When Vernon Morales and Boris Portnoy’s Winterland closed down a couple of years ago, we worried that the city was no place for an experimental chef (it was one of the city’s most experimental kitchens and loved by the industry, but unfortunately not loved by a certain close-minded critic). But Boris Portnoy has successfully resurfaced at Campton Place, where he runs the pastry program with a little help from Matt Tinder, formerly of Brick. Before he left last fall, Peter Rudolph carried the experimental torch in the savory arena, with unusual and clever flavor combinations, textures, and presentations.
Gorgonzola Popovers with Pear Saffron Pearls, Toast, and Honey Sorbet
Carrot and Coconut Ravioli with Avocado Semi-Freddo and Spiced Tangerine Sorbet
The Palace Hotel has classic hotel glam and comfort, plus a beautiful pool, a great workout room, and a stately events space that’s great for a party. There are a variety of dining options, and Chef Jesse Llapitan serves fun, accessible food (sit in the atrium and have some duck confit mac n’ cheese), plus the Ferry Plaza market is just a few blocks away.
An old school glam (high ceilings, marble, wood, and gold) lobby gives way to nicely modern rooms in this hotel located smack-dab on Union Square. Rooms are plush and comfortable, decorated with dark wood furniture. Half of the two towered building has been re-done – the aforementioned modern rooms are in the newer half; the old style is evident in the private event rooms, which are ornately decorated with mirrors, patterned carpets, and gold. The hotel offers some great dining options – a full-service restaurant, plus Michael Mina conveniently located right above the lobby.
A stay at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco offers the ultimate in luxury; the rooms are situated high above the city, in the top 11 floors of the 48-floor building, and the dramatic city views are an incredible way to take it all in. Inside you’ll find a number of distinct touches, including spacious rooms with plush goose down bedding, complimentary bottled water, and Molton Brown bath products (ahhhh...). For dining options, Chef Adam Mali makes some of our favorite brunch dishes at the hotel’s Brasserie S&P—tangy Dungeness Crab Louis or bright pickled herring with crispy rye bread—while Mixologist Priscilla Young creates the perfect in-room experience with her DIY gin & tonic set, complete with a mini bottle of local distillery St. George gin.
Kensington Park provides fantastic quality and location (Union Square) for the price. Rooms are small but the beds are great, and Mark Franz’s seafood restaurant, Farallon, is downstairs. The restaurant is known for its wild, sweeping design and expansive selection of the coast’s best fish, crustaceans and bivalves.
Hotel Rex is a small, cozy boutique hotel one block from Union Square. The 94 rooms are cozy and bright, with eclectic decorations. Prices are super reasonable for the location, and include a daily free glass of wine at Café Andree between 5-6pm.
Down the hill from Union Square and headed towards Ferry Plaza, with ample meeting space and business rooms and simple, unobtrusive room design, Hotel Nikko caters to conventions and travelers looking for a great location for a decent price.
The plain façade of LEED-certified Bardessono is deceiving; inside is a luxury hotel with a serious focus on community and sustainability. The design is stark, but also sleek and beautiful with a certain yogic calm. Vertical gardens can be found throughout the property, and single rocks wade in ponds, lending a Japanese feel. They Bardessono goes beyond composting food waste and recycling: they don’t have a single piece of plastic in the guest rooms, there are no paper bills, and there are no curtains (instead they have electric, external shades that come down automatically depending on time of day and temperature). There’s not a single rug in the complex in order to reduce and prevent allergens. put 300-count organic linens on the beds, and rather than a chocolate on your pillow they have a flavored chef’s water awaiting you in a reusable glass milk bottle. Bardessono also has all the amenities of a luxury hotel, including an outdoor rooftop swimming pool, spa services, organic bath products, and a restaurant led by Chef Sean O’Toole.
Set amongst 27 acres of vineyards and farmland, The Carneros Inn is a luxury resort with a country feel. This is a modern complex that has been planned in a grid, but it has a spacious, friendly feel. There are various size cottages, like studios and one-bedrooms that are all slightly different; some boast a porch while others have backyards. There are two infinity-edge pools with hot tubs (one is adults-only while the other welcomes families), full spa services, a bocce court, fitness classes, complimentary bicycles, an upscale general store, and three restaurants to choose from. Use the complimentary concierge service to plan activities from horseback riding to wine tastings.
