Arrival/Check-In: A friendly doorman in a bright red uniform welcomed me to the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, whisking me into the bright and airy reception area. The Mandarin has undergone a major renovation during the past year, switching out its black granite, red and gold décor for one of butterscotch, reflective metals and sea blues. I arrived more than an hour prior to official check-in, but my room was immediately available. The receptionist mastered pronunciation of my surname, inquired about which of four newspapers I preferred delivered each morning and offered me fresh, hot tea. A valet then escorted me past the bustling Brasserie S&P to the elevators. As we made our way to the 44th floor, the valet boasted of the Mandarin’s 25 years of luxury service.
Guest Quarters: The star of my Bridge to Bridge Room was the view. Windows ran the height of two walls, with an incredible city vista spanning the Bay and Golden Gate bridges. The valet showed me how to open the windows, ushering in a refreshing breeze and subdued city noise (air conditioning is available). The soft décor, including a gold metallic tray ceiling, a comfy sage velour chair and ottoman, and a spacious desk, allowed the view to take center stage. The Mandarin Oriental is the third-tallest building in the city, with guest quarters occupying the 38th to 48th floors, making the most of the city skyline. A tray of fresh sliced fruit and berries awaited at a side table. (The next evening, I was surprised to find a pot of hot tea and cookies on the ottoman after returning from a day exploring the city.) Still recovering from an early-morning East Coast flight, I eagerly sank into the plush king-sized bed. Though the television swivels to face either the desk or the bed, I was content to watch the bay. After a quick rest, I checked out the spacious bathroom. It was elegantly laid out, with a deep tub and a glass-walled shower. I was impressed with the huge rainfall showerhead but was a bit disappointed when it couldn’t be adjusted. When I tested the temperature of the spray, I ended up soaking the bathroom floor.
Services/Amenities: Before heading out for the evening, my husband and I stopped by The Bar at Brassiere S&P, known for its extensive gin-and-tonic options. Soft jazz music floated through the restaurant as the dinner hour approached. The restaurant and bar are casual but elegant. While we selected our cocktails from an interactive menu, the bartender served us a small platter of salted almonds, pickled radishes and olives. I settled on the Farmer’s Gin Martini, which included a lemon peel stamped with the Chinese symbol for long life. Small details like this added up to a great impression. The menu included tempting raw bar, seafood and Asian fusion options. Though the hotel was at full occupancy, the service was smooth and unrushed. Prior to the renovation, the hotel featured fine dining on the second floor. The post-renovation first-floor lounge is popular in the local business community, drawing patrons from the surrounding financial district for after-work cocktails. During our stay, we dined in our room and at the restaurant, and the cuisine was fresh, creative and well presented. I especially enjoyed the smoked salmon breakfast platter.
Renovations on the third floor still were underway but entirely unobtrusive during my stay. The entire floor is now a spa and fitness area.
The Experience: The Mandarin’s financial district locale not only is prime for business travelers (and features rooms that can be reserved for meetings, plus a business center on the 45th floor) but also is just a short stroll to the city’s Ferry Building and market stands. This was a plus when my internal East Coast alarm clock woke me much too early. The courteous staff welcomed me by name and offered directions, transportation and tips whenever we headed out. The bright, airy décor contributed to a stay that felt restful and refreshing. I was sorry to leave this San Francisco gem.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Separate tub and shower
- Large vanity
- High-quality towels
- Powerful, unattached hair dryer
- High-quality bed linens
- Large, flat-screen television
- Large desk with convenient outlets
- Complimentary in-room WiFi
- Complimentary bottled water
- Stocked minibar
- Ample lighting
- In-room coffeemaker
- Iron and ironing board
- On-site restaurant and bar
- 24-hour room service
- Large, complimentary laptop safe
- State-of-the-art fitness center
Mandarin Oriental San Francisco
222 Sansome St.
San Francisco, CA 94104
tel 415 276 9888
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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