Monday, September 13, 2010

The Fairmont, San Francisco

While in California earlier this summer, one of the hotels I stayed in in San Francisco was the beautiful and historic Fairmont.
Located at the top of Nob Hill, a VERY tall hill, it requires a little bit of work on foot (trust me). However, once there, the climb was worthwhile with spectacular views in every direction.
The lobby is one of those grand old lobbies that you automatically think of when you hear 'city hotel'. It's right out of an old movie: a glamorous place to have a drink or meet friends.
While the hotel opened in 1907 after a devastating earthquake, all of this heavy marble really did make me a bit nervous. After more than 100 years though, I guess we're safe!
One of my vivid memories from the trip was getting dressed up for the symphony and walking through this hallway on my way out of the hotel. It's all so over the top but in a good way!
While we didn't eat in the restaurant, it seemed like a really lovely place for breakfast or lunch. It's right in the heart of the hotel but had spectacular lighting which made it feel like continual sunshine.
A detail of the restaurant -check out that ceiling!
The walls have a beautiful mural and I'm always a sucker for white tableclothes.
The hotel has obviously been renovated many times over the years, but some great old details still exist, like this curved marble staircase from the restaurant down to all of the ballrooms and the famous Tonga Room!
The large ballroom had these great old shell sconces; love their dramatic flair!
Throughout the many hallways were beautiful gilded marble tables and beautiful mirrors: this especially large one was outside the main ballroom.
Near the ballroom on one of the lower levels is the famous Tonga room. The legendary space opened as a bar in 1945 but originally began as an indoor pool in 1929 which opened with an official dive by actress Helen Hayes!
It was sadly closed on the days we stayed in the hotel, but I managed to sneak in for a peak!How I would have loved to eat here!The floors above are also nicely decorated with some interesting chinoiserie art, this piece faced the door to our room.Also loved these fabulous mirrors at the end of the hallways. The hotel is really immense, it was a bit of a hike from the elevator.The room was basic but comfortable; light filled and cheerful.None of the furniture was quite standard issue.And just to part, the closet was immense - probably the size of my apartment here in DC! Seriously, you could have fit a double bed in here with room to spare, the picture doesn't quite capture that. My 3 shirts hanging there sure do look lonely though!
If you find yourself in San Francisco, I highly recommend the Fairmont!


Blue said...

We stayed there about ten years ago, maybe longer, and I was really disappointed with the furnishings of the main lobby - very Rooms to Go - but perhaps they are now changed for the better. The architecture, though, is superb, and if I remember rightly a very comfortable room.

teaorwine said...

I believe this is the original of the Fairmont properties to exist and a beauty it is. I have stayed frequently at their properties in Bermuda and always enjoy my time with them.

David Toms said...

You lucky thing! I have always wanted to stay here! I remember as a tennager I used to collect Hotel stationary ( I know a bit nerdy) And someone had given me some from the Fairmont. I was heavy bond paper embossed with gold. I still have it somewhere!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Blue, the furniture wasn't anything extraordinary but definitely not rooms to go -i guess they had remodeled?
Yes Teaorwine,the original! I'm sure their Bermuda hotel is wonderful!
David, I used to do the same thing and still have it in my 'stationary' box....the plaza, the ritz, wherever someone would stay I would keep the stationary. I occasionally use it now but it's precious!

La Petite Gallery said...

I haven't been in the Fairmont
for many years it was always a treat, in the seventies.
Thank you for the delightful post.


Woody said...

That must have been some vacation! That hotel is insanely beautiful--love the restaurant and lobby! If I were there, I'm not sure I could have left the hotel for the "real" vacation...

magnaverde said...

I was only at the Fairmont once, a long time ago, when Dorothy Draper's plush, hyped-up decor was still intact. That 4Os Baroque plaster sconce in the ballroom looks like a leftover from her scheme.

Thanks for the look at the Tonga Room, too. I never stay in an old hotel--and that's the only kind I stay in--without sneaking into all the locked rooms & walking all the corridors on all the floors. You never know what you'll find.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

A treat then, now and hopefully in the future!
Woody, so much to see and do that I had to leave - I just love SF!
Magnaverde - i love to explore! I had no idea that Draper had done a version of the hotel, i'll have to look for photos -fabulous! You're right, now that you mention it, items like that shell sconce really bring that home.

Anonymous said...

Dear AD, Splendid. The best of Edwardian. It reminds me very much of the Savoy in London, which you may well know, before the very recent refurbishment which has been going on for two years.

Blayne Beacham said...

THAT LOOKS AMAZING!! I love the curved staircase... wow...and the Tonga Room... it kind of reminds me of a movie I saw one where they were all dancing in a gym and the floor started opening up to reveal a pool underneath and everybody fell in. I can't remember the movie, but it was a very cool scene. So, is the restaurant open usually, or is it closed for good? it might be worth a trip to California just to visit this hotel and eat there!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today and leaving a comment.

Renee Finberg said...

nice place.
i will meet you for a long over due cocktail tonight....
say around 8?

xx love

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Blayne, how could you forget!! The movie is It's A Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart, and the dance floor opens at the very beginning, before Jimmy is married.


Thomas said...

Def jealous of that closet. I could probably fit my apt in there twice.

ChipSF said...

These are some good pictures of the current decor at the Fairmont. For a number of years in the 80's I lived across the hill and was in and out of here all the time. The Dorothy Draper decor was still in place and was to my view just garish. There were pictures of the original decor hanging in some of the ground floor corridors which only highlighted how it had changed. This latest renovation has brought the decor back to something much more like the original design but in a fresh way.

Anonymous said...

My girl friend owns a bridal store on Russian Hill called Atelier Des Modistes. She spent her honeymoon in the Penthouse at the Fairmont, so divine. You might recognize it in numerous films such as the scene in "The Rock" where Sean Connery pushes a cop over a balcony and dangles him from his arm with a shoelace. Worth googling for pics. The Elevators (those ones in Towering Inferno) to the rooftop cocktail lounge were a must for visiting friends to SF, scary fantastic ride. And of corse the Tonga room. I was also lucky to be connected to Cab Calloways room one time when I was buying tickets to his show. I'm a huge fan so when a woman answered I just said Cab Calloway, she said to someone in the room "it's for you" Cab gets on the phone, chews me out, calls me a damn fool and hangs up on me...That was worth more than the show.

Anonymous said...

..oh and for the post who had not been to the lobby in 10 years. They torn up the old wall to wall carpet and discovered all that beautiful marble. It looks nice now.