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Walnut Creek Magazine

The Palace Continues to Set San Francisco’s Hotel Standard

Jun 20, 2017 10:45AM ● By Fran Miller

By Fran Endicott Miller

They simply don’t make them like this anymore. With its 11-foot ceilings, wide hallways, Italian marble columns, and crystal chandeliers, the Palace Hotel is the embodiment of everything the City by the Bay once was: elegant, sophisticated, and urbane. And yet the Palace continues to be everything that San Francisco is today: chic, contemporary, and inclusive. Few hotels can claim to be quintessential examples of their host towns, but by gracefully marrying its rich history with current trends, and after recently undergoing an extensive renovation, the Palace (part of Marriott Hotels & Resorts Luxury Collectionmaintains its stature as the Grand Dame of San Francisco. How does it do it? Let us count the ways:  

1) The Garden Court: Arguably one of the most beautiful interior spaces in Northern California, and possibly in the Nation, the Palace’s Garden Court is reason enough to keep the hotel on everyone’s radar. Unveiled in 1909, the 8,000 square foot space is framed by Italian marble, adorned with Austrian crystal chandeliers, and crowned with a spectacular stained-glass ceiling. The space is a stunner, and a must-see for anyone visiting San Francisco. Don’t let the opulence deter you from peeking or dining. While ball gowns were likely once the de rigueur dress code, Lululemon now predominates – at least during the breakfast rush – illustrating that the hotel’s elegant aesthetic is now a bit more relaxed, and proving that inclusiveness is now a hotel hallmark.

2) The Pied Piper: One of San Francisco’s most iconic bars, The Pied Piper continues to serve as a favorite for both locals and visitors. Named for the priceless 1909 Maxfield Parrish namesake painting that hangs over the bar, The Pied Piper was recently transformed to include the addition of an adjacent lounge to better accommodate the crowds that gather nightly. Formerly a formal dining area, the space now includes couches, settees, and a communal table ideal for mixing and mingling. The past seamlessly merges with the present in the sultry space; the original stained glass ceiling and intricate mosaic tile floor (discovered during renovations) are now juxtaposed with a modern fireplace and chic furnishings in hues of midnight blue, charcoal, and cranberry. It’s the perfect environ in which to relax with one of Pied Piper’s signature cocktails that pay homage to the hotel’s history and parade of famous guests, such as the Charlie Chaplin, or the Harding Old Fashioned. A great wine list, and selection of craft brews are also offered, along with a menu of delectable bites and entrees.

3) The Accommodations: Take-in all the energy that San Francisco offers, then retreat to the Palace where there is room to breathe, to relax, to unwind. You'll find welcoming corridors with authentic trim and molding, solid oak doors with brass monogrammed door knobs, high ceilings, expansive windows, and marble bathrooms. Hotels are simply not made in this vein anymore. Palace guest rooms provide a feeling of stepping into a luxury San Francisco apartment where jazz plays softly in the background while martinis are poured. Each (select from a wide number of sizes and layouts) is bedecked in a sophisticated palette of midnight blue, charcoal, dove grey and plum. Dark wood furnishings, mixed metals, artistic lighting, and modern artwork are complemented by textured upholstered furnishings. The focal point of the bedroom is a contemporary, tufted headboard with classic nail head trim. The design aesthetic perfectly combines historic detail with modern comfort.

4) The Pool: Where else can you sunbathe by a gleaming pool while observing the building progress of Salesforce Tower? The Palace’s interior oasis, featuring a 60’ x 20’ pool, is capped by a soaring, sky lit roof that reveals the city skyline and allows for indoor sunbathing. The serene environment is perfectly juxtaposed with the urban energy found just outside. The adjacent, state-of-the-art fitness center offers a cardio training room, TRX system, weights, spin bikes, and LifeFitness equipment. The updated men’s and women’s changing rooms feature luxurious marble bath areas, spa showers, and large back lit mirrors.

5) The Location: Centrally located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, the Palace is walking distance to nearly everything for which the city is known: Union Square, cable cars, the Embarcadero, Ferry Building Marketplace, Chinatown, AT&T Park, boutique and center shopping, cultural museums and theaters. Bonus: The Ghirardelli chocolate shop can be accessed from an interior hallway door; every visitor receives a free sample!

Bay Area residents no doubt steer friends and family to the Palace for the best in San Francisco accommodations, but the Palace is best enjoyed by those who know it well. I’ve loved the Palace since 1979, when my Skyline High School Senior Ball was held there. My most recent visit revealed that the Palace magic definitely still exists. Consider your own city staycation and rediscover why visitors from all over the world continue to flock to the Palace. The hotel offers several fun and fabulous packages that are perfect for a local getaway, including those that celebrates the anniversary of the Summer of Love and the Palace Hotel's Award of Excellence from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Find more information here. 

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