JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Union Square, San Francisco, California

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Pros

Cons

  • No spa or pool
  • Fee for Wi-Fi
  • Pricey valet parking (typical for the area)
  • Room service is not 24 hours

Bottom Line

The JW Marriott -- the chain's high-end brand -- tries to keep pace with the town's luxury standard-bearers with touches like 24-hour butler service and 42-inch flat-screen TVs in the spacious rooms. But with unremarkable room decor, no destination restaurant or spa, and so-so service, the hotel is just a better-than-average chain hotel.

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 Scene

A better-than-average chain hotel, but it can't compete with the city's luxury icons.

The hotel's lobby atrium
The hotel's lobby atrium

The JW Marriott brand is the company's high-end line, but in a city with so many well-established luxury hotels, from the historic Westin St. Francis to the intimate Huntington to the sumptous St. Regis, the three-year-old JW Marriott San Francisco doesn't come close to cracking those ranks. Instead, the 338-room JW Marriott falls somewhere between a midpriced chain hotel and a true luxury property. The rooms, all with 42-inch flat-screen TVs, are spacious, but the bland decor could just as easily be found at a regular Marriott.

The flourishes that might elevate the hotel are missing, which is a shame because the building is striking. The most notable feature of the 1987 building, originally the Portman Hotel, is the 19-story atrium that rises above the 3rd-floor lobby. Glass elevators whisk guests up to rooms off open hallways, giving them a bird's eye view of the elegant bronze scupture by noted 20th-century American sculptor Elbert Weinberg.

With nightly turndown and a butler on call, the hotel promises luxury service, but the delivery sometimes falls short. If you're a Marriott Rewards member, this is certainly a much better choice than the 1,499-room, convention-centric Marriott in SoMa. For a similar concept but with more style, check out the W San Francisco. But if your preference is a high-end chain, go for the true luxury brands like the St. Regis or the Fairmont.

 Service

A wealth of offerings

A concierge is available until 10 p.m.
A concierge is available until 10 p.m.

With nightly turndown service, a "butler" on call, free shoeshines, and other such perks, the JW Marriott strives to deliver the kind of five-star service guests find at top luxury hotels in the city, such as the St. Regis or the Campton Place Taj. The breadth of services is indeed impressive. What's missing is the palpable feeling of being attended to with extra care.

  • 24-hour butler, reachable via a switch on the wall. This advertised "personal butler" is a guest services staff member who will stop by your room and help with housekeeping requests like extra towels or bath salts.
  • Evening turndown service
  • Concierge available throughout the day
  • In-room massages can be scheduled through the concierge.
  • Room service available for breakfast and dinner, no service inbetween
  • Video and express checkout
  • Laundry service including one-hour pressing
  • Free shoeshine
  • Business services include messenger service and a notary public.
  • Valet parking is pricey, but typical for the area. Self-parking is available in nearby lots not associated with the hotel.

 Location

One block away from shopping-centric Union Square

JW Marriott is on the corner of Post and Mason Streets, one block northwest of Union Square, which is famous for its couture shops. 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 City and Rodeo Drive is to L.A. Locals don't hang out here, but the square is great for people-watching nonetheless, and occasionally plays host to small festivals and demonstrations. Still, if consumption isn't a priority, you might prefer a neighborhood closer to the biggest tourists attractions, like Fisherman's Wharf.

  • The Mason-Powell cable car runs right outside the hotel. For $5, it can take you to Fisherman's Wharf, or, with a transfer, to Lombard Street and Ghirardelli Square.
  • Far from top tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, and Haight-Ashbury but then so are the other neighborhoods with mid- to high-priced hotels.
  • Discount day-of theater seats available at the Union Square ticket kiosk
  • Plenty of dining nearby, but if you want to avoid high-end hotel restaurants and national chains, explore the blocks leading up to Nob Hill, where you'll find an abundance of small local restaurants.
  • Il Caffe at Union Square, on the eastern side of the square, charges exorbitant rates for its coffee and snacks, but you can't beat the outdoor setting on a sunny day.
  • The nearest drugstore, Walgreens, is two blocks away, on Geary Street, near Taylor.
  • 30-minute taxi from San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • While Union Square is a safe neighborhood, be careful of wandering into the neighboring Tenderloin district, an area with a reputation for being unsafe and unsavory.

 Rooms

Large, comfortable rooms with a few luxury amenities

The Standard Room
The Standard Room

At 360 square feet, the standard room at the JW Marriott is almost twice as big as the average basic room in San Francisco. Ample space may be luxurious, but the room decor isn't. With no rich fabrics or ornate detailing, the plain room could just as easily be in a Marriott as in the chain's high-end JW Marriott arm. The rooms are comfortable to be sure, but they fall short of true luxury. While the impressive 42-inch flat-screen TV and the spacious marble bathroom signal luxury, the plush beddings, lounge chair, and ergonomic desk chair are standard fare at any midpriced chain these days. The room's most distinctive feature is a switch on the wall for requesting service at any time. It's a cool concept -- if it works.

