Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sir Francis Drake Hotel, San Francisco

While in San Francisco, another hotel I stayed in was the legendary Sir Francis Drake, right off Union Square Park, seen above; a fantastic central location only blocks from the Fairmont.
Opened in 1928, the hotel saw its heyday up till WWII when it was used primarily by the military for army housing. The Drake has always been known as a party venue for locals and tourists alike from it's Prohibition Era roots, with its Persian Room and the Starlight Roof restaurant and bar with city views.
The lobby retains the glamorous decorations from it's beginnings: considered modern in the 20s, it now is one of those 'grand old spaces'. I loved these original murals depicting Sir Francis Drake's near discovery of the San Franciso area. Despite a major renovation a few years ago by the Kimpton Group of hotels (a company that I really admire for their appreciation of historic buildings,rehabilitation and reuse policies) the hotel is a bit tired now, especially the rooms.It's an old hotel and as can be expected, these rooms are TINY. Thats fine for most travelers as you spend little time in them but they also are a bit....worn shall we say? The rates reflect this and it has really become a budget hotel in a great location.
The Drake respects their party roots and this lovely bar has been added to the lobby -a great way to enjoy a beautiful space! It's not the Fairmont, but still a great venue at a great value.

8 comments:

Edith Hope said...

Dear AD, Another interesting building although one is left feeling slightly déja vue and, as you remark, it does not quite compare with the Fairmont. Indeed, it does somehow convey a slightly tired look in terms of the decorations and furnishings.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I so agree, Edith. The Drake could do with a redo to match its' fascinating history, particularly the rooms! I do like a lot of the detail work in the lobby though -that streamlined but still intense ornament - Love the 20s!

Blue said...

Beautiful, Stefan. Were you able to see the Maxfield Parrish mural at the Pied Piper bar?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Blue, I really wanted to but sadly we ran out of time (choosing to leave early to visit Filoli -so maybe it was worth it...)

David Toms said...

Looks stunning, however such a shame that it is a bit rundown. Of course this post inspired me to check out their website and reviews and some of it was not good. This could be truly magnificent under the right leadership.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

David, this seems to be true of most Kimpton hotels. They're 'hot' and really great and well run for 2or 3 years, then they sort of just get run down and aren't maintained. Not sure why that is? Make all your money up front then it just becomes a cash cow?

Carter Nicholas said...

Mrs Roth's Filoli is a valid excuse for truancy from the bar, young man, but I don't care to hear many others. :)

It's to your advantage, candidly, not to have had to report on the Fairmont. It is quite horrendously inelegantly a developer's hotel (the Swig family), which offers the paradox of a view of the Huntington from its only decent rooms (in the old building) without the repose of being there. But one can always adore the parking lot of the Pacific Union Club, each motor sporting the yellow sticker with the black hole, signifying election or inheritance, whichever you may crave the most.

It's a terribly unlearned slam against Kimpton, by the way, to confuse them with Park Hyatts. Campton Place on Union Square has been a superb little place (for those who can accept "tiny") for 4 decades, and for the last 3 has offered the comfiest brevity of walk to Hermès (the hotel didn't move, the store opened across the alley).

Kwana said...

It's quite grand and ornate. Makes a statement for sure.