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
First off, the building - especially the lobby - has loads of charm, and having a cocktail there was an absolute pleasure.
The location is extremely convenient, both for pedestrians as well as those hopping on a trolley.
I stayed in an older part of the hotel; while the rooms are small, they are bright, and the beds are comfortable. That said, all of the furniture in my room (and the mattress on the bed) were oddly askew when I checked in, and there was no mini-fridge, despite there being a bar menu for one. The windows are painted shut but don’t provide much insulation - I was in the 9th floor and could hear people’s conversations on the street.
The bathrooms are bright but tiny; the water pressure in the shower was so poor that I had to finish rinsing my hair in the sink.
The food is passable - the Italian restaurant is fine for a quick bite with colleagues, but the room service burger somehow managed to be undercooked and burnt at the same time.
Ultimately, this is the ultimate Kimpton property - the location is great, the staff is lovely, the food is fine, and the bathrooms leave something to be desired. I’d visit again, but might pay for a newer room.
The room is small, it is an old hotel. For the price I paid, the front desk staff not gracious. I had to have my key made 4x....no apologies....they acted like it was my fault. Has a seedy feel to it. Best thing is having Italian restaurant attached. I will not stay here again.
This hotel has the classic style with large bar, lobby and the cool marble. Do not expect large modern rooms with two double beds, mini bar and modern bathroom and balconey, however do not let this deter you from a great stay.
The Sir Francis Drake is perfectly situated in San Francisco for tourist. The old trolley line is out front and a quick fun ride to the Harbour side. They also have a happy hour in the lobby with free wine and nibbles. The service in the hotel is good and the staff were very helpful when we had a medical emergency and required a later checkout which they accommodated and waived any further fees. I am very grateful for their help and understandings.
Definitely recommend this hotel, especially as there may be dodgy parts of San Francisco, because of where we stayed and the planning ahead we felt safe throughout our trip.
There's also a restaurant (which I'll do a separate review) and the concierge was very good in recommending day trips and booking a secret food tour of the Mission. All of the staff were friendly and helpful. I recommend this hotel, however note that it is an older building so do not expect all of the modern conveniences, but that is the nice character which sets this hotel apart from any of the big chain motel/hotel.