San Francisco has been welcoming visitors since the Gold Rush of 1849, through the countercultural 1960s and ’70s to the present day. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong here. It’s a small city that has always punched well above its weight as a centre of both business and leisure.
These days it’s a financial capital, home to major global companies and thousands of start-ups and local businesses. The city is well versed in hosting conferences and other big events. It’s most likely you’ll be working around what is loosely known as “downtown”: the Financial District, Civic Center, Union Square up into Nob Hill or around Market Street into SoMa. If you’re working and staying downtown, you probably won’t need to use cabs during the day, which is no bad thing as the traffic, especially across the Golden Gate and East Bay bridges, gets pretty jammed at peak hour.
Be prepared for extremes: San Francisco is a town of poverty (it’s impossible to gloss over the social inequity that plagues the city and the sheer number of homeless people in these areas may be confronting) but also dive bars, big nights, great food, opulence – and really, really steep hills. Here’s where to check in.
St Regis San Francisco
St Regis inserted itself into the heart of San Francisco in 2005 when it opened St Regis Museum Tower in the centre of the city’s arts and cultural precinct. The hotel, which incorporates the Museum of the African Diaspora, is next to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) and across the road from the Yerba Buena Gardens and the Moscone Center. Fortune magazine dubbed the building “the tower of power” because of its influential tenants (including former vice-president Al Gore and talent agent Michael Ovitz).
Business facilities The St Regis has a 24-hour business centre and meeting rooms of all sizes so it can host major events. Standard wi-fi is complimentary but you pay
for high-speed internet.
Food and wine The hotel’s one-Michelin-starred dinner restaurant, Ame, is exceptional. Breakfast and lunch are served at Vitrine, which offers a menu based on fresh local ingredients. Both venues provide a refined atmosphere for entertaining.
Fitness and wellbeing There’s a fitness centre, yoga studio, spa and 15-metre lap pool (open 24 hours).
Run route Head south-east along 3rd Street to AT&T Park, turn left onto the Embarcadero and move down onto the San Francisco Bay Trail shortly thereafter. Stop for a coffee at the Ferry Building then return to the hotel by Mission Street for a 4.5-kilometre run.
Hotel Zetta has San Francisco’s cultural, entrepreneurial and tech-savvy communities in its sights. The art and décor reflect the hotel’s focus on fusing local and recycled materials with technology while still looking sharp. You’ll notice this the moment you step through the door, past the hotel dog (a sculpture made from recycled machine parts), and look across to the “Alcatraz wall”, the lobby’s backlit laminated glass montage created from the mugshots of prisoners held captive on that infamous island. A games room overlooking the lobby features pool and ping-pong tables, giant Jenga and multiple game consoles. If you need a casual meeting point before heading out, try the terrific lobby bar.
Business facilities The Lumen room suits conferences and the Demo room is perfect for press launches and product pitches, while the Playroom is designed for brainstorming sessions. All three spaces have built-in audiovisual facilities, corkboard walls and whiteboards. Wi-fi Complimentary but you pay a fee if you have multiple devices or need high-speed internet.
Food and wine As well as British-style brasserie The Cavalier, be sure to pop into S&R Lounge. Short for “salvage and rescue”, the bar serves inventive cocktails such as smoked Manhattans.
Fitness and wellbeing There’s a 24-hour fitness centre and guests can also use the Burke Williams day spa next door.
Run route If you have half an hour, head south-east along 5th and then onto 4th Street through industrial SoMa. After the 4th Street Bridge, turn right onto Channel Street, running with parklands to your left and charming houseboats to your right. It’s 2.5 kilometres when you reach the overpass.
This centrally located hotel has an atmosphere of elegance that belies the buzz going on outside its doors. The lobby is cool and dimly lit; the lively restaurant and bar hark back to an older San Francisco; and the guestrooms are large, light and well appointed, with views across the city to Chinatown. Ultimately, it’s the service that distinguishes this hotel and there’s little the staff won’t do, from organising a day of golf for guests and their clients to guided excursions, event management and even group dinners off site.
Business facilities The hotel offers 24-hour business services, a business centre and an airline boarding-pass and check-in kiosk. High-speed internet access is available in its many meeting areas and function rooms. Standard wi-fi is complimentary but you pay for premium internet services.
Food and wine With its brass detailing, dark oak floors and leather accents, MKT Restaurant-Bar is a shout-out to the printing presses of Market Street. The menu focuses on local produce, with meat sourced from top ranchers, so this is the place for a good steak and a great range of Californian beers and wines.
If you’re doing business and need some privacy, the Private Den (to one side of the bar) can be booked for dinner or a small party.
Fitness and wellbeing Guests get free access to the well-equipped Equinox Sports Club adjacent to the hotel.
Run route Take off down Market Street to the Ferry Building then turn left and run along the Embarcadero until you reach the Exploratorium museum. Cut back to the hotel via Green and Battery streets for a four-kilometre round trip.
The 100-year-old Clift is one of San Francisco’s oldest hotels. In 2001, it was given a Philippe Starck redesign and the results are other-worldly. The walls in the hallways and stairways are painted lavender, while the furniture throughout the hotel
is lavish and playful – the lobby features chairs from Ray and Charles Eames, a Salvador Dalí coffee table and a surreal stool by René Margritte. The very comfortable and handsome Living Room – situated to one side of the lobby and curated by Ralph Lauren – is suitable for quick, casual client meetings and catch-ups.
Business facilities Fully equipped meeting rooms and boardrooms – all with technical support and audiovisual equipment – can be found on the first floor of
the hotel. Wi-fi complimentary with the Tech Savvy package, which includes a free flash drive, a cocktail in the Redwood Room and a shirt pressing.
Food and wine You can have breakfast in the Velvet Room or eat and drink throughout the day in the breathtaking Redwood Room, which is covered in Art Deco timber panelling said to come from a single redwood tree. It’s popular so booking a private table is a good idea if you’re holding a meeting there.
Fitness and wellbeing The Clift has a 24-hour fitness centre and complimentary bikes for guests.
Run route You need to be ready for some serious hills to run from here, although the views are worth it. Turn right out the front of the hotel then left up Mason Street. Head up and over California Street, turning right towards North Beach along Vallejo for three blocks. Take a left along Grant Avenue for another three blocks then right on Filbert Street and up the stairs to the top of Coit Tower. The round trip is about 4.5 kilometres.