Saturday, August 16, 2008

If You’re Going to San Francisco... sure to stay at the Hotel Union Square.

By the time I registered for the Romance Writers of America National Conference held earlier this month, the room block at the conference hotel was fully booked. The Hotel Union Square, a charming old boutique hotel, is only a block and a half away. I had stayed there once before and really enjoyed it, so I went online and reserved a room.

The hotel just completed a major renovation this spring, so the guest rooms have a fresh new, modern feel, including wall-mounted flat screen TVs, a rain shower in the bathroom, and complimentary wireless Internet. The rooms are smaller than you'll find in a modern hotel, but the character of the place more than makes up for that.

The lobby’s art deco decor is comfortable and inviting. Complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate are served there every morning. Every afternoon, guests are invited to enjoy a glass of California wine at the complimentary happy hour. So civilized.

The hotel’s concierge, Tom Steele, is hands down the friendliest and most helpful hotel concierge I’ve ever met. He was on staff the first time I stayed there and I was so pleased to see he still works there.

One of the most charming things about the hotel is its central courtyard. I requested a room that faced the courtyard, but those rooms only have one bed. Instead, we were given a quiet room on the sixth floor, which is also the top floor. Guests do not have access to the courtyard, but here's a view from the second floor.

Every time we stepped off the elevator on the sixth floor, we were greeted by San Francisco’s Mermaid. She’s reminiscent of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, don’t you think? On the wall below her is a plaque that explains her origin. Here's what it says:

San Francisco’s Mermaid
We dedicate the opening of the Mermaid Seafood Bar and bar at the Hotel Union Square with this mermaid whose journey began across the street at Bernstein’s Fish Grotto in 1907. Though she has lain dormant for many years, she is again ready to lift the spirits of those who sight her and welcome them for a respite from the sidewalk seas. May she again shine like a beacon in this city’s future as well as illuminate the memories of her past.
February 1989

Staying at the Hotel Union Square made attending the conference feel more like a vacation. The cable car line runs right past the front door, Union Square Park is a block away, Chinatown is within easy walking distance, and as my daughter will attest, the shopping is out of this world! The next time we visit San Francisco, we’ll definitely stay at this charming little hotel again.

Until next time,

[Lee's note: The plaque really does say "Mermaid Seafood Bar and bar." I assume it was a restaurant and bar, but it's no longer open so it's hard to say for sure.]


Anonymous said...

The hotel looks charming, Lee! I love places with their own character and quirks – like the courtyard and mermaid. Wonderful!


Lee McKenzie said...

Almost makes you wish every hotel had a mermaid, doesn't it?