InterContinental - San Francisco Rating: 4.5 Pearls
SoMa, San Francisco, California

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Pros

Cons

  • Daily fee for Wi-Fi
  • Expensive per night fee for valet parking; no self-parking
  • Lap pool isn't ideal for kids.

Bottom Line

Built in 2008 near the Moscone Convention Center in the business-oriented neighborhood of SoMa, the modern, 550-room InterContinental's luxury-level service, high-tech guest rooms, lap pool, well-reviewed spa, and Michelin-star restaurant make it one of the best values in San Francisco. But it's worth it to also check rates at the comparable W San Francisco.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Though it's next door to the convention center and largely geared toward business travelers, the InterContinental is also an excellent choice for vacationers looking for top-notch service, well-designed rooms, sumptuous bathrooms, and quality features at very competitive rates.

Higher floors offer stunning views.
Higher floors offer stunning views.

A gleaming, 32-story, 550-room, aquamarine tower, the InterContinental first opened on February 28, 2008; It still looks new. Inside, the cool colors, ornate grappa-centric bar, and an esteemed restaurant make it feel considerably sleeker and more modern than other, more historic InterContinentals around the country, such as the Barclay in New York City or the Willard in Washington D.C.

Due to its location near the Moscone West Convention Center, on a somewhat dreary stretch of Howard Street in SoMa, the hotel sees mostly business travlers, though just about anyone will find plenty to like about the hotel. The relatively spacious guest rooms include all the high-end comforts, such as Wi-Fi, cordless phones, iPod docks, big 42-inch flat-panel TVs with HD channels, and especially large marble bathrooms with separate tubs and standup showers (with two heads, no less). Plus, the higher floors offer stunning views of the San Francisco Bay or the city skyline and sell for a premium, naturally. Features outside the room are as impressive as the views. The 6th floor holds a lap pool, hot tub, a modern fitness center, and a highly praised 10-room spa. And the Michelin-star restaurant, Luce, just saw its chef, Dominique Crenn, appear on the Food Network's The Next Iron Chef.

In many respects, the InterContinental San Francisco looks and feels much more like the flashy W San Francisco (a five-minute walk away) than a stately business hotel its brand is better known for. In fact, the location, the quality of the rooms, the level of service, and the on-site features are about the same at both hotels. The only real difference between the InterContinental and the W lies in the W's more bumping nightlife scene. Of course, a party in the lobby can be seen as both an asset and a detriment -- it all depends on what time you plan to wake up the next morning.

 Service

Luxury-level service throughout

Free newspapers are available daily.
Free newspapers are available daily.

Service at the InterContinental shines, particularly for the price. You won't find the 24-hour butler service on offer at the nearby (and much more expensive) St. Regis, but conceriges and the front desk staff remember guests by name and the bell staff and doormen are always at the ready.

  • 24-hour room service
  • Many of the hotel's concierges are members of the prestigious Clefs d'Or, an international concierge organization.
  • An attendant at the business center (staffed throughout the day) can help with business needs like faxes and copies.
  • Free car service within two miles of the hotel, available Monday through Friday, in the mornings and evenings.
  • Free newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, are available daily in the lobby or they can be delivered to your room.
  • Valet service is expensive, but includes in-and-out privileges.

 Location

Next to the Moscone Convention Center in SoMa, about a 10-minute walk from shopping in Union Square and a long hike from kid-friendly Fisherman's Wharf

The neighboring blocks around the InterContinental were, until recently, populated with derelict buildings. Recent years have seen a profusion of new high-rise condos and corporate offices in the neighborhood. During the day, the streets are populated (though still sparsely) with tourists, students from the nearby Academy of Arts University, and locals who work neaby; at night and on the weekends, it's a ghost town. It is, however, close to Yerba Buena Gardens, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and other downtown attractions. Thirsty revelers willing to hoof it 10 or 15 minutes will find a suitable array of nightlife options -- including the rock bar New Wave City and gallery-cum-club 111 Minna.

  • Two blocks from the main thoroughfare of Market Street, where you'll find plenty of shopping and MUNI streetcar lines
  • Adjacent to Moscone Convention Center
  • One block from Yerba Buena Gardens and Performing Arts Center
  • Two blocks from the San Francisco MoMA
  • Short walk to Contemporary Jewish Museum and Museum of the African Diaspora
  • No cable cars run through SoMa; to catch one at the closest stop -- the terminus of the Powell line -- requires a five-minute walk to Market Street.
  • 10-minute walk to high-end shopping in Union Square
  • Two miles to kid-friendly tourist attractions at Fisherman's Wharf
  • One mile to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants
  • Four miles to Golden Gate Park
  • About a 40-minute taxi to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), depending on traffic

 Rooms

Up-to-date electronics, comfortable and contemporary design, and sumptuous marble bathrooms make these some of the nicest rooms in San Francisco (especially for the price).

A Standard Room
A Standard Room

At 330 square feet, the standard rooms at the InterContinental aren't much bigger than the average hotel room in San Francisco, but their contemporary design, high-end electronics, and spacious bathrooms make them a good buy, particularly when rates are lower than they are at the nearby W.

