Sometimes hotel stays serve a purpose, like overnight accommodations by a convention center, or perhaps the goal is to house a large party as economically as possible, but there are times when you want to splurge. And sometimes you come across a travel lodging experience that exceeds every expectation and is worth every dime. Hotel Drisco in San Francisco is the perfect example of an above and beyond stay in my opinion. Though titled a hotel, it feels like a bed and breakfast with the luxury service of a five-star resort.
Built in 1903, the hotel has preserved all the original architectural charm while integrating in modern necessities and adorable details. Upon arrival, we were greeted with warm hand towels and a tea and coffee station. The quaint lobby area was sprinkled with friendly staff showing a genuine desire to share their love of the hotel.
When booking this hotel, it was definitely in the upper price range of our budget. Nothing in San Francisco is ever really affordable, but there seemed to be a surge in pricing compared to our usual visits. This is most likely the difference between visiting in the summer versus the fall. I originally booked a very simple, no view room. That quickly changed.
On arrival, we were given the option to upgrade to a unbooked suite for only $75. After a quick view of four room options, we actually got to select the exact room that we wanted to stay in. The suite upgrade was totally worth it, and I loved the opportunity to choose for ourselves. To help make it worth the added expense, we decided to make the most of our stay by enjoying all the extras. In the end, we feel like it paid for itself as there are so many complimentary amenities offered.
The suite that we selected included a bowl of fresh fruit, a pillow menu with options for firm or soft pillow additions, wonderful Bvlgari bath amenities, a bedside sleep machine, free wifi, great plugs on the desk for re-charging, a nespresso machine, complimentary water bottles, two TVs with a DVD menu, and open windows offering cool breezes and city views. It was picturesque and relaxing for our last night in the city.
After we checked in, we visited the free wine reception that nearly filled us up for dinner. The wine selection is quality and, though there are many fine choices for snacking, the signature meatballs are delectable. The next morning we enjoyed the delicious breakfast spread that was enough to keep us satisfied through lunch. Be sure to ask for a cappuccino and do not miss out on the chocolate croissants either.
We did miss out on the complimentary chauffeured car offer because we stayed in for the night and our departure was from Oakland airport. My husband, Dave, was not feeling well and so we took it easy in the hotel’s robe and slippers and order room service after a quick trip to Walgreens to get vitamins and medicines for his throat.
Though it was certainly no fun to have a sick partner on the last night of vacation, the room and views were lovely. The room service meal was also really good and we double-fisted wine glasses from the reception to take to the room for dinner.
Unfortunately due to poor health, we were not able to take advantage of the small fitness room or the complimentary bikes. Honestly, the site is ideal for views on top of a high hill and I can not imagine riding bikes on those tough hills but the staff might have some suggestions for flat trails. The views would be amazing if you could handle the steep inclines on bike. If you were wanting a pool, they also offer free passes to the Presidio YMCA.
If we had been more comfortable with venturing out from the room, then the location in the Pacific Heights is conveniently located by top dining, shopping and bar options. Being on top of a hill, the hotel is surrounded by multi-million dollar mansions with the exclusive bridge-to-bridge views. I would not walk that hill, but between the car offer or the ease of availability for Uber cars (www.uber.com) then getting to and from this trendy area would be simple. We definitely plan to stay again and we certainly want to explore the vicinity further.
But after filling up on light bites at the evening reception, we were delighted to return to evening “turn-down” service where staff filled the ice bucket, left a shortbread cookie and additional waters, as well as laid out robe and slippers. This was the turning point when we made the decision to just rest and enjoy the room.
I would consider this one of my top hotel stays, but there are some things to note as you consider staying here. There is no parking on site, so the valet staff parks your car on the street and moves it every couple of hours to comply with the neighborhood parking rules. We used public transportation and Uber our visit, but this might not be convenient for locals.
Actually, I could not find any easy public transportation options to the hotel, but I have become a fan of Uber rides anyway. It turns out that buses are limited in the area in general. This might have to do with the difficulty navigating some of the hills. I like the neighborhood feel, but you will probably need a car service to get you to the hotel.
Also, along with the historical charm advantage, there are some disadvantages to being in an old building. We could hear heavy footsteps of someone upstairs, but the lack of air-conditioning provided the most awkward experience. The temperature is fine with only windows due to the lovely California temperatures and the hill setting, but there were times where you could hear your other neighbors. This was not really a problem, but we twice heard lovemaking noises from other rooms. Unfortunately, they probably heard Dave coughing all night too. The next morning at breakfast, I felt like everyone was looking around the room trying to figure out who the loud lovers were. But, seriously, it sounded like someone was being hurt so it was a bit exaggerated and likely abnormal. We laughed about it.
After breakfast, we returned to our room to find a newspaper and departure goodie bag hanging from our door. These are the details that just made the entire stay so very special. As I do sometimes get perks for being a travel blogger, I want to emphasize that I had no special treatment on this one. I paid full price and did not get any special love. This is how they treat each client who walks through their door. And I am already trying to think of ways to save up and return once again.