Nightly turndown service includes two free bottles of water
Free weekday car service
Daily charge for Wi-Fi feels chintzy at this price point
Very expensive valet parking
Some noise from adjoining rooms
Pool not available to guests under 16
Very limited fitness room
No minibar or coffeemaker in rooms
Atop Nob Hill, the upscale 134-room Scarlet Huntington has a classic pedigree with a new look. One of San Francisco’s old-school favorites, this property was purchased by a Singapore group that updated it in 2014 with a sexy, ritzy aesthetic heavy on lush red velvet, silk, and leather. Some of the spacious guest rooms have a new modern look, while many maintain their Old-World charm. The Nob Hill Spa is one of the most popular in the city, and the clubby Big 4 restaurant retains its classic atmosphere. Nob Hill has great city views, and the hotel is walking distance to Union Square, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Be aware, though, that any walk includes very steep hills. For true old–San Francisco elegance at the same price point, consider the nearby Fairmont San Francisco.
Posh boutique hotel with lush lobby and traditional restaurant attracting a mature clientele
Nob Hill, San Francisco's swankiest neighborhood, is home to many of its grandest hotels -- stately old buildings with cavernous marble-filled lobbies and hundreds of rooms. The elegant Scarlet Huntington blends in with these neighbors yet stands out for being intimate and unassuming. Opened in 1924 as a luxury apartment tower, the 12-story, ivy-covered brick building was converted into a hotel right after World War II. The newly reimagined lobby has striking red velvet and leather seating, tufted red velvet walls, and an eye-catching asymmetrical purple velvet couch. But it retains its travertine floors and hand-carved door. Some loyal, longtime guests find the changes off-putting, but this older crowd still patronizes the hushed Big 4 restaurant. The hotel attracts mature guests and isn’t family friendly, as reflected by the policy that forbids children under 16 from using the pool.
High up in the quiet, upscale neighborhood of Nob Hill
The Scarlet Huntington sits at the southwest edge of Nob Hill, on the corner of California and Taylor Streets. Its high perch means a grand view from nearly every floor (even the outdoor patio at the basement-level spa overlooks the tops of buildings). The downside of such great heights is the effort it takes to get up (and down) the hill. Fortunately a cable car stops at the hotel. Nob Hill is primarily residential with a few luxury hotels mixed in. Excellent local restaurants, bars, and shops are close by in North Beach and over on Russian Hill and Pacific Heights. Chinatown and Union Square are a 10-minute walk downhill and North Beach is a 13-minute walk downhill. By car it’s 10 minutes to Fisherman’s Wharf, 15 minutes to Golden Gate Park, and 15 minutes to the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a 30-minute taxi ride to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
Spacious rooms with chinoiserie aesthetic and great views but lacking in amenities
At 335 square feet, standard rooms at the Scarlet Huntington are larger than the standard San Francisco hotel room and about the same size as the entry-level rooms at higher-priced Nob Hill neighbors. Many rooms have sweeping views, either of the city and the bay beyond or of imposing Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park. Newly renovated rooms have chinoiserie-influenced decor and a bold palette, incorporating gold, fuchsia, teal, and tangerine hues. Fabrics like imitation snakeskin, leather, and satin add loads of texture. The comfortable beds have high-end linens and pillow-top mattresses, but no down duvets, a surprising absence. Rooms have 32-inch flat-screen TVs with cable and iPod docks, but no coffeemakers or minibars, just empty mini-fridges -- another surprising shortcoming. Most rooms have spacious marble bathrooms with shower/tub combos and rainfall showerheads. Two robes and luxe L’Occitane bath products are nice perks. Antiquated air-conditioning controls are hard to adjust, and Wi-Fi costs extra per day.
Excellent spa, popular and swanky Big 4 restaurant, business center, car service
The Nob Hill Spa is one of the Scarlet Huntington’s best features. The three-level space starts on the ground floor and goes underground, but even so its breezy sundeck looks down over rooftops. The spa offers a full menu of services and has an indoor infinity pool, a whirlpool, steam rooms, and saunas that are free for guests. But this spa -- including the pool -- is only open to guests 16 and over. The fitness center is a bit limited with just two treadmills, one elliptical, one bike, and a set of free weights. Named for the four tycoons who built the Central Pacific Railroad, the clubby Big 4 restaurant is a swanky affair with green leather booths, dim (some say too dim) lighting, dark wood, and railroad memorabilia. The hotel has a business center with two PCs and free internet use and printing, as well as 2,500 square feet of flexible meeting space. Daily valet parking is very expensive, and in-room Wi-Fi costs extra. There's free car service weekdays within a one-mile radius.
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