Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A reasonable and affordable choice in a central location -- just don't buy into the hype
This is the classic case of a hotel that markets itself well but isn't exactly what it promises to be. The 104-room hotel's website is full of words like "chic" and "stylish" -- as well as an award from TripAdvisor for being "one of the top best luxury hotels in the U.S.." The hotel identifies itself as a "luxury boutique," but that's a pretty big stretch, especially in San Francisco, where "luxury" is a designation reserved for the city's grand old dames like the Fairmont, and "boutique" requires a level of real design originality.
If you ignore the Orchard's hype, you'll find it to be a decent hotel with a great location. The rooms are far from chic or stylish, but they're spacious and clean, and each has a comfortable king-size bed with a pillow-top mattress and soft linens. Perks include free Wi-Fi, two terrycloth robes, a "Deep Sleep" CD to lull insomniacs into getting some shut-eye, and a Greenopia guidebook full of listings of earth-friendly businesses in the Bay Area.
Ah, the issue of being green. The Orchard is an LEED-certified hotel (its sister property, the Orchard Garden Hotel, was the first to be certified in San Francisco), which means it was designed to meet exacting efficiency and materials standards laid out by the US Green Building Council. Kudos on that, but it doesn't change that there's very little about the Orchard that goes beyond the ordinary: The gym is a converted guestroom with three machines -- a treadmill, an elliptical machine, and an exercise bike -- and the "business center" consists of one laptop in the lobby. The restaurant and bar, Daffodil, serves local and organic food (not uncommon in San Francisco), and it's only open for breakfast and dinner. Unlike at other boutique hotels such as Hotel Rex, there is no free wine hour. There's also no pool or spa. Guests can purchase discounted day passes to Club One Fitness at Union Square which grant access to a pool and a larger variety of fitness equipment. The gym is a five-minute walk from the hotel. Discounted day passes are also available to any 24 Hour Fitness facilities in the area. The closest is a ten-minute walk from the hotel.
The Orchard's best feature is its location between the high-end shops of Union Square and scenic, ritzy Nob Hill. It's also just two blocks west of Chinatown. The block itself is vibrant, with a popular bar called Tunnel Top. If your hope is simply to stay in a clean and comfortable hotel room at a central location, this is a good option. Similar hotels in the area include the Donatello with its large suites and kitchenettes, and the Galleria Park, which has a free wine hour and a 3rd-floor public terrace. If you choose the Orchard, just don't expect luxury -- even if it's what you're promised.
Conveniently situated between the high-end shops of Union Square and scenic, ritzy Nob Hill, the Orchard puts most of the city's tourist attractions in easy reach without being smack in the middle of a major tourist area.
This 104-room hotel between Union Square and Nob Hill boasts LEED certification but not much else. It's eco-friendly -- and proud of it -- but that's about as special as the hotel gets. Rooms are comfortable and clean, and amenities are nondescript. A fine but somewhat boring choice with affordable rates in a central location.