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Handlery Union Square Hotel 3.5

Union Square, San Francisco, California

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Review Summary

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  • A great heated, outdoor pool and open-air atrium
  • Small, private sauna that individuals and groups can reserve
  • Knowledgeable concierge
  • Unusually large business center (five computers)
  • Close to major shopping options and public transportation
  • On-site fitness center
  • Free Wi-Fi


  • Street-facing rooms can be noisy
  • Tiny shower in some rooms
  • No late-night room service
  • Fee for valet parking

Bottom Line

The Handlery is an upper-middle-range hotel with well-appointed rooms, a heated outdoor pool, and on-site restaurant. The hotel is divided into two distinct sections, and it's worth shelling out extra for the larger, amenity-laden Premier Section rooms. Its free Wi-Fi, sauna, and fitness center make it a solid choice among Union Square's cheaper offerings.

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The Handlery offers an admirable range of services and amenities.

The Handlery is now in its third generation of family stewardship. In 1948, Harry Handlery purchased the building (now housing the Historic Rooms) and in 1964 opened an adjacent hotel, the Handlery Motor Inn (now containing the Premier Rooms). Jon Handlery, the current general manager, merged the two in 1987 to form the Handlery Union Square.

Situated on a bustling Union Square block amid art galleries, hotels, restaurants and Irish pubs, the Handlery's somewhat drab outward appearance is a partial indicator of the quality of its contents. The lobby is generic but contemporary, with arrangements of chairs and couches throughout. Still, in spite of its generally unremarkable furnishings, the 377-room hotel is elevated by its always adequate and occasionally impressive service, its dashes of throwback charm, and its open-air atrium and heated pool. The hotel has two room sections: the smaller, Historic and the larger Premier, which have better views, and in-room amenities like bathrobes and Lather toiletries.


Centrally located in Union Square, near major shopping destinations and public transportation

The Handlery sits on the western border of Union Square, which is famous for its high-end retail shops and not much else. Home to enormous outposts of Niketown, Saks, Tiffany, Macy's, Louis Vuitton, and Neiman Marcus, among others. Union Square is to San Francisco what 5th Avenue is to New York and Rodeo Drive is to L.A. Locals don't hang out here, but the square is great for people-watching nonetheless, and it occasionally plays host to small festivals and demonstrations. Still, if conspicuous consumption isn't a priority, you might prefer a neighborhood closer to the city's biggest attractions, like Nob Hill or Fisherman's Wharf.

  • Safe neighborhood (though vagrancy and panhandling are common, as throughout San Francisco)
  • 30-minute taxi to San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • About 40 mintues to the Golden Gate Bridge, 15 minutes to Golden Gate Park, 10 minutes to Fisherman's Wharf and ferries to Alcatraz
  • The hotel is right on two cable car routes: the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines, both of which run north through the Russian Hill and Nob Hill neighborhoods and terminate near Fisherman's Wharf.


The Handlery offers two different experiences: the conventional "Historic" section and the more spacious and amenity-laden "Premier" section

The Handlery's two distinct sections -- which were once separate hotels -- have a few key differences, from room size to quality of furnishings to brand of bathroom products. Guests can upgrade from a small Historic room to a much larger Premier room with better furnishings, better views, and more luxurious amenities. It's worth it.

Premier Rooms

  • At 450 square feet, rooms are quite large for San Francisco, and many overlook the courtyard pool and have a balcony or patio.
  • Cable TV and pay-per-view movies
  • Lather bath products
  • Up-to-date technology, like the Samsung flat-screen TV and MP3-enabled clock radio, in addition to extras like a lighted makeup mirror, bathroom scale, bathrobes, two phones, free local weekday newspaper, Wi-Fi, and an electric shoe polisher.
  • Comfortable beds with Serta Perfect Sleeper Master Suite mattresses

Historic Section

  • Flat-screen TVs
  • Comfortable beds with Serta Perfect Sleeper Master Suite mattresses
  • Cable TV and pay-per-view movies
  • Room includes a Mr. Coffee coffeemaker, mini-fridge, and Nintendo 64, for a fee. 
  • Clean bathrooms with Holcombe & Moore aromatherapy bath products, but some have tiny showers


An outdoor pool is the Handlery's gem.

The Handlery's features are comparable to other Union Square hotels with comparable rates. But it also boasts one of the few -- and one of the best -- outdoor pools in the neighborhood, open year round. Situated in an open-air atrium that includes lounge chairs, tables and well-kept trees and flowers, it has no lifeguard or hot tub.

  • Private sauna can be booked, for an hour at a time, through the concierge. Dark and low-ceilinged, it's open daily.
  • Business center, right off the lobby, has five computers and a printer. Guests pay to use the Internet in either 45 minute or daily increments.
  • Small fitness center with cardio machines and free weights.
  • Roof access via a stairway, for views -- though not particularly scenic -- of the surrounding cityscape.
  • Men's only barbershop in lobby. Once a ubiquitous hotel service, the barbershop has faded, eclipsed by fitness centers and spas as standard amenities. The Handlery preserves the tradition, running a two-chair, men's only operation.
  • Pricey valet parking, unlimited in-and-out privileges

Pet Friendly

Pet-friendly, with a large refundable deposit

The hotel has a non-refundable fee-per-day dog policy and requires a large refundable deposit. There is a limit of one dog per room and a 40 lb. weight limit. Dogs can be left alone in the room if in a crate. They are permitted in public areas, but not dining establishments, while on a leash.


The hotel is accomodating to families.

While the Handlery doesn't have any kid-specific amenities, the hotel is a pretty good choice for families.

  • Kids will love the pool
  • Room service kids' menu
  • Free cribs
  • Rollaway beds for charge


The Daily Grill is right off the hotel lobby, but then again, the neighborhood has a wealth of dining options.

The Daily Grill, adjacent to the hotel lobby, serves American fare. Its black-and-white framed photos lend it the air of a smoky men's club. Room service is available from morning until around 10 p.m. 

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351 Geary Street, San Francisco, California 94102-1801, United States


(415) 781-7800

Also Known As

  • Handlery
  • Handlery Hotel
  • Handlery Hotel San Francisco
  • Handlery Union Square
  • Handlery Union Square San Francisco
  • Hotel Handlery Union Square

Room Types

  • Club Room
  • Petite Room
  • Roof Top Garden Suite
  • San Francisco Suite
  • Standard Room

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