This Historic San Francisco Hotel Just Got a Major Makeover

The Sir Francis Drake Hotel is now reborn

Beacon Grand Hotel Room

Courtesy of Beacon Grand Hotel

San Francisco's Sir Francis Drake Hotel, which shut down in March 2020 during the height of the pandemic, is being given new life.

Reopening on June 30 as the Beacon Grand Hotel, the iconic Renaissance Revival property, which inspired Allen Ginsberg's Beat poem "Howl," is joining the modern era while celebrating its historical roots and architectural grandeur.

Under the direction of hospitality design and architecture studio KKAD, all 418 guest rooms and public spaces of the 94-year-old building have been completely renovated in opulent-yet-modern design, outfitted with European Oak hardwood floors, custom-made furniture, railroad shower tile, and custom wallpaper that reflects iconic San Francisco sights. Unlike the days of yesteryear, however, modern amenities are readily available, including a pillow menu, C.O. Bigelow Aqua Mellis bath amenities, a Sealy Plus Top Mattress with Chill Technology, and luxury bedding.

Despite the contemporary additions, some original architectural features have been maintained, including three chandeliers, marble flooring, and 30-foot-high ceilings in the grand lobby and the fireplace and mantle in the Beacon Lounge.

"One's procession through the Beacon Grand is one through history, evoking the grandeur of the 1920s and '30s when hotels were 'cathedrals of travel,'" said Kraig Kalashian, managing partner and founder of KKAD, in a press release shared with TripSavvy. "There is a unique drama created by the multiple levels of public spaces and the grand staircases connecting them. Our work has focused on accentuating this drama. In addition, by removing heavy draperies, choosing paint colors that light up the spaces, and adding lighting to key areas, the extraordinary craftsmanship and rich details of the building now quite literally shine as they did when the hotel first opened."

Beacon Grand Hotel Detail

Courtesy of Beacon Grand Hotel

Located in Union Square, one of the country's most famous shopping districts, the Beacon Grand intends to restore its footing as a social hub and will feature several places for people to gather, drink, and dine.

In the Beacon Lounge, situated in the hotel's mezzanine and formerly only open for events, guests and locals are welcome any time of day to sidle up to the bar or order from a menu of classic San Francisco fare—made with a twist, of course. Diners will find dishes such as sweet pea bruschetta and The Louie (poached scallop, Moss Landing shrimp, and Monterey abalone), along with barrel-aged spirits and craft cocktails, and a top-notch selection from local wineries, breweries, and coffee roasters. Off the lounge is the speakeasy-style The Library (a throwback to Prohibition), where whiskey lovers will be attended to by a bartender slinging three-ingredient cocktails and pouring rare whiskeys.

Slated to open at the end of 2022, a French-inspired brasserie will take over Sir Francis Drake's Scala's Bistro. Chef Roland Passot, former owner of the Michelin-starred La Folie, will be at the helm, serving traditional French dishes paired with Champagne and wine. Making a comeback by early 2023 is the Starlite Room, a former SF nightlife spot that shut down in fall 2019. Now, it's getting ready to welcome back revelers to the 21st floor, with hotel and hospitality design group Bill Rooney Studio behind the fresh look.

Beacon Grand Hotel Bathroom

Courtesy of Beacon Grand Hotel

“Starlite deserves to be a quintessential San Francisco destination once again,” stated Bill Rooney. “We are so excited to be crafting the rebirth of such an iconic venue. Perched above the city, the new space will be a richly layered story of discovery and curated curiosities, allowing for diverse experiences; social around the bar or romantic and intimate in a tucked-away corner.”

In addition to new bars and restaurants, the Beacon Grand will offer innovative events, programs, and ways to engage with the city. Upon entering the hotel, guests will be greeted by Social Hosts sharing curated itineraries and insider tips to help them explore SF. Events, meanwhile, range from live music on Fridays and Saturdays to weekend brunches. The hotel has also teamed up with Kevin Barry Art Advisory to introduce a new art program; mixed media created by artists from around the world will be displayed in the guestrooms and suites, while art from local artists will be showcased in the public spaces.

Rooms at the Beacon Grand Hotel start at $274 a night.

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Beacon Grand, A Union Square Hotel

450 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
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  1. San Francisco Business Times. "Goodbye, Sir Francis Drake: Here's the new name coming to hotel's marquees, merchandise." February 18, 2022.

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This Historic San Francisco Hotel Just Got a Major Makeover