After living in San Francisco for almost twenty years, I now frequently visit the city I love. And when I stay at a hotel, the InterContinental San Francisco is my favorite place to stay – it’s modern room and great location, as well as the wonderful ISpa are the main reasons to come back over and over.
Location: While a lot of visitors to San Francisco stay near Fisherman’s Wharf or around Union Square, as a long-term resident I prefer the less touristy South of Market location. You are close to public transport (5 minute walk) connecting you to the airport and anywhere in the city, many restaurants and lots of shopping! You’ll also have Yerba Buena garden and the SF Museum of Modern Art nearby. You can reach the airport by BART train in 45 minutes and by taxi in 20-45 minutes. If you are planning trips by car, I’d suggest to pick up a rental car or ZipCar around the corner when you need it – parking is excruciatingly expensive at $65/day!
Service/Rewards: During my many stays at the InterConti, the front desk service has been very mixed – anything from friendly and attentive to professional but cold, outright snooty and borderline rude. Unfortunately, that’s par for the course in San Francisco – the hotter the economy, the worse the service, and this won’t stop me from staying at the InterConti again. It’s something you’ll have to live with in booming San Francisco these days. I have yet to find a hotel that consistently delivers exceptional service, but then I might be spoiled by great service in Asia…
Housekeeping has always been quick and thorough, delivering a clean and well stocked room every single night. Valet and bell desk are equally on top of their job, assisting with car parking and luggage as needed. The staff at check in does regularly recognize my IHG Rewards Club Platinum status. I have always received room “upgrades”, usually the same room on a higher floor – the IC has countless room categories from standard rooms on the lower floors to mid-level floors and high floors. I’ve never received any type of welcome amenity – something even a Holiday Inn in Asia would do.
Room: The InterContinental is one of the newest luxury hotels in San Francisco and the rooms reflect that. They are pretty large for San Francisco, with plenty of room to move around and for your luggage. The floor-to-ceiling windows give you great views over the city and let in plenty of light. They are soundproof, making for some of the quieter environment in the city The decor is contemporary in beige/green/brown tones, without being painfully hip. There is a super-comfortable king-size bed with very nice sheets, comforter and pillows, a comfortable chair, work desk and plenty of storage. You’ll also find a huge flat-screen TV (more than 50in), a slightly outdated iPod dock, a large safe and coffee/tea facilities. The bathroom is held in similar beige/brown tones with nice, white mosaic tiles as accent. You find a large sink and a shower-over-tub combination with curved rod and curtain. The provided bath amenities are not standard InterContinental, but very nice. Towels are thick and soft.
Restaurant/Amenities: The hotel has an indoor pool that’s large enough for lap swimming, but not very inviting to “hang out”. Next door is the large fitness center with plenty of cardio and weight equipment for a full workout. With many hotels in San Francisco having very small gyms and day passes at local gyms going for $15 or more, this is a nice benefit if you want to get your regular workout while traveling. The hotel also has a very good spa, the ISpa, which I have gone to many times even without being a hotel guest. They offer frequent promotions of up to 50% off, so sign up for their newsletter before visiting – it makes their services very competitively priced for San Francisco. The treatment includes access to their steam room, a glass of champagne before your treatment and the most comfortable massage tables I’ve laid down on! Uncharacteristically for ever-changing San Francisco, some of the therapists have been around for years and are very experienced!
The InterContinental is home to a lobby bar and the Michelin-rated “Luce” restaurant. I have eaten there once for a special occasion. Food and service were very good, if pricey. It’s one of the few hotel restaurants in San Francisco I’d consider going to!
Bottomline: The InterContinental is one of the newest luxury hotels in San Francisco with modern rooms, a great location and very good spa, fitness and pool. Despite the mixed service experience, I’m sure to stay again in the future and recommend it for an upscale stay in the city. This comes at a price, with weekday or convention rates exceeding $350/night. During those times, free-night certificates courtesy of the IHG Rewards MasterCard come in handy or reward nights (at 60,000 points/night) come in handy. While that sounds expensive, at non-peak times the IC is often only a few dollars more than the Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express in town, and much cheaper than upscale hotels near Union Square, making the IC a great value. You can find the current rates here!