Fantastic central location in the heart of Union Square
Easy walk to shops, restaurants, entertainment, and public transit
Comfortable, updated rooms with attractive color scheme
Extra-large flat-screen TVs and iHome docks in all rooms
Historical building decorated with fresh, modern sensibility and fun touches
On-site restaurant/bar serving a full breakfast buffet (fee)
Fitness center with cardio and weight-lifting machines
Three sharp, well-appointed meeting rooms
Facility fee for Wi-Fi, fitness center, and lobby beverages
Breakfast and parking aren't included in rates or facility fee
Street-side rooms can pick up some outside noise
Combined restaurant/bar and reception area doesn’t invite lingering
Located in the heart of Union Square, Villa Florence is a 189-room upper-middle-range boutique hotel with chic modern design and a touch of whimsy on great historical bones. The 1908 hotel’s location, directly on the Powell Street cable car line, couldn’t be more central: It’s surrounded by shops, restaurants, theaters, and all modes of public transportation. Rooms in fresh gray, white, and magenta hues have comfortable beds, solid amenities, and smallish bathrooms with C.O. Bigelow bath products, but those overlooking Powell Street can pick up noise. A mandatory nightly facility fee covers Wi-Fi, beverages in the lobby, and use of the fitness center, but parking and breakfast cost an additional fee. For fewer fees and more amenities in the same neighborhood, consider the Handlery; it offers free Wi-Fi, and a heated outdoor pool -- a rarity in this part of town.
Stylish boutique hotel with spot-on modern decor but little buzz and nowhere to linger
Given its slam-dunk location amid the hustle and bustle of Powell Street, you’d expect Villa Florence to be humming inside as well. And while its style is on point, the buzz stops at the door. Walking in off the street, guests may wonder whether they’ve found the right entrance: The first half of the space is occupied by the long bar at the restaurant Struzzo, with the small reception area tucked beyond. A life-size stuffed ostrich and a bright orange tufted wall at reception hint at boldness and humor, but without plush seating -- or indeed any seating not at a table -- the lobby doesn't invite much lingering. The lack of a business center and the small in-room work stations may deter business travelers, and rooms are too snug for many families. That said, the solo travelers and couples who stay here place a premium on the hotel’s stylish appearance and its location close to shopping and sights.
In the epicenter of San Francisco shopping, with easy access to major attractions
Villa Florence is a block south of Union Square, famous for its hotels, high-end shops, and theaters. (Union Square is to San Francisco what 5th Avenue is to New York City.) Flagship stores for Niketown, Saks, Tiffany & Co., Macy's, Louis Vuitton, and Neiman Marcus can be found here, among others. It's not a spot that draws locals, but the square is great for people-watching, nonetheless, and it occasionally plays host to small festivals and demonstrations. Still, if shopping till you drop isn't a priority, you might prefer a neighborhood closer to the city's biggest attractions, like Nob Hill or Fisherman's Wharf. Do yourself a favor and don’t drive here; the cost of overnight parking is exorbitant, and public transportation is all close at hand. It’s only a four-minute walk to the Powell Street BART station and the historic F-line railway, and it’s an easy eight-minute walk to Chinatown, 11 minutes to Soma, and 20 minutes to North Beach. The Powell/Mason and Powell/Hyde cable car lines, with stops a minute's walk away, run north through the scenic, hilly and largely residential Russian Hill and Nob Hill neighborhoods and terminate near Fisherman's Wharf. By taxi, it's about 25 minutes to the Golden Gate Bridge and 20 minutes to Golden Gate Park, Fisherman's Wharf and ferries to Alcatraz, and the Mission. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is a 30-minute drive away.
Smart, polished rooms with comfortable beds, oversize flat-screen TVs, and iHome docks
Villa Florence’s central location is one highlight, and its stylish interior design is another -- as is evident with its guest rooms. These continue the cool vibe of the lobby, but here gray and white predominate, offset by magenta accents like prints of hot-pink roses and satin throw pillows. Tufted metallic silver headboards and gold-vein mirrored panels add a subtle '70s feel. Rooms are reasonably spacious for double occupancy (from 252 to 339 square feet), and some are sized for four guests (at 300 to 360 square feet); suites add sofa beds. Technology is a step above the norm, with 55-inch flat-screen TVs, iHome docking stations, and programmable safes in all rooms. Comforts include fully stocked minibars and coffeemakers. Beige-and-white bathrooms are bright and functional but smallish and generic. Some have showers and others have shower/tub combos; hairdryers and C.O. Bigelow bath amenities come standard. Rooms overlooking Powell Street offer cable car views but can be noisy; interior rooms are quieter but have no view.
On-site bar/restaurant, buffet breakfast, fitness center, and three meeting rooms
Facilities at Villa Florence are rather limited given the price point. Its Italian-influenced bar/restaurant Struzzo, sitting at the entrance before reception, serves as the breakfast room and offers happy-hour snacks and dinner. The buffet breakfast (not included in rates) is a nice spread, with egg tart, strata, cheeses, salami, fresh breads, house-made granola, Greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, coffee, and orange, carrot, and pineapple juices. The small fitness center on the premises is reasonably well equipped with two cross-trainers, two treadmills, free weights, and a large flat-screen TV. While there’s no business center, a computer and printer are available for guest use at a small desk in the lobby. Three well-designed meeting rooms with sleek decor and the corresponding tech can accommodate 116 people. Overnight parking is expensive but in line with other hotels in Union Square, and the cost of Wi-Fi is included in the facility fee.