Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
Chances are your ears will pop as the elevator whisks you from the ground-level lobby to your room at the Mandarin Oriental. From the top 11 floors of San Francisco's third tallest building, the 158 rooms and suites soar over the city, letting guests take in breathtaking vistas of the city and San Francisco Bay, even without the help of the binoculars the hotel provides. Though other hotels have great views -- the Four Seasons is also on the top of a skyscraper -- none of them can compare to the Mandarin's.
Views take center stage here, but the Mandarin Oriental does more to deserve its place as one of the city's best luxury hotels. The rooms -- all renovated in 2012 -- are some of the city's most spacious and best appointed, with luxury details from featherbeds to marble bathrooms with separate showers and large tubs. High-quality services, including free welcome tea, free overnight shoeshines, and evening turndowns, help cement the Mandarin's luxury reputation.
When it comes to features, the Mandarin meets the luxury standards set by its competitors. The hotel opened an excellent new spa and fitness center in 2012, and the business center is adequate. The brasserie, however -- though good -- isn't a major city dining destination, unlike Ame at the St. Regis. But it does draw a business crowd for power breakfasts and after-work drinks.
The hotel itself is unobtrusive, and could be mistaken for an office building. It's one of the top choices in the city for business travelers, but luxury leisure travelers will also find plenty to appreciate.
Central Financial District location is great for business travelers.
Located in the Financial District, the Mandarin Oriental sits amid city blocks packed with skyscrapers and other office buildings. There's little to do or see right around the hotel -- it's not an area where locals hang out. The area is far from many of the city's most popular attractions (Golden Gate Park, the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge, Haight-Ashbury). But Chinatown, Union Square, and SoMa are nearby, and it's only a 10-minute walk to the scenic waterfront walkway along the Embarcadero, as well as the Ferry Building (where you can take a ferry to Sausalito and eat like a true Californian gourmet).
The views from the rooms, which begin on the 38th floor of the city's third tallest building, are so captivating that it may take guests a moment to start noticing the details inside. And that is very much by design: The hotel styled the chic rooms so as not to compete with the views, decorating them in soothing shades of white, beige, and blue.
Once guests do notice the interiors, they'll find rooms that are among San Francisco's best. Not only are they big by San Francisco standards, but they have luxurious amenities such as pillow-top beds and iPod docks.
Lovely tranquil spa and a modern fitness center
The Mandarin Oriental's lobby business center and pleasant lobby bar are standard for San Francisco hotels. The Mandarin's lovely spa and modern fitness center -- covering a combined 8,000 square feet -- are standouts.
Large, quiet rooms and great service, but families can find better options
It's hard to imagine who the luxurious, spacious rooms here wouldn't be good for, but the hotel's Financial District setting isn't San Francisco's best for families. Families could be comfortable here, but among luxury hotels the Ritz-Carlton offers better services and amenities for kids. The Argonaut, though less luxurious, is a great kid-friendly hotel in Fisherman's Wharf, an area popular with families.
If cleanliness is a virtue, the Mandarin Oriental is a saint. The hotel shines thanks twice-daily housekeeping.
Brasserie S&P draws a business crowd.
The Financial District isn't exactly a foodie destination, but the hotel's restaurant Brasserie S&P serves gourmet cuisine using fresh California produce. It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and draws a primarily business crowd.
First-rate service and lots of thoughtful details
The Mandarin Oriental delivers the same kind of luxury service -- doormen, a separate concierge, twice-daily housekeeping, nightly turndown, around-the-clock room service -- that you'll find at a Ritz or Four Seasons. But small touches, such as water bottles provided by the doormen and free in-room tea upon check-in, elevate the experience from luxurious to exceptional.
With astounding views from elegant, spacious rooms high up in a Financial District skyscraper and the best in pampering service, this Mandarin Oriental lives up to its luxury reputation. The downtown location makes it best for business travelers, but the spa and fitness center are a draw for others as well. And the rooms and services are hard to beat.