Near upscale boutiques, antique shops, and restaurants
Movie theater on the same block
The hotel claims to have a concierge, but it's just the front desk attendant
No room service or porters
Fee for parking (but cheaper than at other San Francisco hotels)
Spacious, apartment-like rooms, loads of free perks, and basic but stylish decor distinguish the 49-room Laurel Inn. Located in Pacific Heights amid upscale galleries and boutiques but away from the tourist frenzy, it's an ideal spot for long-term visitors or travelers who who don't require a full array of services.
Large, cozy rooms and a hands-off management style
About two miles from crowded tourist destinations like Fisherman's Wharf and Union Square, the Laurel Inn's location in the largely residential Pacific Heights neighborhood means guests can stroll quiet blocks lined with upscale galleries, boutiques, and antique shops. The hotel is five blocks from the 1,491-acre Presidio National Park, with its miles of hiking trails and bicycle routes and dozens of historic landmarks.
The Laurel is a Joie de Vivre property, but unlike that company's Good Hotel, in the SoMa neighborhood -- where a '70s soundtrack and bright, whimsical design put a hip spin on an overarching environmentalist motif -- its elements don't really cohere around any one theme. The Laurel is just plain cozy: The 49 rooms are large and homey, with basic but comfortable modern furniture, and there are memorable extras throughout: free lemonade and freshly baked cookies in the lobby, flowers in the elevator, a free glass of wine at the bar next door. There's a continental breakfast every morning and free coffee and tea in the lobby all day. The lobby also has board games, puzzles, and a deck of cards. For pets, there's a water bowl and some tennis balls for chasing and chewing.
The hotel hasn't been renovated since 1999, but the colors are more vibrant, the technology is more up to date, and the furniture is in better condition than most comparable hotels still fresh from their facelifts. Not that there haven't been periodic upgrades: The king-size mattresses were replaced in 2008, and air-conditioning and soundproof windows were on the docket as of October 2009.
The Laurel's location also makes it a popular long-term lodging option for patients recovering from surgery or undergoing regular treatment at nearby hospitals and university medical facilities, including UCSF, USF, and the Presidio Veterans Hospital. Across the street from the Jewish Community Center, it's also a popular destination for those attending bar and bat mitzvahs.
The Laurel isn't big on services, but that's part of its apartment-like appeal.
The staff's hands-off approach makes the Laurel, like most other Joie de Vivre hotels, an ideal place for guests who don't want or need the full range of typical hotel services, who either know the neighborhood or are content to explore.
The hotel claims to have a concierge, but really it's the front desk attendant.
On the western edge of the Pacific Heights neighborhood, five blocks from Presidio National Park
The Laurel Inn's location on the western edge of the largely residential Pacific Heights neighborhood means guests can stroll quiet blocks lined with upscale galleries, boutiques, and antique shops. The hotel is five blocks from the 1,491-acre Presidio National Park, with its miles of hiking trails and bicycle routes and dozens of historic landmarks.
Around the corner from the 98-year-old Vogue Theatre, one of San Francisco's oldest operating cinemas and known as a popular venue for Woody Allen films
While homelessness and vagrancy are common throughout San Francisco, there's much less of it in Pacific Heights than in denser neighborhoods.
The Laurel claims to have fashioned its rooms "in the style of a modern San Francisco studio apartment," and it largely succeeded. The rooms with kitchenettes feel especially like furnished residences. The color scheme -- lots of black and tan with splashes of cobalt blue -- give the rooms a modern look, but the vibe is also softened by touches like down comforters, wooden window blinds, and plush curtains. The overall feel is pleasingly lived in.
Joie de Vivre donates $200 per room per year to philanthropic organizations: Rocket Dog Rescue, which helps abandoned animals find homes; and Koret Family House, which helps children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
For no extra charge, the Laurel offers such in-room amenities as pet beds, food and water bowls, a city guidebook for pet owners, and a chew toy and personalized welcome note addressed to the pet (e.g., "Dear Dr. McGillicutty"). The lobby is stocked with treats and tennis balls.
The rooms are large, and those with kitchenettes are especially accomodating to families.
The Laurel Inn's intimate scale and apartment-like rooms make it a natural place to settle in with the family for a few days -- especially if you book one of the 18 rooms with a kitchenette -- but the hotel's small size also means you don't get all the features you'd get at many larger hotels. There's no pool, no outdoor space, no kids' menu (no menu at all, in fact, unless you count bar bites at Swank).
Free cribs provided on request
Rollaway beds are charged per night and must be requested before arrival
Children 12 and under who share a room with an adult stay at no additional fee