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Union Square, San Francisco
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Fresh orchids brighten up the Campton's lobby.
Housed in two adjoining century-old buildings, this 110-room luxury boutique is a revelation in bustling Union Square. It has an unassuming entrance, but this 26-year-old hotel is a high-end treasure. Much of the hotel's present reputation was built in 2007, when it was acquired by Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, which also owns the Pierre in New York. Soft renovations brought the hotel up to the India-based luxury brand's high standards. Since then, the Campton Place Taj has won numerous accolades and gained a spot in the Leading Small Hotels of the World collection of properties. In the past two years, it's made Conde Nast Traveler's Gold List as one of the "World's Best Places to Stay."
Despite its stature, the hotel feels surprisingly casual. The sprightly doorman chats with you as he leads you to the small, gleaming lobby full of fresh-cut orchids and paintings by local artists. The lobby's lack of opulence belies the hotel's level of luxury, which includes an impressive array of services and premium in-room amenities such as 40-inch flat-screen TVs and Molton Brown toiletries. It's no wonder the hotel draws celebrities like Steve Martin and other well-heeled travelers who like the finer things sans pomp and circumstance.
If over-the-top flair is what you want, however, look to San Francisco's grand old dames -- like the nearby Westin St. Francis or the Fairmont San Francisco on Nob Hill.
Top-of-the-line service from a staff that anticipates guests' needs
Service is taken to new heights at the Campton Place Taj. Affable doormen and extremely knowledgeable restaurant servers are at your beck and call. From doing your laundry in an hour to whipping up dishes you crave in the middle of the night even if they're not on the menu to sewing on a button (or finding a matching one in their button box), the hotel provides service par excellence. For similar pampering, you'd have to head to the big players like the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco or even the Four Seasons.
- Friendly bell service
- Valets assist with packing and unpacking.
- Dedicated concierge available throughout the day; assists with business needs, including cell phone rentals
- A guest services book includes 26 pages of concierge recommendations for sites and restaurants.
- Guests can request extra room amenities including a humidifier and a milk bath.
- The hotel operates its own laundry and dry-cleaning service; laundry can be done within one hour (as opposed to overnight) and pressing is immediate (as opposed to the standard one-hour wait).
- 24-hour room service, with the option to order off-menu
- Twice-a-day maid service
- Turndown service every evening (no gifts, though)
- Valet parking is pricey; for self-parking, there's a lot on the corner of Sutter and Stockton.
The Campton Place Taj is one block northeast of Union Square, which is famous for its couture shops and not much else. Home to enormous outposts of Niketown, Saks, Tiffany, Macy's, Louis Vuitton, and Neiman Marcus, among others, Union Square is to San Francisco what Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive are to New York and L.A., respectively. Locals don't hang out here, but the square is great for people-watching, nonetheless, and occasionally plays host to various small festivals and demonstrations. Still, if shopping isn't a priority, you might prefer a neighborhood in the center of the biggest tourist attractions, like Fisherman's Wharf.
- The Mason/Powell cable car is a block and a half away; for $5, it can take you to Fisherman's Wharf in 20 minutes, or, with a transfer, to Lombard Street and Ghirardelli Square.
- Far from top tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, and Haight-Ashbury -- $10 to $20 by cab -- but then, so are the other neighborhoods with nonbudget accommodations.
- Discount day-of theater seats available at the Union Square ticket kiosk
- Plenty of dining nearby, but if you want to avoid high-end hotel dining and chain restaurants (Cheesecake Factory being the most visible), walk a few blocks away, where there's lots of small, locally owned restaurants.
- Il Cafe Rulli, on the eastern side of the square, charges a ridiculous amount for coffee and snacks, but you can't beat the setting on a sunny day.
- The nearest drugstore, Walgreens, is open 24 hours and is a half-block away, on the corner of Sutter and Stockton Streets.
- $40, 30-minute taxi from San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- While Union Square is a safe area, be careful of wandering into the neighboring, seedy Tenderloin district.
Average-size rooms with luxe amenities
Rooms have plush, pillow-top beds.
The rooms feel small (though they're not much smaller than average for San Francisco), but the understated decor -- low lighting and a cream color palette -- along with details like double-paned windows to keep out noise, provides a calming atmosphere. The cushioned window seat in many rooms is a nice touch. Nob Hill's luxe Huntington Hotel has larger standard rooms, but significantly fewer in-room amenities (not even a coffeemaker) -- though guests do get access to that hotel's award-winning spa.
- Standard rooms are small at 225 to 250 square feet. (By contrast, the Grand Hyatt across the street has 312-square-foot standard rooms.)
- Deluxe rooms are between 400 and 450 square feet, and worth the upgrade if you need two beds.
- Plush, pillow-top beds with 300-thread-count Frette linens, feather duvets, and goose-down pillows; retractable reading pinlight sits on the cushioned headboard.
