Fairmont San Francisco Hotel
Fairmont San Francisco Hotel
A whole lot of history converges at the Fairmont San Francisco—as do all of the city’s cable car lines, which offer easy transportation to the Financial District, Union Square, and Fisherman’s Wharf. The hotel was built in 1906 but damaged in the Great Earthquake and subsequent fires before it even opened, so celebrated architect Julia Morgan was brought in to repair the building. Once it debuted, the hotel quickly became a city favorite, hosting more than its share of historic events, including the series of meetings in 1945 that resulted in the formation of the United Nations. The hotel’s storied bar, The Venetian Room, also featured big names, from Ella Fitzgerald and Nat ‘King’ Cole to Tony Bennett, who first performed I Left My Heart in San Francisco here in 1961 (Bennett still frequents the hotel).
Today, the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is a draw for tourists and locals seeking a kitschy, iconic San Francisco experience, with live music, Polynesian food, and Mai Tais severed against a backdrop of occasional staged thunderstorms. Other dining options include Laurel Court for all-day coastal California fare and the famous Afternoon Tea, a local tradition since 1907. The opulent design of the hotel extends from its lobby—with marble floors and sumptuous fabrics—to the 606 luxurious rooms, each outfitted with comfortable furnishings and modern technologies. Of the 62 suites, 10 also include balconies with city and bay views.
All About the Bees at Laurel Court Restaurant
It’s all about the quarter million bees living in four hives on the roof of the Fairmont San Francisco, or more specifically, the honey they produce, when it comes to dining and drinking at the Laurel Court Restaurant & Bar inside the hotel. Honey produced by the bees -- the colony produces some 1,200 pounds of honey each year! -- is used in the restaurant’s special artisanal honey beer as well as the delicious desserts it creates and even the house-made salad dressings and with the afternoon tea service served here. Beyond honey, however, the super eco-friendly restaurant focuses on locally grown and sustainable ingredients from produce to meat. The elegant marble locale in the hotel’s lobby area is also atmospheric.
San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel - Luxury on Nob Hill
Located on a hilltop crest in Nob Hill, the Fairmont offers outstanding views in a luxury environment. It is famous for its bar, the Tonga Room, which has a faithful following. The views are gorgeous; my room in the corner had a great vista all the way past Alcatraz Island. Take some time to wander the halls, which are filled with movie and celebrity paraphernalia, from visits to the Tonga Room to movies filmed on location to stars who stayed at the hotel. Be sure to check out the restaurant—the chef has four honeybee hives atop a rooftop garden!
Please Don't Eat the Walls
For more than a century, the Fairmont has given San Francisco unparalleled holiday decor and overall experience. Every last inch of the lobby is adorned with lights, trees, beautifully wrapped gifts, and evergreen. Just a glimpse and you feel instantly in the mood for hot mulled cider and It’s A Wonderful Life. The coolest part is that each year, the Fairmont’s culinary team plans and constructs a life-sized gingerbread house. Made with real homemade gingerbread “bricks”, mortared with icing, and covered with colorful candy decorations, it’s really something to behold...and it smells GREAT when you’re walking through. Just remember: it’s not for eating!