Laurel Inn Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Pacific Heights, San Francisco, California

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • The hotel claims to have a concierge, but it's just the front desk attendant
  • No room service or porters
  • Fee for parking (but cheaper than at other San Francisco hotels)

Bottom Line

Spacious, apartment-like rooms, loads of free perks, and basic but stylish decor distinguish the 49-room Laurel Inn. Located in Pacific Heights amid upscale galleries and boutiques but away from the tourist frenzy, it's an ideal spot for long-term visitors or travelers who who don't require a full array of services.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Large, cozy rooms and a hands-off management style

The Laurel is well removed from the tourist frenzy.
The Laurel is well removed from the tourist frenzy.

About two miles from crowded tourist destinations like Fisherman's Wharf and Union Square, the Laurel Inn's location in the largely residential Pacific Heights neighborhood means guests can stroll quiet blocks lined with upscale galleries, boutiques, and antique shops. The hotel is five blocks from the 1,491-acre Presidio National Park, with its miles of hiking trails and bicycle routes and dozens of historic landmarks.

The Laurel is a Joie de Vivre property, but unlike that company's Good Hotel, in the SoMa neighborhood -- where a '70s soundtrack and bright, whimsical design put a hip spin on an overarching environmentalist motif -- its elements don't really cohere around any one theme. The Laurel is just plain cozy: The 49 rooms are large and homey, with basic but comfortable modern furniture, and there are memorable extras throughout: free lemonade and freshly baked cookies in the lobby, flowers in the elevator, a free glass of wine at the bar next door. There's a continental breakfast every morning and free coffee and tea in the lobby all day. The lobby also has board games, puzzles, and a deck of cards. For pets, there's a water bowl and some tennis balls for chasing and chewing.

The hotel hasn't been renovated since 1999, but the colors are more vibrant, the technology is more up to date, and the furniture is in better condition than most comparable hotels still fresh from their facelifts. Not that there haven't been periodic upgrades: The king-size mattresses were replaced in 2008, and air-conditioning and soundproof windows were on the docket as of October 2009.

The Laurel's location also makes it a popular long-term lodging option for patients recovering from surgery or undergoing regular treatment at nearby hospitals and university medical facilities, including UCSF, USF, and the Presidio Veterans Hospital. Across the street from the Jewish Community Center, it's also a popular destination for those attending bar and bat mitzvahs.

 Service

The Laurel isn't big on services, but that's part of its apartment-like appeal.

Candy at the front desk
Candy at the front desk

The staff's hands-off approach makes the Laurel, like most other Joie de Vivre hotels, an ideal place for guests who don't want or need the full range of typical hotel services, who either know the neighborhood or are content to explore.

 Location

On the western edge of the Pacific Heights neighborhood, five blocks from Presidio National Park

The Laurel Inn's location on the western edge of the largely residential Pacific Heights neighborhood means guests can stroll quiet blocks lined with upscale galleries, boutiques, and antique shops. The hotel is five blocks from the 1,491-acre Presidio National Park, with its miles of hiking trails and bicycle routes and dozens of historic landmarks.

  • Around the corner from the 98-year-old Vogue Theatre, one of San Francisco's oldest operating cinemas and known as a popular venue for Woody Allen films
  • While homelessness and vagrancy are common throughout San Francisco, there's much less of it in Pacific Heights than in denser neighborhoods.
  • Five-minute drive from Golden Gate Park
  • Five minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge
  • 10 minutes from Fisherman's Wharf and ferries to Alcatraz
  • 30 minutes from San Francisco International Airport
  • Not close to cable car lines, but several bus lines run by the hotel

 Rooms

A spacious mix of style and comfort; 18 of the 49 rooms have kitchenettes

A standard Presidio room offers plenty of space.
A standard Presidio room offers plenty of space.

The Laurel claims to have fashioned its rooms "in the style of a modern San Francisco studio apartment," and it largely succeeded. The rooms with kitchenettes feel especially like furnished residences. The color scheme -- lots of black and tan with splashes of cobalt blue -- give the rooms a modern look, but the vibe is also softened by touches like down comforters, wooden window blinds, and plush curtains. The overall feel is pleasingly lived in.

  • Large apartment-like rooms
  • LG 31-inch flat-screen TVs with DVD players
  • Timex alarm clock with CD player
  • Portable fan and Lasko humidifier in closet
  • Luxury Comfort Premium Collection mattress from Master Sleep, with down comforter and cotton pillows
  • Rollaway beds are charged per night and must be requested before arrival
  • Kitchenettes have an oven, stove, sink, microwave, unstocked mini-fridge, coffeemaker, coffee, tea, pots, pans, plates, glasses, and utensils
  • Some kitchenette rooms have paintings by local artists, available for purchase

 Features

The hotel piles on the free perks.

The Swank Cocktail Club, attached to the hotel
The Swank Cocktail Club, attached to the hotel

The Laurel is small and largely hands-off in the way it treats its guests, but there are a surprising number of perks nonetheless.

  • Covered parking for an extra fee
  • The bar and lounge next door, Swank Cocktail Club, is affiliated with the hotel; guests get a free glass of wine.
  • Discount passes to the fitness center, children's pool, and adult lap pool at the Jewish Community Center across the street -- daily fee applied.
  • A computer and printer are available for a fee.
  • Joie de Vivre donates $200 per room per year to philanthropic organizations: Rocket Dog Rescue, which helps abandoned animals find homes; and Koret Family House, which helps children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

 Pet-Friendly

An enthusiastically pet-friendly hotel

For no extra charge, the Laurel offers such in-room amenities as pet beds, food and water bowls, a city guidebook for pet owners, and a chew toy and personalized welcome note addressed to the pet (e.g., "Dear Dr. McGillicutty"). The lobby is stocked with treats and tennis balls.

 Family

The rooms are large, and those with kitchenettes are especially accomodating to families.

Kitchenette rooms are great for families.
Kitchenette rooms are great for families.

The Laurel Inn's intimate scale and apartment-like rooms make it a natural place to settle in with the family for a few days -- especially if you book one of the 18 rooms with a kitchenette -- but the hotel's small size also means you don't get all the features you'd get at many larger hotels. There's no pool, no outdoor space, no kids' menu (no menu at all, in fact, unless you count bar bites at Swank).

  • Free cribs provided on request
  • Rollaway beds are charged per night and must be requested before arrival
  • Children 12 and under who share a room with an adult stay at no additional fee

 Cleanliness

Clean and tidy

The Laurel feels meticulously well kept but not fussy.

 Food

No on-site restuarant, but just a short walk from dining options

Continental breakfast in the lobby
Continental breakfast in the lobby

There are several Italian restaurants and delis in the vicinity, and the hotel is a short walk from restaurants at Laurel Village shopping center. Eighteen of the rooms have kitchenettes.

 Bottom Line

Spacious, apartment-like rooms, loads of free perks, and basic but stylish decor distinguish the 49-room Laurel Inn. Located in Pacific Heights amid upscale galleries and boutiques but away from the tourist frenzy, it's an ideal spot for long-term visitors or travelers who who don't require a full array of services.

Things You Should Know About Laurel Inn

Address

  • 444 Presidio Ave, San Francisco, CA 94115

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Laurel Hotel San Francisco
  • Laurel Inn San Francisco
  • Laurel San Francisco

Room Types

  • City View Room
  • City View Room with Kitchenette
  • Presidio Kitchenette Room
  • Presidio Room
  • Queen Budget Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 49
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Pacific Heights, San Francisco
Address: 444 Presidio Ave, San Francisco, CA 94115
(See Map)
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