- No family-oriented amenities
- Area is dead at night
- Fee for in-room Wi-Fi (but free in lobby)
Sleek and high-style chain hotel
Starwood's W franchise is a brand intent on bringing a hip, hyper-sleek boutique approach to the masses. In the years since the San Francisco outpost opened its doors in the arts district of SoMa, the 404-room property has shaken off some of its clubby, too-cool pedigree and taken on a more laid-back Californian vibe. Of course, calculated trendiness is still very much at play here, from the subtle, seasonal fragrances that infuse the lobby and elevators to the well-curated indie-pop tunes that pump throughout the public spaces. The mood-lit Living Room bar is a hot spot for guests chatting on cell phones and typing furiously on laptops (presumably availing themselves of the Wi-Fi, which is free in the lobby, but not in the rooms). The three-story space houses a working fireplace and a 27-foot LED light sculpture, made from surfboard resin, glitter, and fiber-optic strands.
Room style is in the same playful, design-conscious vein. The signature, pillow-topped W beds -- accompanied by goose-down duvets and an optional and extensive pillow menu -- are excellent, and the big bathrooms come with a six-piece set of Bliss toiletries (Bliss Spa is located on the hotel's 4th floor).
If it's boutique character you're after, there are plenty of other options available at every price point, from the budget-friendly GOOD Hotel to the pricier Clift or Hotel Triton in the nearby Union Square area.
This corner of San Fransisco's SoMa arts district is quiet by day and barren at night
Smack dab in the middle of the SoMa arts district, the W is a culture vulture's dream. It shares a block with the SFMoMA and is a five-minute walk from the Museum of the African Diaspora and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It's across the street from the Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center and Gardens and catty-corner from Moscone Convention Center.
The neighboring blocks were until recently derelict buildings but, despite the economic downturn, have seen a profusion of new high-rises condos and corporate offices within a four-block radius. They're now (somewhat sparsely) populated with tourists, students from the nearby Academy of Arts University, and area desk jockeys during the day -- but on weeknights it's a ghost town. Thirsty revelers willing to hoof it a bit will find a suitable array of nightlife options -- including the rock bar New Wave City and gallery-cum-club 111 Minna.
Bright and cheery rooms with fun-loving, mod-leaning style
As to be expected, the airy, light-filled rooms score pretty high on the style scale, with fun design touches like cloud-shaped mirror decals, neon green accent walls, shadeless hourglass-form chrome lamps, and colorful throw pillows illustrated with San Francisco scenes. Decor aside, the rooms also don some really great features: enormous desks, 32-inch plasma flat-screen HDTVs with on-demand movies and Sony DVD players, iPod Shuffles (some lucky guests might get a Tivoli radio in their room), Keurig coffeemakers, feather-topped beds, and cotton waffle-weave robes, to name a few. Some rooms have cushy electric-blue day beds/window seats, and views of the SoMa district and Bay Bridge. Comprehensive minibars offer everything from Kind bars and Pop chips to red wine and whiskey to ear buds and intimacy kits. A DVD lending library is available through the hotel's Whatever/Whenever concierge service.
Signature W beds are firm but comfy and boast fluffy goose-down comforters and an exhaustive array of pillow options via the trademark Pillow Menu (which offers a choice of body pillow, neckroll, firm foam PrimaLoft, or 100 percent down feather pillows). They claim to have 350-thread-count sheets; unfortunately, they felt pretty rough on the skin and appeared to have ink stains on them. Bathrooms have cream-colored tile walls and floors, cloudy green-glass countertops, shower/tub combos, and sets of six Bliss bath products. There is a daily charge for Wi-Fi in the rooms (which is free in the lobby and Living Room bar).
A laundry-list of hip amenities is not without a few flaws, but is generally impressive
The moody Living Room bar is a chic environment for drinking, people-watching, and taking advantage of free Wi-Fi (which costs a fee in the rooms). The 24-hour gym, FIT, was renovated in 2014 and is housed in a sleek, spaceship-like space. Modern cardio and strength training machines are under an overhead skylight and color-changing light fixtures are designed to amp up workouts, but some guests gripe about the gym's lack of Wi-Fi. FIT is free, and yoga and Pilates classes and personal-training sessions can be arranged for a fee. The look and feel of the 4th-floor, 5,000-square-foot Bliss Spa -- which has garnered local awards -- seems disproportionately stale compared to the futuristic-looking gym. Guest rooms all come with the Bliss Spa menu, but it's wise to plan ahead and book a treatment in advance, as the hotel's BIP (Bliss Important Person) service doesn't guarantee you'll nab an appointment.
Trace, the hotel's upscale eatery, is influenced by the sustainability movement and focused on bringing locally sourced food to the table. Its breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch menus are based in part on seasonal availability. If that makes you envision a simple farm-to-table spot with a charmingly rustic atmosphere, scratch that. Decor-wise, Trace is true to the W brand, with gray carpeting, black-and-purple walls, and contemporary furniture. The Living Room's award-winning wine list features over 200 organic or biodynamic wines, and all coffee served is organic. 24-hour room service is available.
When guests with pets check in, the hotel's P.A.W. (Pets Are Welcome) pet concierge provides a pet toy, treat, W Hotels pet tag, bags, and a pamphlet detailing pet-related services (like dog-sitting and grooming). In the rooms, pet owners will find a bed and bowls for food and water; pets also receive turndown treats.
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