  • Soft pillow-top mattress on king-size bed, with 300-thread-count sheets and down comforter from the Marriott's Revive bedding collection; standard rooms with two double beds also available
  • Gleaming marble bathroom with a separate tub and shower, plus mirrors all around. Stainless steel bathroom fixtures include a rain showerhead
  • 42-inch flat-screen TV with pay-per-view movies and 50 channels, including HBO
  • Bose Wave radio and CD player. To hook up an iPod, though, you have to bring your own cable.
  • A cable that connects your laptop to the TV is provided -- in case you need to see your Facebook page on a 42-inch screen.
  • Guest can also connect a personal DVD player to the TV through ports beside the desk, but you'll need to bring your own cable.
  • Desk comes with a Herman Miller Aeron chair
  • In-room Wi-Fi is available for a fee
  • The minibar features premium alcohol, including tiny bottles of Grey Goose and Chivas Regal.
  • Coffeemaker with free hotel-brand coffee packets and tea bags.
  • Nirvae bath products include bergamot-and-tea-tree-scented shampoo and conditioner, plus orange-and-sandalwood-scented lotion. Cotton balls, ear buds, bar soap, and two soft cotton robes also provided
  • Safe big enough to hold a laptop

 Features

A gym, a business center, and, for the right price, a club lounge

The fitness center is open 24 hours.
The fitness center is open 24 hours.

The JW Marriott has the requisite big-city hotel features, but nothing else. Several nearby hotels like the Hotel Nikko have a pool. The Hilton San Francisco has both a pool and a spa. If all you need is a good Internet connection and a gym, though, this hotel will do the job.

  • 24-hour fitness center with a respectable range of cardio and weight-training equipment. Treadmills and bikes have individual TV screens. No separate space to lay down an exercise mat
  • 24-hour business center has three PCs, two printers, and a copier. Computer use (including Internet) is charged per minute. Shipping service is available Monday through Friday.
  • Wi-Fi is available in the lobby and rooms for a fee.
  • 19 meeting rooms can be booked by guests.
  • The club lounge on the 22nd floor is open only to certain guests based on their room rate, and to Marriott Gold and Platinum Rewards members; free buffet breakfast and evening hors d'oeuvres; guests not eligibile for free entry can pay per day.

 Family

Enough space for a family but little else for kids

The sofa bed in the Junior Suite
The sofa bed in the Junior Suite

This city hotel doesn't have a family vibe to speak of. Parents and kids can fit in the standard room -- though a suite with a sofa bed would be better -- and the room service menu has kids' choices, but that's about it for a family. Fisherman's Wharf hotels such as the Radisson and the Sheraton have outdoor pools, and they're closer to major tourist attractions like Pier 39 and the boats to Alcatraz.

  • At 360 square feet, the standard room is large. Yet fitting a family into one with two double beds would be a tight squeeze.
  • Free rollaway beds can fit in standard rooms with a king-size bed.
  • Cribs are free.
  • Studio (550 square feet) and One-Bedroom Suite (800 square feet) both have a sofa bed.
  • Connecting rooms not available
  • Room service has a kids' menu that includes French toast sticks and chicken fingers. No kids' menu at Level Three restaurant.

 Pet-Friendly

Pets weighing 25 pounds and under allowed

The hotel is fine with small pets (25 pounds or less). Guests must pay nonrefundable $75 fee.

 Cleanliness

Very clean throughout.

No problems in the rooms. Everything's done up with a polish.

 Food

Casual lobby restaurant serving New American cuisine

Level Three
Level Three

The hotel's only restaurant, Level Three, is on -- where else -- the 3rd floor, right off the lobby. Unlike Postrio at the Prescott Hotel across the street, Level Three isn't a destination restaurant. With no walls separating its red and yellow booths from the lobby, it feels like a standard hotel restaurant, not a distinctive eatery in its own right.

  • Level Three open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. New American cuisine.
  • Room service is available for breakfast and dinner with no service inbetween. Menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches and pizzas. There is a service charge, delivery charge, and tax applied.
  • "Carb conscious" options on the room service menu, like an eggwhite frittata.

 Bottom Line

The JW Marriott -- the chain's high-end brand -- tries to keep pace with the town's luxury standard-bearers with touches like 24-hour butler service and 42-inch flat-screen TVs in the spacious rooms. But with unremarkable room decor, no destination restaurant or spa, and so-so service, the hotel is just a better-than-average chain hotel.

Things You Should Know About JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square

Address

  • 500 Post Street corner of Post and Mason, San Francisco, CA, 94102, US

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Marriott San Francisco
  • Pan Pacific Hotel San Francisco
  • San Francisco Jw Marriott
  • San Francisco Marriott

Room Types

  • California Suite
  • City View Room
  • Club Level Standard Room
  • Pacific Suite
  • Pure Allergy Friendly Guest Room
  • Standard Room
  • Studio
  • Studio City View

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 329
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: Union Square, San Francisco
Address: 500 Post Street corner of Post and Mason, San Francisco, CA, 94102, US
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