Detailed review by Helencbradshaw
East Bridgford, United Kingdom
Choosing a hotel for our recent trip to San Francisco was difficult indeed. We were travelling with my younger sister who had a smaller budget than us. Then there is the inevitable situation where you think you have found the perfect hotel and a visit to tripadvisor.com for previous guest history puts you off altogether. Finally we found something which seemed to tick all the boxes with regards to price, luxury and location with the Renaissance Stanford Court Hotel.
The Stanford Court is actually part of the Marriott group of hotels. Its official classification is four stars although we booked it via Virgin Holidays, who actually classify it as five stars. While there is probably some official reason why it is only four stars, for me it had all the ambience and service of a truly five star hotel.
I shopped about like crazy for rates, both on and off line and finally booked via Virgin holidays for the rate of £95 room only per night for a double room (whether sole or twin occupancy). This seemed to be the best deal at the time, however Marriott's website can offer some good rates, with rooms from $179 USD at the time of writing, even for very late availability.
It doesn't take many snapshots on the official hotel site to entice the potential traveller to this hotel. Firstly it was in the ideal location at the corner of California and Powell Streets, and right in the heart of Nob Hill, where the cable cars, such a feature of San Francisco, run. Combined with that, the fantastic lobby and for the money, I was sure the Stanford Court could not disappoint.
The hotel itself takes up the block along California Street and contains almost four hundred rooms laid out along the sides of the inner atrium. On the first visit to the hotel itself, and indeed to California, the steepness of those streets is amazing, and the hotel appears to be as high as you can be, and very close to the China town area (as well as the very wobbly Lombard Street).
We were certainly not disappointed on arrival via taxi transfer from the airport (around $40). The hotel has an inner courtyard in which cars and taxis can pull in from the main drag, and this reception area is simply stunning and manned by concierges 24/7. Our luggage was lifted for us while we went to check in.
There was no queue at the reception desk and this was typically manned by at least two people, so check in was swift. We left our AMEX card for extras, and when my sister tried to leave her debit card the receptionist was helpful to point out that the "pre-auth" might be a problem for her if she intended to spend on the card. They do take a $100 pre-auth per night, which is quite a lot, particularly as we knew for at least 2/5 nights we would not be making extensive use of the facilities. My Amex card was good for two rooms however and up we went.
There are three lifts serving the floors all close to the reception and it felt like our room was as diametrically opposite the lift as was possible in a large hotel. The room itself was very luxurious, if traditional in style with oak furnishings and ornate lamps. We had two Queen Beds, while sister had one Queen Bed.
A particularly nice service feature was that of the wake up call. It was entirely possible to set your own call via the phone, however if you opted for the Operator assisted wake up call, then you benefited from complimentary coffee in your room, as well as a complimentary USA today. Having learned this early on we took advantage of it each day, and it was also possible to help yourself to tea and coffee in the lounge bar, complete with polystyrene cups and lids, ideal for the business guest.
Despite having travelled for almost 24 hours, it was still an early Friday evening in SF and so one hour after arrival we found ourselves in the bar, (finding it hard to stay awake, but in the bar nevertheless). The service and atmosphere was excellent, with light piano music, and ample seating so you could be private if you wished. Drinks were not cheap, and our first night's drinks averaged $11 a glass for a decent sauvignon and $5.50 for a bottle of beer. Cocktails were a massive $17.50 and even more expensive than the Ritz Carlton where we had drinks on the hen night and wedding day. Anyway, as we only had the two rounds, we coped!
The bathroom toiletries are not a feature I tend to write about very often. Mostly as unless they are something like Molton and Brown, they are usually of very poor quality. In the case of the Stanford Court, while they were of unknown origin, they were of exceptional quality and they were in abundance. The lemongrass soap was to die for, and I loved the moisturiser and made sure I cleared all bottles of it. There were at least 10 different items within the toiletry range.
It felt a little strange in that while the hotel has almost 400 bedrooms, the foyer area and bar seemed to absorb them without any problem. The hotel is a large venue for corporate events and we saw several groups in our five days, mainly being catered for in the lower lobby.
The hotel itself has a couple of small shops and an award winning restaurant, Fournou's Ovens. We did admire the menu one evening, but elected to eat out instead. It was not a cheap restaurant, however I did find that eating and drinking in America is not as cheap as it used to be and the prices in the restaurant were affordable if a little luxury.
We had a room only rate, but the hotel did offer an extensive breakfast menu with different options available. At first glance these seemed a little expensive but as we rarely had change from $20 with tip, per head, when eating out, they actually offered good value for money.
The other key guest services were a well staffed concierge desk and the business centre. Internet access was available for 50c a minute (a quick on and off for your email!). My sister and I both took advantage of this service on a couple of occasions. The concierges could also arrange a more upmarket transfer in their Town Cars. We both went back to the airport separately for $45 which is marginally more expensive than the taxi in, but worth it for the exclusivity of the journey.
Location wise, Stanford Court is ideal, on the fringes of the China town district, across the road from the trolley car stops and about a ten minute walk downhill to Union Square (but a STEEP walk back up the hill). The hotel, set on the site of the mansion of one of the great railroad millionaires is a luxurious property, and if you can find yourself a deal like we did, then you will not be disappointed.
Renaissance San Francisco Stanford Court Hotel