hotel.