The Perfect San Fran Family Stay
A pair of kids and a pair of parents and single room is a recipe for leaving your sanity in San Francisco—here's the perfect option.
As a travel editor I’m constantly asked where’s a good hotel to stay and San Fran is always a place people want some intel on. Over the years I think I’ve probably stayed in 25 different hotels in the Bay Area. The first hotel I ever paid for as a 22 year old was the then Four Seasons Clift (now just the Clift) to impress the girl I was travelling with (although I used an Entertainment Book coupon, which was not that smooth in retrospect). I spent my honeymoon (same girl) at the sadly departed Archbishop’s Mansions, then moved to the Hotel Triton. I’ve stayed at the polished Ritz-Carlton, all august atop Nob Hill and the dizzying and almost-perfect (and sadly just-closed) Mandarin Oriental in the Financial District. And more than a few dodgy places that I won’t go into today. They all have something special to recommend them, but the truth is, if I’m travelling with my family there is only one place that I’d aim for—The Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square.
Funnily enough, the first time I stayed there I was a little put-out that I wasn’t staying at the main Fairmont that’s on Nob Hill and closer to the action of Union Square. I’ve never been a huge fan of the North Beach neighbourhood that borders Ghiradelli Square—the tourist traps of Fisherman’s Wharf and a whole lot of faux-Italian red sauce joints. But the second I saw my room, I had the giddy feeling you get when something great unexpectedly drops in your lap. It was huge—two full bedrooms, full modern kitchen, two big bathrooms.
I haven’t stayed here in over two years, but I think about that amount of space every time I check into a standard double room with my kids. It haunts me. And the North Beach neighbourhood had gown on me—unlike Nob Hill, people actually live here and it has the amazing (and amazingly pricey) Restaurant Gary Danko just up the block and the even more amazing cheap Chubby Noodle. They were initially built as residences with full and fractional ownership so perhaps it’s not fair to compare them with purpose-built hotels, but when the rooms are only marginally more expensive than the Nob Hill Fairmont, what’s not to love? Especially given that one of the three-bedroom units in the building is on the market for $4,188,000. If that’s too rich you can purchase a 1/10 share starting at $189,000.
See our picks—including Chubby Noodle—for San Fran hot eats here.