San Francisco, CA
September 4-5, 2016
Room Rate: 260 USD
As I was planning my 4 day trip to San Francisco, I knew I had 2 nights at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco, I considered spending the rest of my time in the city at the same hotel, or opt to visit another property (or 2). In the last few years, I’d stayed at the Westin St. Francis, the now-Park Central Hotel (was a Westin when I’d stayed there), and the Parc 55 Hotel. Since I’d frequently stayed in the Union Square area, I thought it would be fun to stay in the SoMa area instead, so I’d opted for the W San Francisco.Jump to the Takeaway
As we were headed to Napa for the day, I had called the SPG platinum concierge the day before to request a 9 AM check in – admittedly a little (a lot) early, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask – as a Platinum 75, this normally shouldn’t be an issue, but the request must be made at least 24 hours in advance and I was about an hour too late. I called that morning as we were about to head over to inquire about my early check in request and the associate who answered the phone didn’t seem to want to speak to me and hurriedly told me that they were fully booked and no early check-ins were being accommodated. It wasn’t a big deal – I knew my request was a late one, but I was a little put off by her lack of interest in speaking to me (usually the front desk associate would at the very least look up my reservation when speaking to me).
When we arrived, as expected, our room was not ready, but they gladly processed our check in and took our luggage as we made our way out for the day. I had accidentally booked a room with two double beds, and asked if there was any way to get one with a king instead, but the front desk associate said they were fully booked and would likely not be able to make the switch. I got a call at around 11:00 AM from the front desk letting me know that my room was ready, but we were at a winery and didn’t make it back until about 6:00 PM.
When we arrived that evening, the lobby was bustling with people (as it had been earlier that morning). I attributed the morning rush to people checking out, but it looks like the lobby is simply busy all the time. The lobby was dark and dim, and connected to the bar, so the area frequently looked busy.
The check in process was fairly quick, the front desk associate made my keys and we walked up to the room with our luggage in tow.
The room was on the smaller side (smaller than our room at the Hotel Nikko), which didn’t bother me too much, but I did find our stunning view of a wall to be unimpressive.
I’m sure lots of people come in with plat status expecting upgrades and the best room ever, but I certainly had hoped I would at least get a view better than a wall. After my trip, I looked up reviews on TripAdvisor and other websites (like spg.com) and found that reviews said that SPG status means nothing at this property, and I was beginning to find this to be true.
Ignoring the view, what I couldn’t get past about the room was the shutters. They simply did not fully shut – so in the morning, beams of light were streaking in. I love a good blackout curtain (as is standard in most hotel rooms), and there was no way to completely block out the sun. This is all possibly due to age of the shutters – they are just not as effective as they used to be. Though the hotel underwent renovations in 2015, the windows were clearly missed on this upgrade.
Opposite from the bed was a long desk space. The desk featured some standard desk accessories – pencils cards, paper and the like. My favorite piece is the W pen, where one end serves as a pen, while the other is a stylus for your iPhone.
Under the desk was a foot roller – nice idea, but when I thought about everyone else who might’s used it, I decided to pass on this.
At the end of the desk was the minibar, filled with alcohol, snacks, and a light up Buddha.
Next to the minibar and desk was the closet, filled with the standard W items – a reusable tote, umbrella, robe and safe.
Then bathroom, located on the left side once entering the room, was also on the smaller side. It featured a bathtub with standard shower and a bowed curtain rod, which made the tub space feel bigger than it was when the shower curtain was drawn. As with every W hotel, the bathroom products were provided by Bliss Spa.
The shower pressure in the bathroom was pretty terrible – I struggled to wash the conditioner out of my hair. Another oddity was the space between the toilet and the toilet paper roll holder. One would have to reach significantly across the way in order to grab it. Not sure how long-armed their other guests are, but this was clearly not built for me!
I usually order room service, but we had already gotten food by the time we arrived at the hotel. A funny note – room service is available 24 hours! Some menus can be ordered from all day Friday – Sunday, but others are only available during today – like this “All Day” menu, with items served from 11 AM -11 PM.
