Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
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.
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.
Luxury-level service throughout
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.
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.
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.
The hotel is fine for families, but largely targets business travelers.
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.
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.
As spotless as the day it opened
Not a thing out of place at the InterContinental; rooms are perfectly clean.
A Michelin-star restaurant with a well-known chef and the city's biggest selection of grappa
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.
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.