Our Stay at the Hilton in Union Square
San Francisco is an amazing city with so much great shopping and restaurants. It actually rivals Paris for one of my favorite cities in the world. Not that I’ve visited ALL the great cities. But of the cities where I have experience – SanFran is definitely a big favorite.
We stayed at the Hilton because we wanted a home base with plenty of amenities that would feel accommodating and welcoming. The Hilton provided that and more. We arrived by taxi and there was Benny (see left) to open the door and welcome us with a smile.
Every person we encountered at the Hilton greeted us with a warm smile and a friendly word, even the woman who cleaned our room. Check in was fast, friendly and efficient. Despite the fact we arrived at a busy time of day (about 4:30 pm) at a busy time of year – we waited less than five minutes to get checked in.
The lobby at the Hilton is a big bustling space. There’s a Starbucks in the corner – a welcome sight. Free wifi in the lobby means there’s always a handful of people working away on their ‘puters.
Sunday morning my sister went to church while I brought my laptop down to the lobby, plugged it into an outlet and settled in with a Chai Latte to work. I enjoy working in lobbies of elegant hotels. Always have. The bustle of people nearby is like music and I seem to focus well in that environment.
The Hilton at Union Square has three towers. We stayed in the first one. We were on the 41st floor so it afforded us outstanding views of the city. When the fog finally cleared Sunday afternoon – we also had a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Our room was spacious, immaculate and bright. I expect no less from a Hilton. We had a nice desk with a true office chair – perfect spot for my laptop, iPad and recharging cell phones when needed. You can see the decor is traditional.
Hipsters can say what they will, when you’re running around all day sightseeing, or, on an uber-busy business trip coming home to a welcoming, comfortable room is pleasant indeed. The picture on the right is my sister Cherie and I on Saturday after our afternoon foray to Fisherman’s Wharf and massive crowds of people. We braved the crowds for awhile. Honestly, all I really wanted to do was get back to our room where we could relax in comfort and figure out what we wanted to do for dinner that evening (another blog post to come).
Our beds and pillows were super comfy. At home, my husband and I have a pillowtop mattress with a down feather topper and 600 thread count sheets – so I’m used to indulgent, cozy comfort at home. There’s nothing worse than scratchy sheets and a mattress that feels like you’re sleeping on a board all night. I slept like a rock all three nights in Hilton comfort.
The bathroom made my sister and I feel like stars with a marble vanity and a lovely framed mirror. Oh, and don’t forget the big, fluffy towels. One of the little niceties I really appreciated was the toiletry items by Peter Thomas Roth. That brand is a very expensive line sold on QVC (yes, the TV shopping channel) so it was even more luxurious to use shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, body lotion and other treats from an elegant line.
When we arrived, we decided to have breakfast at the hotel each day. I’m staying away from the white carbs like bread, potatoes and pancakes, so having a choice from the buffet works to put together a hearty, healthy breakfast the way I like it.
Since I live in the land of buffets – Las Vegas – I’ve learned over the years to scope out all the offerings available and find what you really enjoy, first. Far better than grabbing a plate and piling stuff on mindlessly. Yes, you can eat all you want. However, for me it’s all about selection and choice.
The restaurant at the hotel is called “The Urban Tavern” and it has a Nouveau Rustic charm that’s welcoming and casual while still retaining a degree of elegance. A difficult blend to achieve – however the Urban Tavern pulls it off.
I loved this wall in one room with rustic beams, primitive urns and softly glowing candles. Well, faux candles – but they still add a nice warmth. In another room there is a colorful sculpture of a horse done in brightly-painted metal. It’s huge – about the size of a real steed. It’s almost as if the restaurant is about an old-style tavern jacked up into 2011 sensibilities and modern flair.
What really counts is the food: many of the items on the Breakfast Buffet were staples you’d expect. The Pastries in a tempting array of the patisserie chef’s skill. The Omelettes to order, Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Bacon, cut-up Fresh Fruit, a variety of Juices, Cereal, Oatmeal and more.
But there were little happy surprises that greeted us every morning as well. Smoked Trout to go with your Bagel, Tomato slices and Capers. I loved the Steamed Salmon served up from the buffet line in Asian bamboo steamers. Miso Soup, Congee (sort of an Asian porridge) with Chicken and shots of Mango Tango juice kept things interesting and fresh each morning. Oh, and the Urban Tavern offered tiny glasses of Baked Greek Yogurt (about three bites worth) which was almost as good as a silky Creme Brulee with breakfast.
The service was crisp and professional each day. However, on Sunday morning we got an exceptional server who gave us sightseeing ideas and tips. He seemed to genuinely care about us enjoying our entire day, not just our breakfast. In the picture left Cherie raises a glass of fresh orange juice before we head out for another day of experiencing all San Francisco offers.
In a city that’s often shrouded with fog and temps in July stay below 60 degrees you might think the pool would be overlooked. After all, I was more focused on packing sweaters and socks after checking the Weather Channel for San Fran a few times and didn’t give a thought to bringing a swimsuit.
While I’m accustomed to outrageous pool playgrounds with swim up bars, fake beaches and piped in party music in Las Vegas – if you want to go for a dip the Hilton’s pool is clean, inviting and kept at a perfect 84 degrees year round.
I wish I got a picture of the Health Club. It’s about double or triple the size of what you typically see at a hotel. There were six treadmills, elipticals, stair climbers, recumbent bikes and a variety of gym equipment where it looked like people were getting a pretty good workout. Walking around the city was my workout for our stay – but if I was attending a conference or business meetings, I would certainly make use of the facilities provided.
The picture above certainly isn’t my best work – but I wanted to show you the view from our room I snapped at about 10:15 pm. All day long you could look out the big picture window as the scenery keeps changing from hour to hour. The light in the upper left corner is the flash from my camera, of course.
One more little surprise I enjoyed at our hotel was a cozy area just adjacent to the bank of elevators that whisked us up to our room: I call it the library. Just a cozy, comfortable sitting area. A great place to read a book or how nice to bring your Venti Macchiato from Starbucks and have a quiet business meeting in this space. Most of the time no one was sitting there.
Our entire experience at the Hilton was one where we felt well taken care of. Things seem to work the way they’re supposed to. There were no unhappy surprises – just pleasant ones. Sparkling, clean rooms are great but they’re an expectation, not a surprise. Same with food that’s served hot – it’s supposed to be that way. However, Baked Greek Yogurt, an unexpectedly spacious Health Club, a perfectly heated pool, a library-like sitting area and a smiling Doorman named Benny are all little, happy surprises that seem to be the day-to-day experience of staying at the Hilton at Union Square.
333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco,
California, United States 94102
Tomorrow’s post will be about our dinner at Postrios.