Whether you stay in a studio room or a suite, you’re guaranteed luxury at Meadowood Hotel. It’s ideally situated to explore Wine Country and is comfortable for long stays (we felt as though we never wanted to leave). Started as a private club in 1964, Meadowood was purchased in 1979 and turned into the hotel and resort that it is today. The white-washed cottages are reminiscent of Nantucket, except they are tucked into the woods instead of the beach. Croquet, tennis, golf, hiking, and swimming are all at your fingertips in the sprawling 250-acre valley where Meadowood is located. Paths meander through hills and forests, and you could get lost wandering around the sprawling property. Fix the damage winter (and long hours in the kitchen) have done to your skin at the spa, where you can indulge in body wraps, exfoliation, and massages. Rising Star Chef Christopher Kostow cooks seasonal, creative food that is worth the stay (and the trip) alone.
Honor Mansion is a magnificent bed and breakfast owned by a husband and wife team who purchased the Honor Estate from Dr. Honor 15 years ago and then renovated it. Somewhere between a B&B and a resort (they wanted to create an "un-B&B" and break all the rules), the Honor Mansion offers all the amenities of a luxury hotel in an intimate setting. The rooms are self-contained suites with beautiful stonework done by the owners. Each suite has a private garden, hot tub, fireplace, and sunken tub. Old World games, like croquet and bocce ball, are available, as well as basketball, tennis, swimming, golf, and jogging trails. There is a connecting vineyard as well as a vegetable garden and a rose garden. In the morning we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of Grand Marnier Stuffed French Toast with fresh fruit bellinis.
At The Lodge at Sonoma, a Marriot property, guests have a choice between cottage and lodge rooms. Most rooms have queen or king beds, a fireplace, and a balcony. There is a wellness center, a spa, and a large, inviting outdoor pool. Grab a glass of wine and a snack at the Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar or relax with a cup of Joe in the fireside coffee bar. Or visit the Cellar Door Tasting Room, where small, family wineries pour samples of their small-production wines for you to taste.
On your way to Napa and Sonoma, make a stop at the Coloma Country Inn, a small bed and breakfast located on two and a half acres of land. The rooms are all named after flowers: We stayed in the Rose Room, where the sheets and wallpaper were decorated with roses and there was a private patio garden full of roses. The décor is shabby chic and rooms have clawfoot tubs. It is located in Coloma, where the first gold in the US was mined. Everything in the town centers around gold--the state park, museums, gold tours, you name it. It also happens to be the center of white water rafting for the South Fork of the American Rive
This luxury hotel combines the convenience of a city hotel with the recreational features of a resort. You’ll experience top-notch service throughout the property, including poolside, where you can lounge around or take a dip in the ample swimming pool. For the more athletically inclined, there are tennis courts and a gym with sauna and steam room. While you’re there, make a reservation for dinner at Jer-Ne, where you’ll be treated to Chef Troy N. Thompson’s exquisite Asian-inspired cuisine.
Located right on the beach, Shutters is a fun, kid-friendly hotel that bustles with energy. Rooms are cozy with white wood finishes resembling a Cape Cod cottage. Shutter doors open out onto the terrace affording breathtaking views of the ocean. The hotel offers two restaurants, Pedals Café – a casual spot overlooking the bike path - and One Pico – the hotel’s signature restaurant featuring contemporary American cuisine.
Conveniently located right on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, the stylish Andaz is great as a base for travel to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Downtown. The boutique hotel has lots of modern touches like motion sensitive bathroom lights and ipod docks in the gyms’s cardio equipment. There is no front desk; instead the helpful hotel staff come to you and check in with a laptop. The rooms are stocked with complementary snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, morning coffee and pastry is available in the lobby, and they offer wine to guests in the lobby after 5pm. A sexy rooftop lounge and pool area offers panaramic views of the city. In the hotel’s RH Restaurant Chef Sebastien Archambault cooks food inspired by his homeland of France, like the decadent Perigourdine-Poached Egg with Field Mushrooms, Foie Gras, and Summer Truffle.
The Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows is an oasis where guests can get away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles or venture out into quiet, walkable Santa Monica. Located on the corner of Wilshire and Ocean, the luxury hotel is across the street from the ocean and a quick stroll to the bustling Third Street Promenade. The villas that surround the stunning pool are well appointed with luxury linens and amenities and offer private patios adjoining each room. Visit the highly rated Exhale Spa to relax in the steam room and sauna, choose from a range of spa therapies, or take a fitness class like yoga or the challenging Core Fusion. Have a glass of wine in the stylish lobby bar or grab a bite at Fig, where 2010 Rising Star Sustainability Chef Ray Garcia cooks creative food with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce and sustainable meat and seafood. 2006 Rising Star Chef Sean Hardy is now the GM of the hotel, and brings his background in food and beverage to the expert managing of the property. The staff at Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows are incredibly welcoming and helpful and are quick to do anything that will make your stay more pleasant.
