Facing Union Square in the center of downtown San Francisco, The Westin St. Francis is a fixture on the city's landscape. A grande dame among America's luxury hotels, this historic landmark survived the Great Fire and Earthquake of 1906 that destroyed 80 percent of the city. Today, the hotel is a Westin brand member of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Convenient Central Location
Surrounded by stores, restaurants, theaters, and hotels, the open spaces of Union Square attract crowds for a robust schedule of activities all through the year. These range from holiday ice skating to free summer concerts, and even an annual cable car bell ringing content. In fact, there is no better or more convenient spot in San Francisco for observing the famous cable cars heading up and down Powell Street. The underground tracks run both south and north directly in front of The Westin St. Francis, connecting Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf, passing Chinatown and "the crookedest street in the world" at Lombard.
Muni public buses and subway lines are also convenient for Union Square, a short walk to the museums of SoMa, the financial district, and the Moscone Convention Center. Located 12 miles south, San Francisco International Airport is accessible by BART underground service.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
Since the hotel's celebrated pre-earthquake opening in 1904, the property's original structure with 250 guest rooms has been extended to comprise more than 1,200 rooms and suites.
The original building and the 1970s addition are respectively known as the low-rise Landmark Building and the Tower Building. The more contemporary tower is served by five glass elevators and offers fine city views from function rooms, some guest rooms and suites as high as the 32nd floor. On the 31st floor, the Windsor Suite is named in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's stay in 1983.
Westin hotels are known for their signature Heavenly Beds pillow-top mattresses and linens in quality 250 thread count sheets and duvets. Rooms are supplied with a mini bar or fridge, private-label Westin-branded bath and beauty products and an Enseo SMART TV system with personal streaming capabilities. The hotel has extensive flexible meeting and banquet space totaling over 56,000 square feet for conferences, weddings, and events. The 24-hour WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio in the Landmark Building underwent a $1 million renovation in 2017.
Single occupancy rooms begin at about $250 per night, depending on seasonality and availability, which can vary day-to-day and week-to-week. Due to the hotel's longstanding reputation, loyalty program, and convenient location, sellouts are not unusual during busy San Francisco dates, in-house social functions and major conventions.
For leisure visitors to San Francisco, seasonal and weekend packages may offer the best deals. Family vacation packages are another option and connecting rooms can be guaranteed for a daily supplement. Valet parking is available for a fee and pets (yes, complete with Heavenly pet beds) are welcome without an additional fee. ADA-compliant rooms are available upon request and in-room Wi-Fi is available for a fee.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members benefit from dedicated check-in, complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and exclusive 10 percent discounted rates on Thursday through Sunday nights.
Dining at The St. Francis
The Westin St. Francis has several options for socializing, having a drink and eating in a number of restaurants, bars, and lounges. Unlike many classic hotels of the St. Francis's pedigree, this property doesn't have a famous palm court or a destination restaurant with a view for special occasion dinners. Overnight guests have the optional convenience of in-room dining.
- The Oak Room Restaurant: The hotel's original main dining room serves American favorites for breakfast à la carte, from the buffet table and for lunch, but not dinner. The Westin Kids Club Program has menus for children under 12, and "Super Food" items that are higher in protein and lower in sodium and fat. Hotel guests can charge meals to the room account.
- Clock Bar: A cocktail lounge off the main Landmark Building entrance, Clock Bar was created by San Francisco-based, Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina. The cocktail program is inspired by past bartenders' recipes, the classics, and seasonal ingredients. It's open daily from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m., with a happy hour for the first two hours.
- Caruso's: Cocktail service begins at 1 p.m. in the Tower Lobby, with a bar menu available from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Caruso's offers specialty coffee drinks, homemade pastries, wines by the glass, panini sandwiches, and salads. The food outlet is named for the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso who visited the St. Francis for breakfast on April 18, 1906, moments after a pre-dawn earthquake changed San Francisco forever.
- Chateau Montelena Winery Tasting Room: Named for one of the great Napa Valley wineries, the tasting room is off the Landmark Lobby across from the Grand Staircase. Chateau Montelena produces award-winning Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Riesling varieties. Selected wines are available for tasting daily from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Shops and Services at The St. Francis
Several shops and services are located in the hotel lobby and around the perimeter of the property with direct street entrances as well. Hertz car rental and San Francisco Sightseeing each have a facility. Landau is a high-end jewelry retailer, Moreau is a specialty boutique, and Rejuvé Wellness Center & Spa offers facials, massages and more treatments. The Eno Wine Bar with a Geary Street entrance is a cozy spot with a fireplace and Victoria's Secret & PINK occupies a large retail space on Powell Street.
Guest Reviews and Insider Tips
This location is in the heart of the city, so request a higher floor in the tower if noise is a concern. Some TripAdvisor guest reviews point out that lower floor rooms in the Landmark Building, which is 12 stories in total, can be subject to street noise. On the plus side, all these rooms have windows that open. In response, management indicates that all furnishings, guest rooms and corridors in the older Landmark Building commenced a $40 million dollar renovation in late 2017, scheduled for completion in spring 2018.
Note the elevators that whoosh guests up and down in the hotel tower are glass enclosed, so avoid them if acrophobia is an issue and enjoy them if beautiful city views is an objective. One guest also noted that room service gratuities of 20 percent are included in the bill.
A word to the wise: leave the car elsewhere. The Westin St. Francis has a highly walkable location, which is well served by public transportation. Valet parking will make a dent in the wallet at more than $75 a day and finding parking spaces in San Francisco is a headache. If you must drive, consider self-parking at the Union Square Garage across the street at about half the price.
During the holidays, the hotel lobby attracts admirers for its fairytale sugar-coated castle, complete with miniature Alpine village and gift-laden steam train to encircle. Embrace in the Christmas in California mood with ice skating at Union Square, surrounded by illuminated palm trees, naturally.
In the Heart of San Francisco
Are you yearning to see cable cars climb halfway to the stars? If you're thinking of leaving your heart in San Francisco, don't miss the photo opportunities in front of handpainted heart art installations set at each corner of Union Square. Stepping out of the hotel's front door, the heart sculpture to your left at the corner by Saks Fifth Avenue was painted by singer Tony Bennett himself. If location, location, location plays heavily in your decision about where to stay in San Francisco, it's hard to beat a stay at The Westin St. Francis on Union Square.