Something I found odd about the room – though there were two beds in the room (clearly meant to sleep at least two people – possibly four), there seemed to only be enough items for one person. One chair in the room, despite the long desk (though I later found a stool tucked away in the bathroom – and I’m not sure I’d want to bring that out to the room), one outlet between the two beds to plug in electronics, and one robe (though this was likely due to an oversight on housekeeping’s part). I’ve stayed in much smaller rooms before that seemed more thoughtful in design (the Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur or W Paris comes to mind), and this property just seemed to miss the boat on that front.
The hotel is located in the SoMa area, in between the Powell and Montgomery Bart stations. Both stations can be accessed from SFO and OAK via Bart. Right up the street is the SF Museum of Modern Art, and the property is located walking distance from the Metreon, Yerba Buena Gardens, Union Square, and the Moscone Center. The Embarcadero and AT&T park are about a 20-30 minute walk away, or a short uber ride.
Pets Are Welcome
The property charges $100 pet fee for your stay when staying with a furry friend. Guests sign a pet waiver when checking in, stipulating that pets are not to be left alone in the room. No beds or other pet accessories were left in our room at check in (despite checking in the morning of arrival, and noting that we were traveling with a pet in our reservation), though their website would lead future guests to believe otherwise. No special pet treatment here, except for the very friendly doormen who seemed very fond of Marshall. They did, however, have a pet menu available for room service (though, as with room service for humans, times of availability are limited).
Check In: 8/10 – Front desk associates were nice enough, though didn’t offer water or anything else while we waited (as I’ve experienced at other Ws)
Elite Recognition: 6/10 – No room upgrade (of any sort!) – I ended up in a room facing a wall. While this isn’t too big of a deal, it seems that the property doesn’t hand out any elite recognition (according to other reviews on TripAdvisor and the SPG website itself), short of the required 500 points or breakfast amenity at check in and late check out – which I was very glad they could accommodate.
Room: 6/10 – small, but with a long desk – great for working if you’d like to spread out and do some work. Bathroom is a bit odd, with the toilet paper so far away from the toilet. Room’s view was TERRIBLE. Shutters were ineffective.
In-Room Technology & Entertainment: 7/10 – Standard flat screen TV, free wifi for guests booking through spg.com. Found one unused outlet between the two beds (the other had a lamp plugged in) – a little odd for a room with two beds.
Staff: 8/10 – Some staff was more friendly and helpful than others.
Location: 8/10 – Good location to for nearby shopping and convenient to two Bart stops. Proximity to numerous offices and key locations tourists or business travelers may visit.
On-Site Dining: 8/10 – Did not order any, but was put off by the limited room service schedule.
On-Site Amenities: 9/10 – Bliss spa on-site, recently upgraded 24 hour gym.
Hospitality Services: 8/10 – As with all Ws, this property has the Whenever Wherever concierge services.
Hotel Appearance: 8/10 – Modern lobby, hotel appeared clean and well maintained throughout the building.
Overall Rating: 76/100 (76%) ★★★★★
We ended up not particularly loving our time at this property. For a W, we found it to be quite impersonal, and the quality of the rooms was underwhelming for the rates they charge. A room at this property typically goes from $250-$450+, and at the higher end of the price, I’d say the rooms are likely not worth it. A friend, who had previously stayed at this property, stopped by during our stay and mentioned her room had been even smaller than ours. Additionally, due to the small size of the lobby area, the space felt constantly packed and chaotic. This property felt lacking in any personal touches, and seems to churn out hotel guests – I imagine they get plenty of foot traffic due to the proximity to the Moscone Center (where they surely see plenty of one time guests but not necessarily return guests), and numerous offices in the area. Nearby SPG properties include the St. Regis (one block north), the Palace Hotel, and the Park Central Hotel. Other non-SPG properties include the Marriott Marquis San Francisco, the Four Seasons, and the Courtyard San Francisco. All hotels are comparable in price (some falling on the higher or lower end), though prices fluctuate throughout the year.
As I said, it’s not a terrible property. But compared to other Ws, it is a bit of a disappointment. The room fee for pets is pretty standard, and all employees were very friendly and knowledgeable about the pet program (though I would have loved to see some of the amenities described on their website in person!). Would likely try another hotel in the area, but if I had to return to this property it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world – but fingers crossed for a better view!