The Hotel Oceana features stylish suites right across from the beach. The stylish swimming pool and lounge area sit in the center of the hotel and act as the central communal area. The large rooms are homey and very comfortable with a separate living room complete with couch, coffee table, and desk. The hotel’s restaurant, Ocean Lounge is located just off the pool and provides guests with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. German-born Chef Joseph Feldman prepares a range of dishes, from an elegant Fig Canape with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction to bistro classics like Steak Frites.
Although the Luxe Hotel Sunset Boulevard is situated in the city between Brentwood and Bel-Air, the seven acres of property it sits on make it easy to forget all that. With an outdoor heated swimming pool, tennis court, spa, and fitness center, guests don’t have to leave the hotel unless they want to. The 160 spacious guest rooms are smartly decorated and fitted with luxury linens and amenities.
Situated on a cliff overlooking 30 acres of beach and the Pacific Ocean, Montage Laguna Beach is a luxury resort with high end amenities. The feathertop beds have 400-thread count bed linens and goose down pillows, and the rooms have ocean-view balconies and oversized bathtubs. A large pool sits at the center of the complex and the hotel boasts a world class spa and state of the art fitness center. Chef Craig Strong is at the head of the fine dining restaurant, Studio, located on the hotel grounds.
Tucked away amidst the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in Del Mar, the palatial Grand Del Mar is a luxury resort that combines old-world charm with modern elegance. The hotel has only been open since 2007 but has already received numerous praise and accolades, including the AAA Five Diamond Award. The Grand Del Mar offers complimentary fitness classes, transportation within 14 miles, and wireless internet in each room. The hotel places as much emphasis on being environmentally friendly (they maintain wetland areas, have a resort-wide recycling program, and turn green waste into mulch) as they do on providing a luxury experience (they offer a world-class spa and stunning pool). One of the biggest draws of the hotel, though, is Addison, the five-star restaurant where 2010 Rising Star Chef William Bradley and Rising Star Sommelier Jesse Rodriguez are an unstoppable duo, working together to give guests the best food and wine experience possible.
Staying at the Hotel del Coronado is like going back in time. The iconic hotel is a Coronado landmark that was built in 1888 and has retained its classic architecture, while the rooms have received makeovers to give them modern, luxury touches. The Hotel del Coronado may be most recognized for its starring role in the 1958 Marilyn Monroe film, Some Like It Hot, which was filmed on site. Today, that classic feel remains with old-fashioned elevators that are manually operated by uniformed bellmen, dark wood walls in the lobby, and those easily identifiable red turrets. In the winter time a massive Christmas tree decorates the lobby and an ice skating rink is set up right on the beach. There is also a swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and shopping area for guests to enjoy. The restaurants at the hotel are some of Coronado’s best, including 1500 Ocean where Chef Brian Sinnott cooks Italian-inspired California cuisine.
Guests enter the Sé San Diego through the dramatic, massive bronze pivot door into a chic lobby with cushioned lounges and lamps suspended from the ceiling that resemble jellyfish. There are other fun decorative touches: objects (including lamps and the front desk) covered in stingray skin, a sand dollar motif, and ceramic fins. The comfortable rooms have floor to ceiling windows, plush beds, and luxury amenities. A rooftop pool doubles as a hip bar and lounge in the evening. Complementary coffee is offered in the hotel lobby each morning, or guests can take breakfast in the hotel restaurant, Suite and Tender.
Tower 23 Hotel is a luxury hotel situated right on the beach (the name comes from lifeguard tower 23, which is near the hotel). Conveniently located between La Jolla and downtown San Diego, the hotel is perfectly situated to explore either both beach communities and urban centers. The guest rooms are sleek with a minimalist aesthetic, modern furniture, and private balconies. Bathrooms feature chromatherapy bathtubs, step in rain showers, and Egyptian cotton bath towels. And be sure to stop by JRDN to check out Chef David Warner’s market-driven cuisine.
Located right in the heart of historic, touristy Ghiradelli Square, The Fairmont Heritage Place offers one, two, and three bedroom residences with all the comforts of home. Appointed with luxury bedding and amenities, a working fire place in the living room, in-room washer and dryer, and a full kitchen it’s easy to imagine a chef spending extended stays here. The communal patio is a lovely place to sit around the fire pit with a glass of wine and observe the happenings of the square just below. And for those who just can’t tear themselves away, The Fairmont Heritage Place is also a private residence club with ownership options.
