Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A turn-of-the-century manse which completed a multi-million dollar renovation in 2008, the Renaissance Stanford Court is an affordable, if perfunctory, alternative to nearby luxury properties.
The Renaissance Stanford Court began its long life on the crest of posh, historic Nob Hill as the primary residence of 19th-century railroad baron and former California governor Leland Stanford. Its pedigreed history, however, doesn't translate to much in the way of lodging in the present.
In 2008, the hotel underwent a $35-million renovation that all but eradicated its history, yet didn't leave much of a lasting impression. With the exception of the sparkling marble lobby, a chandeliered grand staircase leading downstairs to the meeting rooms and ballrooms, and a big, bright gym with new equipment, it's unclear exactly where all this money went. The hotel is already showing remarkable signs of superficial wear and tear, and details like the slow elevator and strangely industrial bathroom fixtures clearly haven't had the benefit of an upgrade. The legendary Fournou's Ovens, where chef James Beard trained a generation of chefs, including Alice Waters and Paul Prudhomme, was closed as a restaurant (it's still used as a banquet space) and replaced by the decent but unremarkable Aurea).
Standard rooms are average to large for San Francisco, ranging from 245 to 360 square feet, but oversize furniture can make the space seem smaller than it is. The deluxe queen room would've felt a lot less cramped if it hadn't been crammed with the huge, granite-topped credenza that was conspicuously missing a minibar. While one of the hotel's major selling points is its arresting city views, the view in the interior-facing room is of an alley and a drab cement-and-brick building. More scuffs and smudges than one would expect from a newly renovated room were plainly apparent, and rust and discoloration marred the marble in the bathroom's shower. Windows were filthy, making the already rather dark room even darker. For a bit more per night than the standard, a deluxe view room ensures a window with a more scenic expanse, but let's hope it's cleaner.
Though billed as a luxury hotel, the Reanissance Stanford Court has services, amenities, and room features that are squarely mid-grade. And it can get rowdy here on weekends -- late night elevator rides are often shared with gaggles of post-collegiate revelers returning from a club. The Stanford Court is much more affordable than the nearby Huntington and Fairmont, of course, but the latter two truly shine as historic, luxury properties. You can get a good rate for Nob Hill here, but if you're willing to go a bit farther afield, there are better options.
In Nob Hill, one of the city's ritziest neighborhoods
The Renaissance Stanford Court sits at the crest of posh, historic Nob Hill, a wealthy residential neighborhood jokingly -- only, half-jokingly -- referred to by locals as "Snob Hill." It sits two blocks from Chinatown's main artery of Grant Street and is catty-corner from those famed robber baron mansions-turned-hotels, the Fairmont and the Huntington. With the exception of seafood institution Swan Oyster Depot about a mile away on Grant Street, restaurants and bars are few -- trek north to Russian Hill or downhill towards Market Street for more options.
A historic property renovated in 2008, the Renaissance Stanford Court has several of the less endearing quirks of an older building but few of its vestigial charms. Still, it's a relative bargain for the posh Nob Hill address.