The Garden Court at the renewed Palace Hotel San Francisco reflects the splendor of the Gilded Age.


The Garden Court at the renewed Palace Hotel San Francisco reflects the splendor of the Gilded Age.

The Palace Hotel San Francisco

Splendor Rivals Spokane’s Davenport

This is the perfect time of year to visit San Francisco. The brisk but manageable weather somehow enhances the holiday spirit. World-class shopping, restaurants galore, and even ice skating make for an idyllic winter getaway. The newest luxury hotel offering in San Francisco is the Palace Hotel, and it is a stunning property.

The Location

The Palace is located on New Montgomery Street just off Market. This puts you just a few blocks from Union Square and about the same to the Financial District. Ferry rides on the Bay are just a bit further but an easy walk. Even AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants baseball team, is not more than a 10-minute walk. With the traffic and parking issues in the city, I find it very convenient to be able to walk to many destinations. Street car service going up and down Market Street is available right out the front door. You can use this to connect to the famous cable cars or just walk a few blocks to pick one up. The BART station is right across the street for longer journeys across the Bay.

The Hotel

Originally built in 1875, the Palace was San Francisco’s first luxury hotel and at the time the largest hotel in the world. Just this year, after extensive renovation, the hotel reopened to take its proper place as a premier property. Much care was given to preserve the original design while updating it to fit the modern traveler’s needs. As you walk in from the street, the marble floors and towering ceilings with crystal chandeliers immediately call attention to the grand design. The New Montgomery entrance allows for a less-crowded entrance to this understated upscale setting.

The rooms at the Palace are oversized, which is something you are more likely to see in historic buildings. They have been completely updated to accommodate the most discriminating modern traveler. The luxury furnishings are similar to a fine private San Francisco residence, and all rooms have floor to ceiling windows looking out to the city.

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The hotel has a large indoor pool area with a domed glass ceiling offering more city views. The well-appointed fitness area is enclosed in glass and adjacent to the pool. For complete details visit

The Garden Court

In my previous travels, the Davenport Hotel in Spokane has always taken top prize for the most dramatic lobby/restaurant area. Now I wonder. The Garden Court restaurant at the Palace Hotel is at least an equal. Marble floors are lined with Italian marble columns. Large crystal chandeliers hang from the cathedral ceilings. This is a setting fit for European royalty.

The cuisine is equal to the setting. These days the “farm to table” term is perhaps overworked. But here it is for real as Chef Jesse Llapitan grew up on a farm in Washington and was raised on fresh vegetables, organic free-range meats, and home- made dairy products. He has an instinct for sourcing that few chefs have. The results are fantastic. On our visit here I noticed that many locals celebrate special occasions at the Garden Court.

Shopping, Ice Skating, or the Ferry Plaza

For many, Union Square is reason enough to make a weekend trip to the city. Only New York can boast this type of shopping mecca. Every famous retailer is here, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue. If you do not have a storefront here, you are really not in the big time. They surround Union Square, which in the winter is home to a skating rink. No matter what your taste, you will find it within a block or two.

Those interested in sightseeing would do well to take a least one trip out onto the Bay. I would take the Golden Gate Ferry over to Sausalito for an hour or two. You will pass by Alcatraz and Angel Island with the Golden Gate Bridge always in view, especially as you get close to Sausalito. Take an extra layer of clothing as the Bay is always colder than you think.

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