Situated in Nob Hill, just blocks away from San Francisco’s lively Chinatown is The Fairmont Luxury Hotel & Resort. Construction on the now historic hotel was completed amidst the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 and soon became home to debutant balls and was the hub of Bay Area socialite activities; more recently the property served as the set of the popular 1980s television series Hotel. Today the hotel is as sophisticated and elegant as ever with breathtaking chandeliers in the lobby and Jacuzzi tubs in the luxurious rooms. For a fun and unusual dining experience check out the scene at the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar, where Chef Marc Passetti's Pacific Rim cuisine fits the faux thunderstorms that rain down in the middle of the tiki-themed dining room.
The Galleria Park Hotel is a fun and funky Joie de Vivre property with a hip, young vibe. Brightly colored velvet couches sit on a vibrant print rug in the lobby and the rooms have lime green walls. Located right near Union Square and just blocks away from the Metro, the location can’t be beat. Grab a cocktail in the bustling downstairs bar of Midi or head upstairs to the chic dining room for a bite. Chef Michelle Mah prepares simple, tasty food like a roasted beet salad with feta.
Located blocks away from Union Square and dead in the center of San Francisco’s downtown, Hotel Vertigo is a great budget option. The stylish lobby is decorated with orange sofas and curtains, white plaster statues of animals, and large wood coffee tables in natural forms. The rooms are decorated in a similar fashion with orange leather chairs and modern furniture. Complementary wireless Internet, access to a nearby fitness club, and iPod docks round out the experience.
An East Bay institution since 1915, The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa is a classic, historic property that looks like something out of an old movie with white flagged turrets and a palm tree-studded pool. The fitness center is just past the multiple tennis courts and before the three outdoor pools and offers complimentary fitness classes to guests as well as full use of the modern equipment. There are multiple dining options, all headed by 2010 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Hotel Chef Josh Thomsen. For a special occasion (or no occasion, as Thomsen says) Meritage is the spot and Paragon Bar & Café is a favorite among locals to grab a bite and a drink and watch the sunset.
First opened in 1910, the historic Hotel Shattuck Plaza underwent renovations several years ago, making it one of the more popular boutique hotels in the East Bay today. And as Berkeley and Oakland continue to expand into dining destinations in their own right, its an ideal place to stay across the Bay—the Metro is just around the corner, Berkeley’s theater district is nearby, and downtown San Francisco is only a 25 minute drive away. The modern rooms come equipped with flat-screen TVs, an in-room coffee maker, complimentary wireless Internet, and luxury amenities. And the hotel’s chic restaurant FIVE is helmed by Chef Banks White, who serves a menu of updated American classics.
From the deluxe rooms to the 1,900-square-foot villas, everything about the Rosewood Sand Hill Resort oozes luxury. Situated amid 16 acres in Silicon Valley, the property itself is stunning, with California ranch architecture, sweeping views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, lush courtyards, and tempting cabanas and pools. Inside the hotel’s main lodge, you’ll find an inviting Rococo-style lounge, a popular nighttime gathering place for locals, as well as Chef Peter Rudolph’s Michelin-starred Madera restaurant. The resort-style lodgings offer furnished private balconies, separate rain shower and marble bathtubs, walk-in closets, and Italian Rivolta Carmignani bed linens.
Most of the rooms at Cavallo Point—whether they’re historic or contemporary—have stunning views of the San Francisco Bay or Golden Gate Bridge. Luxury is putting it mildly. If there’s a chill in the air, you can settle down in front of your own in-room fireplace. Organic linens make for a luxe (and sustainability conscious) night’s sleep. Some rooms are set aside for dog owners, so Fido can enjoy the views too. Historic rooms are set inside former army post Fort Baker.
Every city visitor should take a peak inside the majestic Clift Hotel’s lobby. Located just above Union Square’s shopping district, and designed by Philippe Starck, the soaring lobby contains an acclaimed furniture collection complete with chairs from Ray and Charles Eames, a coffee table by Salvador Dali, a surreal stool by Renee Marguerite , and a custom-made sculpture by William Sawaya. Overnight guests won’t be disappointed, either—the artistic wonderland continues inside the hotel’s sweeping rooms. The colorful purple-accented bedrooms host their own funky Starck furniture, luxurious king size beds, and Malin + Goetz bath amenities.
