Free Wi-Fi is only free for SPG members who book directly
Some rooms have poor sound insulation
With stunning architectural design and 552 rooms on just eight floors, this upscale landmark hotel built in 1875 is aptly named. It is located near Union Square’s luxury shopping and beside a BART station, and striking features include Maxfield Parrish’s Pied Piper painting in the bar, a gold atrium ceiling in the restaurant, and glass-roofed indoor pool. Ornate designs make for a unique business setting with a business center, 24-hour gym, and market. Elegant rooms feature antique touches, stylish mid-century furnishings, and tall ceilings; some suites have parlors with fireplaces. Breakfast, valet parking, and Wi-Fi cost extra. The nearby W San Francisco has a Bliss spa and hipper atmosphere, but no pool.
San Francisco’s oldest hotel provides modern and Old-World designs.
Originally built in 1875, the Palace Hotel is an eight-floor building that wraps around the corner of Market Street. An intricate gold doorway and street access leads to the hotel’s Ghirardelli shop. When financier William Ralston opened this hotel over 100 years ago it had the unusual luxury of air-conditioning and fireplaces in every one of its 755 rooms. The original building was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and was rebuilt in 1909, maintaining the original grandeur. Today, arched doorways on Montgomery Street lead into the stunning lobby that features vintage gold chandeliers dangling from vaulted ceilings. This San Francisco landmark has over the years welcomed countless celebrities and eight U.S. presidents.
In October of 2015, the hotel completed a $40 million renovation project to bring the interiors into the 21st century. Upgrades were made to the rooms and common areas, including the Garden Court restaurant that has Austrian crystal chandeliers hanging from gold atrium ceilings. Plum-colored carpeting lines the reception area by the front desk and hallways, where there are remnants of the past like vintage mailboxes and a spiral staircase with a lovely metal banister. Guests who stay here are a mix of tourists and business travelers.
On the corner of New Montgomery and Market streets
This is a bustling location in San Francisco’s South of Market, or SoMa, district. Outside the hotel’s Market Street entrance is a BART station. Within walking distance is the Financial District, high-end shopping at Union Square, and museums: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the African Diaspora, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, among others. The walk to the Pier 1 and AT&T Park takes about 20 minutes from the hotel. Also reachable on foot is the Powell-Market Cable Car Turntable, which goes past Lombard Street to Fisherman’s Wharf which is home to Pier 39, Alcatraz tours, and the Aquarium of the Bay. A cab to Haight-Ashbury takes 20 minutes. San Francisco International Airport is a 30- to 40-minute drive.
Elegant rooms feature antique touches with mini-fridges or minibars, and suites have separate parlors.
Oak doors with antique brass knobs lead into rooms that are filled with old-world charm: 11-foot-tall ceilings, gray color schemes, white wall molding, plum-colored decor, mid-century furniture, nightstands that look like vintage luggage trunks, and large windows that -- in the best rooms -- overlook the city streets. Rooms feel spacious with 300 to 360 square feet. Every room has a 48-inch flat-screen TV, bathrobes and slippers, mini-fridge, safe, and free bottled water.
In late 2015, the hotel renovated rooms and added the Royal and State Suites, which feature marble fireplaces in parlors. One- or two-bedroom Guest Suites -- featuring 500 to 970 square feet of space -- have parlors, four-poster beds or tufted leather headboards, Keurig coffeemakers, and minibars. Most marble-floored bathrooms offer high-tech toilets with various controls, shower/tub combos and/or showers. The Presidential Suite has six rooms, antique fireplaces, a baby grand piano, and a kitchen.
Elegant dining and afternoon tea, a Ghirardelli shop, and an indoor pool
Nothing is ordinary at the Palace Hotel. That goes for the Garden Court with a seven million dollar gold glass domed ceiling and California-style cuisine, including the popular crab Benedict. Breakfast buffet is served for a fee. Afternoon tea and evening cocktails are served in the GC Lounge. Maxfield Parrish’s painting hangs over the bar in the Pied Piper Bar & Grill that serves lunch and dinner. Room service is available for those who want to eat in their room or suite. Gourmet chocolate is available in the Ghirardelli shop in the lobby, where there’s also a market that sells cold drinks, stationery, and gifts.
The heated indoor pool and hot tub are drenched in sunlight thanks to a gorgeous glass ceiling. For active travelers, the 24-hour gym offers free weights and ample modern cardio and weight machines. With elegant European flair, the hotel provides 44,000 square feet of event space, including three grand ballrooms. There’s also a full-service business center that provides shipping services, computer access, and printing. Wi-Fi is provided for free to Starwood Preferred Guest members who book directly through the website or via apps. The program is free to join, but Wi-Fi costs extra for those who don't sign up.