- Leather-topped writing desk with an Internet cable and books about Taj hotels and boutique properties worldwide
- Cabinets have pear-wood paneling and frosted glass doors, with adjacent shelves that contain a mending kit, a hair dryer, a shoe brush, and cleaning cloth.
- Rooms come with a loveseat at the foot of the bed or a lovely window seat that's perfect for daytime reading; double-paned windows keep the traffic noise outside.
- 40-inch, flat-screen TV with pay-per-view movies and 80 channels, more than most hotels offer; BoseWave radio and CD player available, but you'll have to bring your own connector to plug in an iPod.
- In-room safe (not large enough for laptop)
- Wayport wired and wireless Internet is charged per day
- Minibar contains premium alcohol and assorted snacks.
- For a caffeine fix, pop a free espresso pod in the in-room Nespresso machine; if you prefer tea, there's an electric kettle and tea bags.
- A free newspaper is slipped under the door every morning; there's no extra charge for requesting The New York Times (many other hotels charge).
- The beige limestone bathroom has a walk-in shower, a soaking tub, and Molton Brown toiletries; some rooms have bathrooms with only a shower area.
- Super-soft, knitted cotton Ploh robe -- you'll be tempted to pay $225 to take it home; matching slippers also provided
The 9th-floor gym has partial view of Union Square.
Boutique hotels like this one have understandably limited features. The requisite business center is unexciting and the gym is limited, but its 9th-floor terrace location has a partial view of Union Square. The standout feature at this property, however, is the high-end, critically acclaimed Campton Place restaurant.
- Restaurant, with top-notch service and Mediterranean cuisine with Indian and French inflections, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- 24-hour fitness center has three exercise bikes, an elliptical, two treadmills, six strength training machines, free weights, and fitness balls.
- Free Internet at the 24-hour business center (or the "business chamber" as the fancy hotel calls it), has two PCs, a printer/copier, and a telephone.
- Four meeting rooms with more than 1,900 square feet
Deluxe rooms are a better bet for families.
Family-friendly features are limited, but they usually are in small hotels in a big city. The features the hotel does provide, however, it provides in a luxurious way. Even small details have a luxe twist. The children's menu, for instance, states that the hotel can cut off the sides of an apple to accompany a child's PB&J.
- Standard rooms are tiny, though ones with two double beds are available; spring for the deluxe room -- at 450 square feet, it's more spacious than two beds in the 250-square-foot standard.
- Suites have a pullout sofa.
- Free cribs; rollaway beds cost $30 per night, and can fit in most rooms
- A children's menu is available for in-room dining; if you (or your child) wants anything off-menu, the hotel will accommodate it.
- Concierge can arrange babysitting service.
Pets of any size welcome; cleaning fee per stay
Pets of any size are welcome at the hotel for a one-time fee, which covers the cleaning costs of bunking with your furry (or not) friend.
Not a stain in sight or a thread out of place
Twice-daily housekeeping ensures that everything is well tended. Rooms were updated in 2007, and are still clean and new; fresh cuts of orchids add a burst of freshness to the lobby.
Fine-dining at its best; room service accommodates off-the-menu orders
Campton Place offers excellent Cal-Med menu
The Campton Place restaurant is not just a hotel restaurant, it is its own institution with a distinguished reputation. Here you'll find fine dining with all its trappings: white tablecloth and leather booths, poised servers in suits, and a wine cellar containing over 1,500 vintages. A beautiful blown glass bouquet hangs in the middle of the room, aptly signifying the delicacy and exquisiteness of the restaurant's dishes.
The staff here is obviously a point of pride: Chef Srijith Gopinathan has worked in the kitchen of a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Oxford, England, and the Master Sommelier, Richard Dean, is one of only 150 people in the world to actively hold that title. Their leadership is top class; servers were extremely knowledgeable and attentive, without being snooty.
- Campton Place serves a fascinating mix of Mediterranean and Californian cuisine, with distinct French and Asian influences; open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Wine cellar has more than 1,500 labels; 40 options for wine by the glass alone.
- Meal begins with an amuse-bouche; surprising appetizers include a slow-roasted pork belly topped with cuttlefish and deep-fried okra.
- Adjoining lounge is open from 10:30 a.m. to midnight, with a limited food menu.
- 24-hour room service with extensive options
- For curry lovers, there's a full page in the room service menu dedicated to Indian curries; if you have a favorite not listed, just ask the chef, but be willing to wait while he procures the ingredients.
This luxurious, 110-room boutique one block from Union Square is an enclave of posh rooms and pampering service in a dense city. There aren't many features here -- just a gym and a small business center -- but its top-notch service and luxe room amenities make it one of the city's most special hotels.
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Things You Should Know About Campton Place Taj Hotel
- 340 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA, 94108, US
Hotel is Also (or Was Formerly) Known As
- Campton Place
- Campton Place Hotel
- Hotel Campton Place
- California Room
- Deluxe Room
- Executive Suite
- Luxury Suite
- The Campton Suite