Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Opened in 2001, the Four Seasons San Francisco evokes oohs and aahs for its unusual real estate and beautiful rooms, even landing it on the Conde Nast Gold List of places to stay multiple years in a row. It sits on the 5th to 17th floors of a SoMa skyscraper, its elevators acting as discreet portals leading from busy downtown Market Street to an urban oasis. Its comfortable, well-furnished rooms, complete with marble bathrooms and 42-inch, flat-screen TVs, are among the city's best, and service meets gold standards with a 24-hour concierge and twice-daily housekeeping. But in features, the Four Seasons is, frankly, at the bottom of its class: Guests have access to the Sports Club/LA and its pool and spa in the same building, but it's owned and operated separately from the hotel, so it lacks the Four Seasons' level of service and décor.
The Four Seasons brand signals the epitome of luxury, and the rooms here are undoubtedly some of the best in the city, but on the whole, it's hard to recommend staying here when you can do much better. The Mandarin Oriental packs a bigger punch when it comes to views, with excellent rooms on the top floors of the city's third tallest building. And the service at the St. Regis -- which includes 24-hour butlers -- beats both the Mandarin and the Four Seasons.
Formal service, but no fireworks
The Four Seasons boasts professional, attentive service from front door to restaurant, with a 24-hour concierge, room service, automatic turndown, and bellmen waiting at the hotel's two entrances to escort guests to the 5th-floor lobby. You can't fault it. But if we get down to brass tacks -- and at this price level, we should -- the Four Seasons doesn't extend itself to impress guests the way you'd expect. Its competitors, for instance, offer extras like 24-hour butlers and afternoon tea service, and have on-site spa and fitness services, rather than outsourcing it to a local operator as the Four Seasons does.
In Central SoMa, close to convention centers and museums
Though its website boasts a location in the "Yerba Buena cultural district," this is really SoMa, and the hotel is located right on Market Street, a busy artery that cuts through downtown. It's close to several of the city's best museums, including SFMOMA and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, but it's a business-heavy neighborhood that's right next to the Financial District, Union Square, and the Moscone Center, making it best for business travelers. It's convenient to museums, Union Square, and the Embarcadero, but on the other hand, it's far from several landmark tourist attractions.
Among the city's biggest and best-furnished rooms
It's hard to fault the Four Seasons' 277 rooms and suites, which are among the city's best for size, amenities, and pristine condition. Even the hotel's most basic Deluxe Rooms start at a hefty 460 square feet, with impressive marble bathrooms, separate deep tubs, huge flat-screen TVs, and plush beds. To complain about the rooms would be to nitpick, but there are hotels that go further to impress us with their digs: The Mandarin Oriental's rooms offer better city views since they're higher up (and all rooms have impressive views, where only some of the Four Seasons' do), and the St. Regis pulls off its modern decor much more successfully. The Four Seasons' rooms have oddly retro-modern updates like metallic fabric headboards and geometric patterns that are a disappointing departure from a simpler, traditional style.
Enough features, although some are outsourced
If you're not interested in pumping iron and/or printing out faxes at the business center, there's not much more to do here. A 24-hour business center provides nearly every business service imaginable, and gym rats have direct access to the Sports Club/LA on the building's 4th floor, but features aren't at the forefront of this hotel.
Good for families
Huge, quiet rooms are ideal for families, and the central, relatively flat location makes getting around with kids easy. The hotel makes a good effort to accommodate kids, offering kids' menus, free cribs and rollaways, and little extras like milk and cookies on arrival. Overall, however, this is a business-focused hotel.
Feels brand new and spotless
This Four Seasons opened in 2001, but it's so well maintained, it feels like they just peeled the plastic off the furniture. You could hardly make a mess even if you wanted to, given the efficient, twice-daily housekeeping that arranges guests' toiletries neatly on the bathroom counter.
A steakhouse with beautiful views
The Four Seasons' huge, well-outfitted rooms and attentive service are among the city's best, but the 277-room property falls a bit short of expectations. Its pool and fitness center are outsourced, and its business-centric SoMa location lacks the prestige of Nob Hill, where some if its strongest competitors reside.