Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
Understated class and numerous charming touches, but the rooms badly need renovations
"Great Taste on Union Square." That's the Prescott's motto, and with nary a slip, the hotel lives up to it. Unlike many other hotels operated by Kimpton, like the Triton, the Prescott aims for understated class. The rooms feature dark-wood furniture and Greek- and Egyptian-themed artwork. The dimly lit lounge off the lobby hosts an impressive free coffee-and-tea spread every morning and a wine hour every evening. At night, a fire roars in the fireplace. (A log fire rather than a gas one would have been even greater taste.) Even the stairs in the hallways are more reminiscent of a charming bed-and-breakfast than a 164-room hotel in downtown San Francisco.
It was surely the classy decor that garnered the Prescott a place on Travel + Leisure's list of the 500 Best Hotels in the World. But, despite its charms, the Prescott isn't one of the world's top 500 hotels -- not even close. The rooms are mostly to blame. They haven't been renovated since 2002, and they're looking worse for the wear. Rooms are marred by dents and scratches; the headboard on one bed dislodged completely during Oyster's stay. None of that ruins a stay by any means, but it prevents this hotel from flying with the elite, no matter how good a deal it offers.
Unfortunately, little help is on the way. While the Prescott's famous restaurant, Postrio, has been updated (the cafe was revamped and the fine dining room was removed) there are no room renovations scheduled in the near future. For now, if you want a boutique near Union Square, you're better off at the similarly priced Clift, or even the Donatello, next door, which is cheaper.
Warm, attentive, and efficient
The Prescott delivers on all its Kimpton boutique warm-hospitality promises. Don't expect them to hit every note like a Ritz or Four Seasons but the notes they do hit, they touch with grace. The hostess at the wine hour kept all glasses full, and chatted with guests in between rounds. The front desk staff was all smiles, all the time. Service requests from the "Forgot It? We've Got It!" directory are responded to quickly.
A block and a half from Union Square and its renowned high-end shopping
The Prescott is in the Union Square area, a block and a half from the square itself, which is known for couture shops and not much else. With enormous outposts of Niketown, Saks, Tiffany, Macy's, Louis Vuitton, and Neiman Marcus, among others, Union Square is to San Francisco as Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive are to New York and L.A., respectively. 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 shopping isn't a priority, you might prefer a neighborhood closer to the city's biggest attractions, like Nob Hill or Fisherman's Wharf.
The rooms are what prevent the Prescott from standing out as one of the city's hidden gems. Last renovated in 2002, they seem even more outdated than that, with a few obsolete CD-player alarm clocks and tube TVs still lingering, and more nicks, dents, and scratches than you could count (though, to be fair, surprisingly few stains -- see Cleanliness, below). In this room, one of the bed's headboards came loose, leaning ominously over the pillows. To stave off a mid-REM concussion, it was removed completely. And while the antique-y furniture adheres to the Prescott's motto -- "Great Taste on Union Square" -- it doesn't help the rooms look any fresher.
Limited, but some nice touches make up for it
As a boutique hotel, the Prescott cannot compete, amenities-wise, with some of its similarly priced neighbors (the Westin St. Francis comes to mind). There's a small fitness center with outdated equipment and a few computers in the lounge off the lobby -- not even a business center, really. That's about it. But the Prescott compensates with several gastronomical heart-warmers: free chocolate-chip cookies at the front desk, free coffee and tea every moring, and a daily hosted wine hour in the afternoon, with one varietal of red and one of white.
Adult vibe, but fine for families
Because of its mature feel (antique-y furniture, muted colors, fireplace) and adult-centered amenities (wine hours, morning coffee and tea), the Prescott isn't ideal for families with young children. Still, there's no reason not to take the young'uns, especially considering the KimptonKids program found at all of the brand's properties.
Like all Kimptons, the Prescott prides itself on its pet-friendliness. All pets stay for free -- no deposit, even -- regardless of size, genus, or species. You can walk your dog in Union Square or Huntington Park. The the nearest dog park, in Alamo Square, is 1.3 miles away.
Technically clean, but plenty beat-up
Home to Wolfgang Puck's Postrio
Right off the lobby sits Wolfgang Puck's acclaimed Postrio, which celebrated its 20th anniversary a few years ago. With time comes age, however, but Postrio underwent renovations in mid-2011 (after Oyster's stay) to keep things fresh. As a result, the main dining room is no longer in operation but the cafe/bar area has been renovated and now has an expanded menu. The service is superb (check out this friendly waiter), and the food was delicious and reasonably priced for a celebrity-chef restaurant. If you go for the famous wood-fired pizzas, you can eat for even less. Click here for the various menus available now.
A classy upper-middle-range boutique right near Union Square's high-end shopping, the Prescott offers a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and charming little touches like nightly wine hours, free cookies, and free morning coffee and tea. But the rooms need some updating, so if the price hits $250 to $300, look elsewhere.