It shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that as the founder of The Anti Tourist, I prefer artistic boutique hotels and charming bed and breakfasts over your standard chain hotel line. And I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you. But it’s not that I’m opposed to fancy hotel lines and it’s not that I don’t give them a chance to impress me, either. While I was just in California, I stayed at the Sofitel in Redwood City and the Hyatt at SFO, and they were both warm and welcoming and their massive beds and chocolate-covered foods were just what late-night, slightly-buzzed me needed. But what hotels like those hotels do is science and what hotels like Golden Gate Hotel in San Francisco do is art. And I was always a right-brained artsy kid debating the need for calculus classes in high school. (Coincidentally, I have a theory that we’re never all that different in life than we were in high school).
Golden Gate Hotel, located at 775 Bush Street in San Francisco’s Nob Hill, is the definition of a charming bed and breakfast if you ask me. The crisp yellow building is tall and slender–just my type. Keeping the golden motif alive, the walls are bright beacons of the shade, accented by hand-painted lamps and hot air ballon curtains. Each corner of Golden Gate Hotel has a personal touch. A rooster barn-esque sign alerts you of the breakfast time each morning–8-10:30–where they serve you freshly made coffee, freshly poured orange juice, and freshly baked croissants. The friendly staff make conversation with you over breakfast and are happy to call you a taxi when you’re done talking and ready to explore the city. The in-house cat, dog, and occasional parrot make you feel more welcomed than you ever could at a 5-star chain hotel–especially when the parrot is busy repeating voice mails word for word to each incoming traveler.
Each room at Golden Gate Hotel has its own flare. The bathrooms are small but the water pressure is good and hot and the customized Golden Gate Hotel soaps and other bathroom goods are pretty and welcoming (although, admittedly, they were so pretty I didn’t touch them and just resigned to use my own soap). The beds are flawlessly comfortable and the Japanese televisions, bought down the street from the hotel, add a modern and funky twist to the classic rooms–equipped with star-shaped remote controls.
The halls are lined with the photographs collected by a man named Walter Daniels. Walter gathered these photographs, mostly of random people, from all sorts of stores and exchanges each Sunday for years. While the pictures were originally hung without much knowledge regarding their history or subjects, one of the inn keepers, Gabriele, explained to me the great source for conversation they have been over the years. When you’ve got people from all over the world staying with you each night, I suppose it makes sense that some of the random faces on your walls would be familiar faces to others. Chandeliers bring a dim, yet glamorous light to the winding halls and the elevator shaft, one of the oldest in the city, is hand-painted and cricketing, just the way it should be.
The Nob Hill neighborhood surrounding the hotel is nice and to be quite frank, I think you’re an idiot if you stay in this area at a generic chain hotel.
By: Elizabeth Seward