Hotel Zelos, the former Kimpton Palomar, has a great location in the heart of San Francisco with easy access to the city. Stylish rooms, friendly service and a nice restaurant and gym offer a good base to explore the city. If you can snatch a good deal, Hotel Zelos can be great value, but prices can go sky high. Check out my detailed review and photos to see if it’s right for your visit to San Francisco!
Location: Hotel Zelos has a great location in the heart of San Francisco, on 4th Street and Market, just 2 minutes form the Powell Street BART/Muni station. You can easily walk to all the downtown shopping from the SF mall to Union Square and have countless bars and restaurants to choose from. With BART, Muni and the Cable Car you have easy access to all of San Francisco and the Bay Area by train, making this one of the best locations for visitors to the city! The ride to the airport by train or taxi is about 30 minutes.
Service: We received a friendly welcome from the front desk staff. I had requested an early check-in as we arrived in the morning on a long flight and we were able to check in around noon already. The staff clarified our rate as well as the hotel amenities at check-in and answered any question we had. The Zelos has bell staff to assist with luggage as needed.
Housekeeping did a nice job preparing the room and cleaning each day, leaving it clean, all in working condition and replacing towels and amenities as appropriate.
At check-out, we had an issue with a charge for an included amenity, but it was resolved quickly and to our satisfaction.
Room: We had booked a standard King Room and that’s what we got. The rooms are on the small size, but ok for San Francisco. The king-size bed fills most of the room, with two small night stands. The mattress, sheets and pillows are of very good quality, really comfortable and made for a good night’s sleep despite our jet lag.
Across from the bed is a table/desk with one task chair and a padded chair. Next to it is a cabinet that holds the mini-bar and has the TV on top.
Near the door is a large closet with enough space for your clothes, a laptop size safe and thick bathrobes, as well as an iron & iron board. You’ll also find a folding luggage rack, but you’ll have a hard time finding space to put it!
The room doesn’t offer coffee & tea facilities, but you can request a kettle from reception. It does have a selection of ready-made cocktails to choose from, a quirky touch to distinguish itself from the chain hotels!
Our room faced the interior courtyard which overlooked the restaurant and bar on the 5th floor. The windows let in plenty of light, but no noise and it was quiet at night. The air conditioning worked well – not a given at San Francisco boutique hotels! The free WiFi was reliable and consistently fast at an average speed of 4.9Mbps.
The bathroom is small and old-fashioned, with a sink on one side, the toilet at the center and an old shower-over-tub combination with a straight rod and curtain. The shower head made a high-pitched noise, but had good pressure. All of it is clean and in working order, but could use a renovation to bring it up to modern standards.
The Zelos does provide high-end toiletries from Roil in eco-friendly dispensers. You can purchase them for $30 per bottle to take them home.
Restaurant & Amenities: Hotel Zelos has the “Dirty Habit” restaurant with indoor and patio rooftop seating. They offer breakfast and dinner, but we didn’t try it during our stay. They do offer free coffee and tea in the morning till 10:00am for guests and a large communal table serves as a “lounge” for guests to hang out during the day – a thoughtful offer, although not ideal.
The Zelos has a small gym that’s well designed and modern, making it an inviting space to workout. I appreciate the effort they put into the design – most hotel gyms are dreadful places and this was a pleasant exception. It has a small selection of cardio and weight equipment, enough for a basic workout.
Value & Rewards: We booked the Hotel Zelos through travelzoo.com at a rate of $185/night all in. That’s a good price for San Francisco during high season and I’d consider very good value for quality of accommodations, service and location. The Zelos can have rates exceeding $450 – at which point I’d consider it poor value. Also look out for the “facilities fee” that’s becoming more and more common in San Francisco, similar to resort fees: you are paying $29/night for amenities like WiFi internet or the gym, but have no choice of declining use of those facilities, making this fee a total scam that’s just hiding the basic room rate. TravelZoo waives that fee, making it worth looking out for their rates before booking here or at other San Francisco properties.
Since Zelos left the Kimpton chain, it no longer offers any rewards or loyalty benefits.
Bottomline: Hotel Zelos used to be a Kimpton property (the Palomar) and has kept some of the style and good service. You get decent-sized room in a perfect location in San Francisco, as well as an on-site restaurant and gym. At our price of $185/night, I’d stay again happily, but San Francisco rates can go sky-high, so look out for current prices at Hotel Zelos during your visit. San Francisco has lots of independent boutique hotels and they fit to the vibe of the city, so I’d recommend them over typical chain hotels and the Zelos is a very good option!