Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Nob Hill, San Francisco, California

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Wi-Fi is an additional fee; high-speed Internet is more expensive than basic
  • Restaurant only serves breakfast and lunch

Bottom Line

One of the city's grandest dames, the Mark Hopkins sits regally on top of Nob Hill with dazzling views and the famous 19th-floor Top of the Mark bar. Though its elegant style and grand past earn cachet, in substance, this hotel is less impressive (and usually less expensive) than its Nob Hill neighbors: Rooms are dated, and the on-site restaurant doesn't serve dinner.

Oyster Awards

We investigate in person.
Like your mother-in-law.

Categories

, , ,

Oyster Hotel Photos

Customers Who Viewed Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco Also Viewed

Omni San Francisco Hotel
25% viewed
Omni San Francisco Hotel
Financial District, San Francisco
The Fairmont San Francisco
13% viewed
The Fairmont San Francisco
Nob Hill, San Francisco
Le Meridien San Francisco
13% viewed
Le Meridien San Francisco
Financial District, San Francisco

Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Esteemed, historic hotel, but no longer the luxury property it once was

The hotel has dazzling views
The hotel has dazzling views

The Art Deco InterContinental Mark Hopkins is planted diagonally atop Nob Hill, the architectural equivalent of an offensive linemen towering over the field of San Francisco since 1926. Its stately entrance and lobby, formal doormen, and famous Top of the Mark bar (you guessed it -- on the top of the hotel) give it an elegant, if old-fashioned, feel. Yet, despite its clout as one of the city's oldest and most famous hotels, the Mark Hopkins is no longer the luxury property it once was: It belongs more in the upper-midrange category, and guests will be happier with their stay if they adjust their expecations accordingly. Rooms are comfortable, if a bit bland, service is formal, but not of the luxury caliber it may appear to be, and features are surprisingly basic beyond the famous bar. The ritzy, well-known bar still holds status as a San Francisco landmark -- it may even have the city's best view over a martini glass -- but it's open to nonguests as well, so you don't actually have to stay here to experience it.

The hotel sits on the site of a mansion, built in 1878 and owned by one of the founders of Central Pacific Railroad, Mark Hopkins. The mansion burned down in the fire following San Francisco's 1906 earthquake, and the hotel that took its place was eventually a meeting spot for Pacific-bound servicemen during World War II, appeared in several films (Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Steve McQueen's Bullitt), and became a California Historical Landmark in 1961.

Though it's hard to match the Mark Hopkins for its prestige and past, in many important aspects -- rooms, service, features -- it The Mark Hopkins is often significantly less expensive than, say, the Ritz-Carlton (which offers more amenities) and the Fairmont (which has better rooms). If the price difference is big enough, it can be worth considering for its Nob Hill address.

 Service

Formal and professional

The concierge
The concierge

The formal service seems as presidential as the hotel looks, but it's not at the level you'd find at a luxury property: The concierge desk is theoretically open for extensive hours, but on many days it's actually shorter, and turndown service must be requested. Twenty-four hour room service, however, is available.

  • Dedicated concierge desk available daily
  • 24-hour room service
  • House car is available in the mornings and evenings to take guests within a mile-radius of the hotel -- but this service isn't well advertised to guests
  • Turndown service only on request
  • No daily newspaper delivery, just stack of The New York Times near the elevators in the mornings

 Location

On top of the hill, in Nob Hill, one of the city's ritziest neighborhoods

The Mark Hopkins sits regally at the top of Nob Hill -- both the actual hill and the neighborhood -- its imposing figure towering over the city. The upside for guests: awesome views, even from street level, though the best are in the 19th-story Top of the Mark. The downside? If you're walking, the way to and from the Fairmont is a thigh-burning, knee-jarring hike, no matter which direction you're coming from.

The area, Nob Hill, is jokingly referred to by locals as "Snob Hill," and that tells you quite a bit about the neighborhood. It's primarily residential -- rich locals -- with a few luxury hotels mixed in for rich visitors (the Fairmont, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Huntington are among its distinguished neighbors). Locals don't really hang out here, however; you'll need to head downhill to North Beach or the Marina, or over to Russian Hill or Pacific Heights, to find the best local restaurants, bars, and shops.

  • Fisherman's Wharf is down the hill, less than a mile away (take the cable car back up!).
  • The famous curvy block of Lombard Street is less than half a mile away.
  • Chinatown, the largest one outside Asia, with restaurants, herbal shops, and cultural attractions, is right down the street.
  • Far from the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, and Haight-Ashbury but then, so are the other neighborhoods with major hotels
  • All cable car lines stop right behind hotel.
  • 30-minute taxi from San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Safe neighborhood (though vagrancy and panhandling are common, as throughout the city)

 Rooms

Comfortable and quiet, if not luxurious

A Deluxe Room
A Deluxe Room

The rooms indisputably comfortable, with super luxurious beds and plenty of space for the price (standard rooms start at around 350 square feet). In 2011, the hotel upgraded its technology, introducing flat-screen TVs, iHome docks, and Keurig coffeemakers. Most bathrooms are cramped, and some might find the decor a bit boring. Wi-Fi isn't free (charged according to connection speeds), and the minibar lacks gourmet options and elegant presentation. At least the unique position of this building affords astounding views from most rooms.

