Review: Fairmont San Francisco

Historic charm in spades and sensational views

Fairmont San Francisco
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

One of the grandest and most historic hotels in the City by the Bay, the San Francisco Fairmont survived the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and since 1907 has served as the San Francisco residence for U.S. presidents, world leaders and stars of sports, stage and screen. Arguably its most illustrious hey day was post-World War II, when statesmen and celebrities such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nat 'King' Cole, Marlene Dietrich, Joel Grey, Bobby Short, Vic Damone, and James Brown made the Fairmont the place to see and be seen in the city.

Ernie Hecksher and his orchestra came for a limited engagement and never left, becoming the official band for the Venetian Room, which is famous as the place in which Tony Bennett first sang 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco.' For adults, having a Mai-Tai the Farimont's Pacific Rim-style Tonga Room is as much a must-do experience today as it was 50 years ago. The guest rooms and hallways of the Fairmont feature countless historical photos of past guests that create a Who's Who of influential people of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Fairmont's location in downtown San Francisco is as good as it gets, right at the top of Nob Hill at the only spot where all three of the city's cable car lines meet. The hotel is within walking distance of many wonderful restaurants and shops, and close to Fisherman's Wharf and Union Square.

There is a $13.95-per-day charge for wi-fi access at the Fairmont, and we found connectivity to be spotty and slow in the mornings and evenings when most guests are in their rooms. Valet parking at the Fairmont's garage costs $58 ($66 including tax) per night including unlimited access, which is in line with other downtown San Francisco hotels. The Fairmont offers a babysitting service, full-service spa and fitness center, and three restaurants, the most affordably priced of which is Caffe Cento. 

Best rooms: Every guest room at the Fairmont mixes Old World grandeur with a sleek, sophisticated decor and modern conveniences such as flatscreen TVs, coffee makers, and modern marble bathrooms. All 592 guest rooms and suites are luxurious and spacious, ranging from deluxe rooms to suites. Some deluxe rooms feature pullout sofas and rollaway beds are available upon request. With its wonderful location at the top of Nob Hill, the Fairmont offers truly exceptional views. Ask for a room on an upper floor facing San Francisco Bay. 

Best season: Remember Mark Twain's famous quip that the coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco? The city is beautiful year-round yet summer is generally neither the sunniest nor warmest season. Locals swear by September and October for the best all-around weather.

Visited: July 2015

Disclaimer: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes while on Adventures by Disney's San Francisco Long Weekend. While it has not influenced this review, believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

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