Gracious service makes the towering, austere 802-room Hyatt Regency feel almost cozy. The rooms, while not new, are large and comfortable. And the location near the scenic Embarcadero and bustling commercial artery of Market Street is convenient for exploring the city. But this largely business hotel is light on amenities and in a dull part of town at night.
The gargantuan Hyatt Regency boasts a warm, accessible staff and big rooms, but amenities are hit or miss, especially for business travelers.
A towering, accordion-shaped structure built in 1972, the 802-room Hyatt Regency is an imposing, if slightly dated, study in contemporary design. The dimly lit 17-story atrium -- the largest in the world, according to the hotel -- resembles a concrete honeycomb buzzing with both laptop-strapped guests and groups of tourists. A spherical metal sculpture and a bank of glass elevators contribute to the "modern" (by 1970s standards) look.
Despite its grandiose proportions, only a small corner of the atrium-cum-lobby is in full use -- the section that houses the front desk and the small, recently renovated restaurant and bar, Eclipse. The rest of the cavernous, echoey space is largely uninhabited.
Standard rooms are big by San Francisco standards, and they're well maintained even though they haven't been fully renovated in a dozen years. (The plush modern furniture and wonderfully comfortable Hyatt Grand beds have all been replaced in the last four years.) Due to its location in the Financial District, reasonable rates, and glut of meeting space, the Hyatt attracts a largely corporate clientele. And yet the hotel doesn't seem to offer the sorts of extras that would win over such guests. Free Wi-Fi isn't available anywhere but in the penthouse Regency Club, accessible only to guests who book premium rooms. The 24-hour business center offers a fairly extensive array of services, but web access is charged per minute. For late-night dining, guests need to wander. Eclipse stops serving dinner early. At the bar, where the scene is less afterwork crowd than fatigued hotel guests, last call is around midnight. Restaurant options in the immediate area are mostly of the chain variety, and nightlife is minimal.
For slightly more money, Le Meridien four blocks away offers more modern rooms and a more happening restaurant. Rooms at the Marriott in nearby SoMa are comparable to the Hyatt Regency's, but that hotel has more amenities and room rates can be lower.
The staff takes pains to make this huge hotel seem small and warm.
Services are standard for a large mid-tier chain, but the staff usually takes great care to provide friendly, personal service. Nearly every person -- from the uniformed valets to the front desk personnel to the porter and the maid -- are genuinely cordial. Room service was prompt.
Room service available throughout the day
Concierge available throughout the day; 24-hour automated iConcierge in the lobby available after-hours or during rush (essentially an on-screen list of recommended restaurants and attractions).
Spacious, with cushy beds -- but not all rooms have the hotel's touted scenic views.
The Deluxe Double Room, which at 385 square feet is bigger than your average standard San Francisco room, feels spacious and bright. The decor is modern (yet generic), with plush carpet, upholstered headboards and neutral tones. Some pieces of furniture are showing some signs of wear, with a few scuffs, streaks and dents, but the rooms aren't in bad shape considering that management says the last renovation was more than a decade ago.
Floor-to-ceiling windows slide open onto a faux balcony (no actual room to stand, just a cement balustrade). The hotel's upper floors have killer views of the bay, but in a "city view" room the unspectacular view is of the stores below. Some standard rooms have partial bay views, but you can't be sure to get one. To guarantee a scenic vista rather than a bird's eye view of a 7-Eleven, Taco Bell, and Starbucks, book a Regency Club room, which can add a decent chunk of change to your bill per night.
The basic amenities may disappoint the hotel's many business travelers.
The usual menu of amenities for a city hotel, but business travelers, the hotel's bread and butter during the week, may be disappointed by the lack of late-night dining options, a more comprehensive business center, and free in-room Wi-Fi.
Free 24-hour fitness center with up-to-date machines, renovated in 2012.
Guests angling for a low-impact workout can request a yoga mat from housekeeping and watch an on-demand yoga session in the room; charged per 45-minute session.
Concierge can book in-room massages from off-site facility for a fee.
Daily fee for in-room Wi-Fi.
Business center, accessible 24 hours with a room key, has three PC work stations, a black-and-white and color printer, and a Xerox machine.
Meeting space includes 34 meeting rooms, a huge exhibit hall, and a grand ballroom.
Top-floor Regency Club (available only to guests staying in more expensive Regency Club rooms) has unobstructed 360-degree views of the bay, work stations with free Wi-Fi, a "Zen Den" with massage chairs, an honor bar, and a daily cocktail and hors d'oeuvre reception, plus all-inclusive breakfast buffet.
Rooms and hallways are nearly spotless, but the lobby could do with a bit more elbow grease.
Rooms are clean, though slightly worn in places: Scuffs and scratches on the wood furniture and small dents in the walls of rooms are visible, and the old faucet in the bathroom sink may sputter when turned on.
Hallways are immaculate, with nary a room service tray in sight -- though it would be hard to spot any grit given how dimly lit the the corridors are. The lobby is slightly less spic and span, probably due to the high volume of traffic in and out.
Uninspired but palatable cuisine at Eclipse restaurant; the breakfast buffet is a good value
Dishes at the lobby restaurant Eclipse run the gamut from Asian to Mexican to pizza, with an emphasis on local seafood; surprisingly few vegetarian options .
Like most Bay Area restaurants of a certain ilk, Eclipse claims to use local produce and meats "whenever possible." This is slightly suspect given that, according to waiters, the menu doesn't change seasonally,