The San Francisco branch of this elegant hotel group lives up to its reputation. Tucked into an alley behind Market Street, it offers proximity to Union Square, the Westfield Shopping Center, and the Embarcadero. A chandelier-clad lobby greets visitors, setting the tone for graceful rooms complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, marble baths with deep tubs, and complimentary newspapers. And the hotel’s Seasons restaurant, run by Chef Mark Richardson, provides sweeping views of the city alongside a menu packed with famers market finds.
The award-winning Hotel Monaco was recently updated and is now outfitted with modernized, Moroccan-inspired rooms: bright blues offset ethnic prints, metal accents, and woodwork furnishings, and sweeping canopy beds fill the rooms. The enormous marble bathroom offers a relaxing Jacuzzi tub, C.O. Bigelow bath products, and cozy robes. An inviting lobby encourages guests to leave these comforts for a morning coffee and tea reception (including a tempting hot chocolate spread) and the complimentary evening wine hour. For more filling options, Chef Alicia Jenish is bringing fresh perspective to the property’s historic Grand Café with a variety of whole animal preparations and updated classics, including her delicious goat mixed grill.
Experience a taste of old San Francisco in one of the city’s more refined hotels, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins. Perched atop of Nob Hill, this elegant hotel still houses the same grandeur as it did during its opening in 1926. A decadent lobby shows off gilded mirrors, chandeliers, and opulent décor. The neoclassical designed rooms feature magnificent views of the city, along with rich wooden furniture, spa tubs, and Frette bathrobes. To catch even more of the city, guests can enjoy the hotel’s sky lounge, Top of the Mark, where panoramic views are on daily display for breakfast, lunch, and cocktails.
As the first LEED-EB certified hotel in the city, The Orchard Hotel offers travelers an eco-conscious, “green” experience, along with a location central to both Union Square’s shopping district and the culinary charms of Nob Hill. The hotel’s interior features sustainably harvested wood and low-emission paint. Along with those touches, the rooms are large and organic bath products are offered with loving care. The lobby’s Daffodil Restaurant offers simple, comforting options, with Kitchen Manager Linus Lee’s take on California’s organic produce.
Like most impressive Omni properties, the San Francisco location offers luxury rooms, top-notch service, and modern amenities. A grandiose lobby welcomes guests with chandeliers and old-school charm; the stately rooms include plush bedding, roomy marble bathrooms, and Omni bath products. The ideal downtown location puts travelers a step away from a cable car ride and Union Square shopping, and the Financial District and Embarcadero are all a short walk away.
A refreshing change from the corporate lodgings of downtown San Francisco, the W Hotel San Francisco exudes cool. The loungey three-story first floor houses the popular nightlife spot Upstairs Drink Boutique and the hotel’s restaurant Trace, where Chefs Paul Piscopo and Alaun Grimaud offer a menu of seasonal, local produce. Located in the heart of the SoMa district, the hotel neighbors with the Museum of Modern Art and Yerba Buena Gardens, and is a short walk away from Union Square’s shops, the Financial District, or the Embarcadero waterfront. Inside amidst the modern, funky décor of the rooms, you’ll find Bliss bath products, a 32-inch flat screen plasma TV, an Apple iPod docking station, and fun touches like Chinese checkers. Guests can also unwind with a dip in the outdoor heated lap pool.
The chic and modern Hotel Diva is located in the hub of San Francisco’s Union Square surrounded by shopping, theaters, and blocks away from the Moscone Convention Center, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero. Upon arrival, stroll past the diva sidewalk of fame—featuring signatures of celebrity guests—and into the modern yet, sophisticated lobby. Sexy custom shades and stainless steel sculpted headboards set the stage in your room, for your own diva experience. Guests can take advantage of the artist-designed diva lounges, 24-hour fitness center, newly remodeled business center and Starbucks located just off the lobby. Before hitting the nearby theaters and nightclubs, indulge in authentic Central Mexican tapas at the Colibrí Restaurant, located in the lobby. Hotel Diva promises a stylish and diva-worthy experience during your stay in San Francisco.
Nestled in the cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn offers spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and over 100-acres of lush, verdant mountains. Constructed in 1992, the Inn was designed by visionary architect Mickey Muennig and has since become a premier award-winning luxury hotel. The building’s design incorporates its structures into the natural landscape, creating a peaceful, synergetic relationship that promotes relaxation and reconnection with the natural environment. Its inspired rooms offer tree-level balconies above vibrant mountain ranges, coastal views with warm Pacific sunsets, and even free standing structures built directly into the tree line for an intimate organic experience.