Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A fun and contemporary boutique hotel in downtown San Francisco
Hotel Monaco is a stylish, eclectic boutique hotel in the heart of San Francisco's Theater District. Originally built in 1910, the building was taken over and transformed completely by Kimpton in 1995; rooms got another complete overhaul in 2013. The lobby and Grand Café restaurant, two of the most beautiful aspects of the hotel, have Art Nouveau and Art Deco touches such as opulent wall murals and paintings, high ceilings, and grand ornate staircases. The lobby's lavish furnishings and cozy fireplaces -- not to mention free coffee and tea in the morning, and wine reception in the evening -- give it a great ambience and make it a popular place for guests to lounge.
The hotel offers all of the thoughtful freebies guests have come to associate with the Kimpton chain: a free evening wine hour; free Wi-Fi (if you join the hotel's free loyalty program); and no extra fees for dogs of any size.
Centrally located near Union Square
Hotel Monaco sits two blocks west of Union Square, which is famous for its high-end retail shops and not much else. Home to enormous outposts of Saks, Tiffany, Macy's, Louis Vuitton, and Neiman Marcus, among others, Union Square is to San Francisco what 5th Avenue is to New York and Rodeo Drive is to L.A. Locals don't hang out here, but the square is great for people-watching nonetheless, and it occasionally plays host to small festivals and demonstrations. The hotel's location is also centered in the lively Theater District, and eight theaters are located within six blocks of the hotel.
Stylish and quirky rooms are on the small side.
Most rooms are on the small side, at around 200 to 250 square feet, but exceedingly stylish, with bright colors and vibrant patterns. They were all completely renovated in 2013, and guests may feel like they are staying in the eclectic bedroom of an avid traveler who decorated with pieces acquired around the world. International influences are felt everywhere, from the white, wrought iron headboards look like they could belong in a European guesthouse, to the silk pillows with Asian prints, to the Indian block print curtains, to the nightstands that resemble inlaid Moroccan antiques. The overall effect is bold and whimsical, and even the graphic striped wallpaper doesn't overwhelm. Attractive bathrooms have patterned black-and-white wallpaper, shower/tub combos, and high-end C.O. Bigelow toiletries.
A modern fitness center and free use of the spa's coed facilities
Though the Hotel Monaco's basement-level fitness center is small, it has modern machines, including Precor treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, an adaptive motion trainer, and an FTS glide. A full selection of free weights, yoga mats, balance balls and accessories are also provided.
The hotel offers multiple attractive freebies. Room keys give guests free access to the coed steam room, whirlpool, and sauna in the hotel's small spa; a free nightly wine hour is held in the hotel's grand lobby; and free coffee and tea are available every morning in the lounge.
Grand Cafe Brasserie and Bar serves California-influenced French cuisine and has an excellent happy hour. There are also pre-theater menus, no surprise given the hotel's Theater District location.
Any pet under 200 pounds welcome; free
This stylish boutique hotel is one of the best upscale options near Union Square. It's not the cheapest option in this pearl category (the nearby Clift and Hotel Nikko often have lower rates), but many guests will prefer it for its fun, eclectic decor and thoughtful freebies. The rooms are on the small side but have comfortable beds, quirky-yet-elegant style, and modern technology. The lobby and "living room" are great places to hang out, especially for the free wine receptions and morning coffee.