  • Standard rooms are just over 300 square feet, and all rooms are under 400 (this is average for San Francisco hotels; small for its luxury hotels); suites range from 550 to 1,650 square feet.
  • Super-comfortable beds with pillow-top mattresses, Frette linens, and down comforters
  • Small bathrooms with combined bathtub/shower units that are unimpressive compared to other luxury hotels, though they have Elemis toiletries and Frette bathrobes
  • Extra fee for Wi-Fi and the cost varies, according to a complex price structure based on connection speed
  • Flat-screen TVs and iHome docks in all rooms
  • Keurig coffeemakers
  • Minibars have a normal mix of beverages, alcohol nibs, mixers, and snacks, but nothing special.
  • Views from rooms are generally great, thanks to the hotel's position on top of Nob Hill.
  • Turndown service is only upon request.

 Features

The famous Top of the Mark bar is the highlight

The business center
The business center

A beautiful lobby and the famous Top of the Mark bar are the most exciting features of the hotel. In addition, a staffed business center and small fitness center are below the lobby on the hotel's basement level, and the hotel boasts the "Room of the Dons" and "Peacock Court" -- a meeting room with famous wall murals painted for the hotel in 1926.

  • 24-hour business center, attended during the day; otherwise accessible by room key
  • 24-hour fitness center
  • Extra fee for Wi-Fi and the cost varies according to a complex price structure based on connection speed
  • Club InterContinental Lounge open to guests who pay an extra fee for access; it includes lounge space, free coffee and tea throughout the day, and a small continental breakfast each morning.
  • House car is available in the mornings and evenings to take guests within a "reasonable distance" of the hotel -- but this service isn't well advertised to guests.
  • "Room of the Dons" and "Peacock Court" meeting room contain original murals painted for the hotel's opening in 1926.

 Entertainment

Elegant Top of the Mark overlooks the city from the 19th floor.

Top of the Mark bar
Top of the Mark bar

Top of the Mark bar is one of the hotel's best-known features. There are dazzling, nearly 360-degree views of the city from 19 floors up (and the top of Nob Hill is one of San Francisco's best spots to look down on the rest of the city). It also impresses with evening jazz performances and a menu offering a hundred martinis. Compared to its equally famous neighbor, the Fairmont's flamboyant Tonga Room, the Top of the Mark strikes a sedate tone, though it's livelier on weekends. Events like wedding receptions and parties occasionally give it a more raucous vibe.

  • "100 Martinis" menu features the hotel's hallmark specialty martinis
  • Tuesday to Saturday evening jazz performances by various artists (schedule and cover charge info here)
  • Holds a well-regarded Sunday brunch with live jazz

 Family

Few family services; rooms are small

The breakfast buffet is discounted for kids
The breakfast buffet is discounted for kids

Although families would do fine staying here, at this price you can get more for kids elsewhere. The Fairmont and Ritz-Carlton both offer better kids' amenities, like special gifts on arrival, and their rooms are larger, so you're not obligated to spend extra on an upgrade just to fit the family in.

  • Small standard rooms not ideal
  • Kids' menu available for room service; discounted kids' breakfast buffet price
  • Charge per stay for rollaways (they can only fit in standard rooms that have single beds; not double); cribs are free
  • Rooms and suites have minibars but no kitchens.

 Cleanliness

Very clean

Though old, the hotel is perfectly clean throughout thanks to thorough, daily housekeeping.

 Food

Top of the Mark is the highlight, with stunning views

Shrimp cocktails at Top of the Mark
Shrimp cocktails at Top of the Mark

During the time of this review, the hotel restaurant was closed but has since reopened. The Top of the Mark serves a daily breakfast buffet, lunch, and small bites/appetizers at night. Room service features breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Extensive, good quality breakfast buffet served at the Top of the Mark for a high price
  • Room service is available 24 hours; fairly traditional American menu
  • Few dining options in the immediate area

 Bottom Line

One of the city's grandest dames, the Mark Hopkins sits regally on top of Nob Hill with dazzling views and the famous 19th-floor Top of the Mark bar. Though its elegant style and grand past earn cachet, in substance, this hotel is less impressive (and usually less expensive) than its Nob Hill neighbors: Rooms are dated, and the on-site restaurant doesn't serve dinner.

Things You Should Know About Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

Address

  • One Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Intercontinental San Francisco
  • San Francisco Intercontinental

Room Types

  • Business Room
  • Club Floor Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Deluxe Terrace Suite
  • Executive Room
  • Junior Suite
  • Luxury Suite
  • One Bedroom Suite
  • Penthouse Suite
  • Standard Room
  • Terrace Suite
  • View Room
  • Whirlpool Suite

Enter dates for best prices

Check-in
Check-out
Guests
 AVG/NIGHT 
Hotels.com  
Expedia.com  
Tingo.com  
Booking.com  
Travelocity  
Otel.com  
Priceline.com  
CheapTickets.com  

All About Oyster

You Can't Return a Bad Vacation.

Our special investigators visit, photograph, review and rate each hotel. We uncover the truth, before it's "uh-oh" time.

Go undercover with an Oyster Investigator The Today Show
Go Undercover with an Oyster Investigator
See 56 Videos of Oyster on TV

Nearby Hotels to Consider

The Fairmont San Francisco
The Fairmont San Francisco
Nob Hill, San Francisco
Rating: 45 Pearls

Distance: Less than 0.1 mi
Stanford Court San Francisco
Stanford Court San Francisco
Nob Hill, San Francisco
Rating: 40 Pearls

Distance: 0.1 mi
The Huntington Hotel
The Huntington Hotel
Nob Hill, San Francisco
Rating: 40 Pearls

Distance: 0.1 mi
Cornell Hotel de France
Cornell Hotel de France
Nob Hill, San Francisco
Rating: 30 Pearls

Distance: 0.1 mi

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 380
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
View All

Hotel Information

Location: Nob Hill, San Francisco
Address: One Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108
(See Map)
Loading Live Rates
Loading...