One month ago, I showed up wiped out, dehydrated, and disheveled to the brand-new Kimpton Alton Hotel at the very top of Jones Street.
I’d left a cabin in Alaska at 3:30 a.m. that morning to drive five hours to get to a flight to Seattle to get to a flight to San Francisco to get an Uber into town. And I knew that in the morning, I needed to be in North Beach — so I cut out the middleman and headed straight to the Alton, in perhaps my preferred location in all of San Francisco: directly across the street from the Codmother.
I apologized to the woman who checked me in for looking like I had just emerged from an extended trip in the forest, which was in fact true. Then I went to my room and saw the gorgeous, editorial-ready bathtub and a yoga mat stowed in the closet, and a giant television, and a hand-held steamer, and a view, just about, of the Codmother.
For a person who had just returned from the forest and really, really loves fish and chips from a food truck, this moment might actually have been the highlight of my five-day trip to Alaska.
There’s something Cinderella-ish about a hotel stay close to home: Check in as one person, emerge as someone else (or at least someone who is now clean, rested and hydrated). It’s like your house, just possibly fancier around the edges (see: the Victrola record player in the room and work by Hayley Sheldon in the lobby). Before my morning meeting, I wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf like a tourist, dodged actual tourists on Segways and just spent a minute happy to spend a minute in a singularly beautiful place, which would absolutely not have happened if I’d walked up to North Beach from the Powell Street BART.
More new in-town hotels:
Four Seasons Embarcadero, Embarcadero
Just up Market Street from the Four Seasons’ longstanding S.F. location, the Four Seasons Embarcadero occupies the top 11 floors of the 48-story California Center at 345 California Street — which means best-ever views of the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower, the Golden Gate and everything in between. If you’ll be there for a minute, sign up for a “photo adventure” with photographer Adam Jacobs, who’ll refresh your technique, send you off on your own and evaluate the images you bring back.
Hotel Caza, Fisherman’s Wharf
If you want a break from your house but don’t want to leave your dog at home (an extremely serious predicament), the three-month-old Hotel Caza is your best bet, offering packages for “the *entire* family” inclusive of plastic bags for cleaning up during a walk. Kids, meanwhile, will hopefully get a kick out of the historic ships at the Maritime National Historic Park, just a couple blocks away.
Moxy Downtown Oakland, Uptown Oakland
Things have improved in Oakland since your correspondent’s first overnight stay there — at a $39-a-night motel in Jack London Square. For proof, consider the Moxy, which opened in April and is 100 percent as cool as it’s possible for a Marriott to be, given the killer Telegraph Avenue location and La Palabra, the on-site restaurant helmed by the same team as Caña. If you’re going to a show at the Fox (which will reopen fully in September), it actually makes more sense to stay here than Uber home.
Flamingo Resort, Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa’s my favorite destination north of Marin and south of Portland — and now its midcentury modern-inspired Flamingo has just reopened (as of June 1) following a multimillion-dollar renovation. You’ll see the fruits of that work in the multiple pool spaces (with occasional poolside DJ sets), the spa and the rekitted rooms, plus some extensive wellness programming, including a “Second Sunday” series of experiences — in August, it’s “Tuning into Your Intuition Cacao & Drum Ceremony.”
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