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Hotel Rex 3.5

Union Square, San Francisco, California

Review Summary

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  • Rooms facing the courtyard are dark.
  • No on-site gym; daily fee to use one across the street

Bottom Line

This 94-room Union Square boutique, themed after 1920s and '30s literary salons, is a bit quirky, with fairly hands-off service and few amenities. But the tiny quarters are nicely furnished with up-to-date amenities, there's a daily wine hour in the reading-room-style lobby bar, and an on-site bistro offers up well-priced Californian fare.

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A 94-room boutique with minimal amenities and service, this property from the Joie de Vivre group of hotels has unique literary-themed decor and surpisingly up-to-date, if small, rooms.

Literary themed lobby features retro reading tables

Themed after literary and artistic salons of the 1920s and '30s, Hotel Rex feels in many ways like a bookstore/hotel mash-up. Its lobby is lined with shelves of antique books, retro reading desks, and armchairs fit for an afternoon of poring over the classics; hallways are inscribed with California- and travel-related literary quotes; and the small business center has antique typewriters. In every way true to the affordable and quirky Joie de Vivre boutique brand, it has mostly hands-off, though friendly, service and not much in the way of extras.

If all the historic literary references seem a bit much, not to worry: Rooms are surprisingly modern. Wall-mounted, 36-inch flat-panel TVs and iPod dock alarm clock/radios are impressively up-to-date, and pillow-top beds are plush and comfortable. It's too bad the rooms are small, and those that face the tiny courtyard are dark and feel even more cramped.

Luckily, there's a great lobby bar and restaurant downstairs with a free nightly wine hour. The reasonably priced Library Bar serves Californian fare for breakfast and dinner in a tiny, charming dining room. With the look of a reading room, the bar feels like it's in a different era, and appropriately enough offers a signature menu of "Writers Vice" cocktails.

Though the price and location make the Hotel Rex a decent value, if it's less of a themey scene and larger rooms that you want, the nearby boutique Donatello offers a similar location and amenities, with larger suite-style rooms at better prices.


Two blocks from the commercial hub of Union Square

Map of Hotel Rex

Hotel Rex sits two blocks northwest of Union Square, which is famous for its couture shops but 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 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. Still, if conspicuous consumption isn't a priority, you might prefer a neighborhood closer to the city's biggest attractions, like Nob Hill or Fisherman's Wharf.

  • Five blocks from the two Powell cable-car lines, which can take you to Lombard Street and Ghirardelli Square or to Fisherman's Wharf near Pier 39
  • Far from the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, and Haight-Ashbury
  • Discount day-of theater seats available at the Union Square ticket kiosk
  • Plenty of dining nearby, though the area isn't really known for its epicurean flare (Cheesecake Factory is the most visible restaurant around)
  • Il Cafe Rulli, on the other side of the square, charges ridiculous amounts for its coffee and snacks, but you can't beat the setting on a sunny day.
  • 30-minute taxi from San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

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Things You Should Know About Hotel Rex


562 Sutter St, San Francisco, California 94102, United States

Also Known As

  • Hotel Rex San Francisco
  • Rex Hotel San Francisco
  • Rex San Francisco

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • Executive Room
  • One Bedroom Suite

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