Large, chic rooms all have stunning high-rise views
Big bathrooms, most with deep soaking tubs and walk-in showers
High-end services such as free in-room welcome tea upon check-in
Modern gym; cardio machines have individual TVs
Lovely, tranquil spa with sophisticated decor
Fee for parking
With astounding views from elegant, spacious rooms high up in a Financial District skyscraper and the best in pampering service, the Loews San Francisco Hotel (formerly Mandarin Oriental) lives up to its luxe reputation. The downtown location makes it best for business travelers, but the spa and fitness center are a draw for others as well. And the rooms and services are hard to beat.
Chances are your ears will pop as the elevator whisks you from the ground-level lobby to your room at the Loews San Francisco Hotel. From the top 11 floors of San Francisco's third tallest building, the 158 rooms and suites soar over the city, letting guests take in breathtaking vistas of the city and San Francisco Bay, even without the help of the binoculars the hotel provides. Though other hotels have great views -- the Four Seasons is also on the top of a skyscraper -- none of them can compare to Loews'.
Views take center stage here, but the property does more to deserve its place as one of the city's best luxury hotels. The rooms -- all renovated in 2012 -- are some of the city's most spacious and best appointed, with luxury details from featherbeds to marble bathrooms with separate showers and large tubs. High-quality services, including free welcome tea, use of the house car, free overnight shoeshines, and evening turndowns, help cement its luxury reputation.
The hotel opened an excellent spa and fitness center in 2012, and the business center is adequate. The brasserie, however -- though good -- isn't a major city dining destination, unlike Ame at the St. Regis. But it does draw a business crowd for power breakfasts and after-work drinks.
The hotel itself is unobtrusive, and could be mistaken for an office building. It's one of the top choices in the city for business travelers, but luxury leisure travelers will also find plenty to appreciate.
Located in the Financial District, the hotel sits amid city blocks packed with skyscrapers and other office buildings. There's little to do or see right around the hotel -- it's not an area where locals hang out. The area is far from many of the city's most popular attractions (Golden Gate Park, the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge, Haight-Ashbury). But Chinatown, Union Square, and SoMa are nearby, and it's only a 10-minute walk to the scenic waterfront walkway along the Embarcadero, as well as the Ferry Building (where you can take a ferry to Sausalito and eat like a true Californian gourmet).
Safe (though vagrancy and panhandling are common, as throughout San Francisco)
Far from the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, and Haight-Ashbury but then so are other neighborhoods with high-end hotels
A 10-minute walk to both Union Square and the Ferry Building, where you can take a ferry to Sausalito or eat at a number of gourmet food shops and restaurants
10-minute walk to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum
Great transportation access: Cabs are easy to come by, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit -- the trains that serve the greater bay area, including the airport) stops two blocks away, buses are close by, and California cable car line runs right next to the hotel
30-minute taxi from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) airport (or the BART, which also takes 30 minutes, but costs much less)
Three miles from Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz ferries
High-design and city views from the 38th to 48th floors make these some of the city's best rooms.
The views from the rooms, which begin on the 38th floor of the city's third tallest building, are so captivating that it may take guests a moment to start noticing the details inside. And that is very much by design: The hotel styled the chic rooms so as not to compete with the views, decorating them in soothing shades of white, beige, and blue.
Once guests do notice the interiors, they'll find rooms that are among San Francisco's best. Not only are they big by San Francisco standards, but they have luxurious amenities such as pillow-top beds and iPod docks. Generously sized rooms range from 350 to 575 square feet (large by city standards); suites are 800 to 2,000 square feet
Pillow-top beds have Egyptian cotton sheets, plus down comforters; almost all have King beds, but there is a Queen Room; Executive Suites have option of two double beds
Big bathrooms with marble tile; most have deep tubs and separate walk-in showers
Bathrooms have Julien Farel toiletries, small personal care sets (shower cap, nail files, cotton swabs), and two bathrobe types: lightweight waffled cotton or terryclotth
32-inch flat-screen LG television and a DVD player have 45 channels plus pay-per-view
Geneva sound systems with iPod docking stations and MP3 hookup
Minibars are stocked with a good selection of drinks and snacks
Bushnell binoculars provided for guests to spy on the city below
Soundproof windows can be opened up to six inches for fresh air, but no farther for safety seasons
The hotel's business center and pleasant lobby bar are standard for San Francisco hotels. The lovely spa and modern fitness center -- covering a combined 8,000 square feet -- are standouts.
The spa and fitness center opened in 2012 on the third floor. The spa features four treatment rooms, a couple's room, and a tea lounge, while the gym offers Technogym equipment and Precor Machines. Cardio machines have individual TVs.
Small, unstaffed business center open from Monday to Friday, with a couple of pay-for-use computers.
Large, quiet rooms and great service, but families can find better options
It's hard to imagine who the luxurious, spacious rooms here wouldn't be good for, but the hotel's Financial District setting isn't San Francisco's best for families. Families could be comfortable here, but among luxury hotels the Ritz-Carlton offers better services and amenities for kids. The Argonaut, though less luxurious, is a great kid-friendly hotel in Fisherman's Wharf, an area popular with families.
Kids' menus on room service and restaurant menus
Rollaway beds are charged per night (fit in all but Superior and Bay View Rooms); fee waived for kids under 12.
Cribs are free.
Financial District location offers very little for kids.
The Financial District isn't exactly a foodie destination, but the hotel's restaurant Brasserie S&P serves gourmet cuisine using fresh California produce. It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and draws a primarily business crowd.
Brasserie S&P serves California cuisine in a modern but casual setting. The restaurant features an open dining area with floor-to-cieling windows, and a prime first-floor location at Sansome and Pine streets (hence the S&P).
The lounge offers free tea and coffee every afternoon; cocktails and light fare are available throughout the day and most evenings.
24-hour room service
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