  • Very comfortable beds: four down pillows; a thick down comforter and duvet cover
  • Large, 42-inch flat-panel LG TV with HD channels and pay-per-view
  • Alarm clock with an iPod dock
  • Spacious work desk with a touch-screen corded phone and extra outlets; cordless phone on the bedside table
  • Daily fee for Wi-Fi, discounted if bought in three day packages.
  • Stocked minibar; top-notch Keurig coffeemaker
  • High-tech do-not-disturb switches (rather than a more common door hanger)
  • In-wall safe, large enough for a laptop
  • Spacious marble bathroom with a separate tub and stand-up shower with two heads; bathrobes
  • Quality Aromatherapy Associates bath products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, and lotion)
  • Stunning views of the city from the Club Floor rooms; Executive rooms on the building's corners offer two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows and also have terrific views.

 Features

A lap pool, large fitness center, and a spa -- for the price, it's hard to find this many high-quality features in the neighborhood.

The gym
The gym
  • Large, up-to-date, 24-hour fitness center (free to access); equipment includes five treadmills, three bikes, four elipticals, weight machines, free weights, and a Pilates machine.
  • The spa offers an elaborate list of treatments, from ayurvedic and Swedish massage to body wraps and scrubs to manicures, pedicures, and waxing.
  • Lap pool and hot tub.
  • 24-hour business center (staffed throughout the day) with computers, copiers, scanners, and printers
  • 43,000 square feet of function space, split between 21 meeting rooms
  • A small gift shop off the lobby stocks souveniers, candy, snacks, drinks, and over-the-counter medicine.
  • 6th-floor Club InterContinental Lounge has free breakfast, snacks, beverages, Wi-Fi, computers, a printer, and basic concierge services for a daily fee that covers two guests; access is included when booking a Club Level room.

 Family

The hotel is fine for families, but largely targets business travelers.

The pool
The pool

While there's no particular reason families wouldn't feel welcome here, the hotel largely targets business travelers. That said, the large guest rooms and suites are appealing, even if they're a bit far from the most popular kid-friendly sites around town, like Fisherman's Wharf. For a list of our favorite kid-friendly hotels in San Francisco, click here.

  • Double queen-bed rooms can sleep four comfortably; adjoining rooms available.
  • Fee for rollaway beds; cribs are free.
  • Luce may be a Michelin-star restaurant but the kitchen also serves kid-friendly food like burgers and mac and cheese all day.
  • Just a few blocks to museums and Yerba Buena Gardens, a pleasant park that sometimes hosts activities and festivals

 Pets

The hotel allows some pets.

While the InterContinental doesn't have a hotel dog like the Palomar or set out food and water bowls in the lobby, guests can bring along smaller pets.

  • Cats and dogs welcome (up to 50 pounds)
  • Per-night fee (more or less what you'd pay at the nearby W)

 Cleanliness

As spotless as the day it opened

Not a thing out of place at the InterContinental; rooms are perfectly clean.

 Food

A Michelin-star restaurant with a well-known chef and the city's biggest selection of grappa

Breakfast at Luce Restaurant
Breakfast at Luce Restaurant

Luce restaurant was awarded a Michelin star three years consecutively for Chef Dominique Crenn's New American cuisine, including such house specialties as braised short ribs with haricot verts, roasted cipollini, and horseradish and roasted local organic chicken with slow-cooked egg, corn, and bacon bread salad. More recently, the Versailles-born chef was invited to participate in the Food Network series The Next Iron Chef. Adjacent to Luce on the ground level is Bar 888 -- after the hotel's number on Howard Street -- that's known for its outstanding selection of grappa, the stiff Italian liquor that's served up in ornate glasses or mixed into a variety of inventive cocktails.

  • Luce, a Michelin-star restuarant, serves breakfast and lunch (Monday through Friday) and dinner nightly; Tuesdays through Saturdays, Luce offers an eight-course seasonal tasting menu. (The restaurant is a popular spot for power breakfasts, so feel free to wear a bold tie even if it's before 9 a.m.)
  • Bar 888 has more than 100 types of grappa, served straight up or mixed into cocktails. The bar also serves wine, beer, other spirits, and "bar bites" out of the Luce kitchen, like roasted almonds, charcuterie plates, and pulled pork sliders.
  • Room service is available 24 hours.

 Bottom Line

Built in 2008 near the Moscone Convention Center in the business-oriented neighborhood of SoMa, the modern, 550-room InterContinental's luxury-level service, high-tech guest rooms, lap pool, well-reviewed spa, and Michelin-star restaurant make it one of the best values in San Francisco. But it's worth it to also check rates at the comparable W San Francisco.

Things You Should Know About InterContinental - San Francisco

Address

  • 888 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA, 94103

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • San Francisco Intercontinental

Room Types

  • 2 Bed Wheelchair Roll in Shower
  • 2 Double Beds Wheelchair Accessible
  • Club Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Executive Room
  • Junior Suite
  • King Bay Suite
  • King Junior Suite Wheelchair Access
  • King Terrace Suite
  • One Bedroom Suite
  • One King Bedroom Suite Wheelchair Access
  • One King Bed Wheelchair Accessible
  • Standard Room
  • Superior Room
  • Two Queen Beds Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 550
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: SoMa, San Francisco
Address: 888 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA, 94103
(See Map)
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