San Francisco is famously said to have been built on seven hills, just like Rome before it. The less poetic truth is that there are actually 44 hills in San Francisco. Whatever the total number, none is as storied as Nob Hill, the home of The Scarlet Huntington. Its location close to downtown, yet also sitting above and apart from it, has made it an exclusive area from the earliest days of the city’s history. The Big Four who built California’s railroads were among the wealthy residents who chose to construct their mansions here. In fact, the name “Nob Hill” comes from a shortening of “nabob,” a term for an important or wealthy person.
Much of what made Nob Hill appealing in 1890 remains true today. The city is at your feet, with the Financial District and Chinatown both easy walks—and downhill ones at that. If you are feeling a little more ambitious, the cafés and bars of North Beach aren’t much farther. Wherever you venture during the day, you’ll return to a remarkable oasis in the middle of San Francisco, which manages to have maintained its air of exclusivity even as the city has grown up around it. The Scarlet Huntington shares the elegantly landscaped Nob Hill Park with the soaring neo-Gothic Grace Cathedral and the brownstone Pacific-Union Club—one of the few structures to have survived the 1906 earthquake and fire.