Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Light, hip touches abound throughout the hotel, but beneath it all is a socially conscious theme that, unlikely as it sounds, affects your stay in interesting and enjoyable ways.
The Good might be mistaken, on a first glance at the lobby, for an unusually clean and cheerful youth hostel, an impression aided by its popularity among European tourists and rock bands in town to play local venues. A step through the hotel's decidedly low-key entrance -- a single glass door on a side street -- is a reasonably priced leap into an atmosphere of brightly colored whimsy and irreverence. The lobby features a photo booth, and an entire wall is plastered with photos of past guests, like a yearbook's worth of goofy outtakes. Hung behind the front desk and throughout the hotel are a collection of cuckoo clocks (purely decorative, blessedly cuckoo-less) indicating the time of day in such outposts as Hope Point, Greenland and Wink, Texas, (Roy Orbison's boyhood home). This is the Good's way of poking fun at the sort of self-important hotel that thinks its guests care what time it is in London, Lisbon, and Beijing. The lobby soundrack is permanently tuned to the 1970s.
Beneath the tongue-in-cheek sheen, however, lie some serious good intentions. Joie de Vivre, the management company, donates at least $200 per guest room per year to community organizations. The Good champions conservation, environmental consciousness, and community service, themes that extend from the hotel's decor to the guests' experience: The lobby's coffee table is made out of an old skateboard; bicycles for guest use are parked near the front desk; a vending machine dispenses, among other items, wallets made from old FedEx containers.
The hotel's history is fitting; basically, the Good is made from recycled hotels. In 2008, Joie de Vivre merged the two adjacent properties. The five-story main building contains 79 rooms; the 38 Courtyard Rooms -- "courtyard" being the parking lot -- occupy a former motor lodge with exterior corridors.
All the rooms are large and brightly furnished in a style the New York Times has accurately described as "IKEA gone eco." Up-to-date electronics -- like the wall-mounted Philips flat-screen TV and alarm clock with iPod dock -- and comfortable beds topped with throw pillows made from recycled comforters place the Good in a quality category that far exceeds expectations based on its price. The on-site amenities and services are minimal, but the hotel makes a good effort to give guests access to the things it lacks: a heated outdoor pool and fitness center just across the street, a spa three blocks away (for a fee). Lack of off-site dining options is the real drawback.
The Good is, quite simply, a very good deal for those who don't mind venturing a bit off the beaten path. For spacious, comfortable rooms uniquely and memorably decorated, the Good is one of the best values in San Francisco.
Nothing special; the youthful staff is laid back, and informal
Since the public space at the Good is basically limited to its lobby, the front desk attendant is the only visible staff member. The manner is politely informal, more conversational than deferential (don't expect to be called "sir" or "madam"). Whether someone helps you with your luggage seems to depend on whether the front desk employee feels like asking and how many other people are checking in at the same time.
A largely residential but underdeveloped section of San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood
The Good is one of three Joie de Vivre hotels on a safe but unimpressive stretch of SoMa, near Mission Avenue. A neighborhood in transition, it's a mix of civic buildings, rising luxury condos, and vacant, graffiti-covered lots. The immediately surrounding blocks are mostly residential but peppered with community centers, takeout restaurants, and art galleries; courthouses and civic buildings lie directly to the north. Market Street's retail district, including the boutiques and department stores at Westfield San Francisco Centre, are a 10- to 15-minute walk from the hotel.
So many hotel rooms are exactly the same; the Good's rooms are like none Oyster had ever seen in before. The large spaces are furnished with bright modern furniture accurately described by the New York Times as "IKEA gone eco." And instead of generic, forgettable art on the walls, each one features a mural depicting a local San Francisco scene, like taquerias lining Mission Street. The conservation theme means not much is new here, but that's intentional, and not a bad thing. Many mundane items have been reincarnated as eco-friendly fixtures: headboards made from reclaimed wood, the hanging lamps in suites made of recycled Voss glass water bottles, and throw pillows made from the previous hotels' comforters. Crucially, quality isn't sacrificed for the sake of these gimmicks; in fact, the combination of comfort and quirkiness are exactly what make the Good worth staying at. Generosity of spirit touches almost every aspect of the hotel: a shelf at the foot of the bed had two used books for the taking and an invitation to leave behind other used books for future guests. And while most hotels with comparable rates have outdated electronics, the Good boasts 26-inch wall-mounted Philips flat-screen TVs and Timex alarm clocks with iPod docks.
In spite of the hotel's many perks, the Good is definitely not a luxury hotel. Courtyard rooms have exterior corridors, and those on the ground floor pick up street noise. Fortunately, the ruckus ceases at night. Still, light sleepers may want to request a room in the main building.
Given the conservation theme, the Good's bathrooms are something of a showcase. The standout feature is the toilet-top sink. Each flush prompts a stream of clean water from the toilet-top faucet, which flows for a full minute and drains into the bowl to be used for the next flush. The shower contains a wall-mounted dispenser of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
The Good's features live up to its name, and the hotel provides free or discounted access to amenities it lacks.
As with many Joie de Vivre hotels, the Good doesn't have many on-site amenities but gives guests access to nearby places that do. Visitors get free access to a decent fitness center and impressive, heated rooftop pool just across the street at the Best Western Americania, and the hotel offers discounts to Reiki Moonlighting, a spa three blocks away that charges for an hour of full body treatment. Massage therapists can meet guests in the lobby and escort them to the spa. Alternatively, in-room treatment is available for a fee.
The Good's rooms are fun and accomodating, but the surrounding neighborhood isn't ideal for kids.
All rooms, and especially family suites, are large enough to accomodate families. Still, the lack of an on-site pool may be a drawback, and the grittier, artsy surroundings will likely hold more appeal to those without kids in tow.
Almost totally clean
Except for some grime, rooms are totally clean.
Situated on a somewhat desolate stretch of the artsy SoMa neighborhood, the Good Hotel earns its moniker, "hotel with a conscience." With features like a water-conserving toilet-top sink, the Good is environmentally friendly, charmingly quirky, and -- for those who don't mind venturing a bit off the beaten path -- one of the best budget hotels in the city.