Location. Location. Location.
It’s the first thing you notice about the stylish Galleria Park Hotel, conveniently situated at the crossroads of San Francisco’s famed Union Square and important Financial District.
A living room-style reception area.
Outside Sutter Street may bustle with the business of the district, but inside this “boutique” hotel we found a restful ambiance in shades of dove gray, celery, and pale wedgewood, and a faint, welcoming scent like gourmet jelly beans.
Extensive renovation in 2007 brought the historic Sutter Hotel (built in 1911) sweeping grandly into a twenty-first century inspiration of eclectic Victorian, Art Deco, and Modern design. Little elements like ornate art nouveau ironwork and the marble surround of the elevators recall the original turn-of-the-century construction and emphasize the glamour of past eras.
The Galleria Park Hotel's
popular Wine Hour.
A distinct example is the grand art nouveau fireplace, a central feature of the Galleria Park’s intimate lobby “living room.” This is where, after checking into our room, we join other guests for the complimentary evening wine reception. From 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., hospitality sales agent and wine hostess, Maria, serves exclusively California wines. With a smile she pours me a Fish Eye Chardonnay from Sonoma.
Several guests have just returned from a historic architectural tour of the neighborhood around the Galleria Park. The three-hour walking tour departs daily from the lobby. Pretty Maria, who has taken the tour herself, says, “I’m from Spain and I see the buildings in a different way. I now realize th there is history here (in America), too.”
Artful designs in the lobby.
She also calls our attention to the artwork displayed prominently throughout the guestrooms, lobby and hallways. “These are the sketches of California artist Clyde Follet Seavy.” The hotel’s private collection of Seavy’s works include many original pieces of personal scenes of his wife, Adele, and interior drawings of their first home at California and Laguna Streets in San Francisco. Seavy’s sketches were completed in the 1930s.
Our guestroom in this non-smoking hotel, with its ten-foot ceilings and original moldings, is a cozy reminder of bygone days. Windows still open to welcome fresh breezes, but air conditioning has been included as part of the renovation.
Attention to personal comfort
is evident in every guest room.
Attention to personal comfort is evident in pillowtop mattresses, Frette linens, towels and robes, flat screen televisions and electronic door locks. The in-room safes are even large enough to hold two laptops. Every need for the business traveler has been anticipated. We found a desk station with a two-line phone, MP docking station, dataport and free WiFi. There’s even a “business honor bar”—a kind of mini bar, but stocked with office materials and including a tech tool box, free BART passes to the airport, and a checkout packet complete with hotel receipt and airline boarding passes.
The 177 guestrooms on eight floors at the Galleria Park include one-bedroom Park Suites featuring a living room with table for four that's separate from the bedroom; seven Junior Suite rooms, which are larger king rooms; and one Grand Suite with King bed and the capability for an adjoining bedroom and a wood-burning fireplace.
A guestroom sink recalls an earlier era.
We meet sales manager Suzie Chickeles, whose enthusiasm for the Galleria Park is infectious. She points with pride to the high speed “smart” elevators, explaining this means that when one is up, the other is down. “Before, we had little cage elevators,” she says, “charming, but slow.”
Suzie takes us to the third floor to show off the terrace where a private urban park has been created. It features a jogging track, wooden benches for relaxing, and outstanding views of some of the best historic architecture San Francisco has to offer. Smoking is allowed here, so Suzie says, “we place people who smoke on the third floor, so they can pop out onto the terrace to smoke.”
A private terrace park.
The Galleria Park Hotel is “a dog-friendly hotel,” so pets—leashed of course—are also allowed in the terrace park. “Your dog has to be with you at all times,” Suzie says, “It can’t be left in your room. That’s pretty much industry standard.”
She takes us down to the second floor, where there is a complimentary fitness studio and Business Center with printers and unlimited free paper in addition to free usage of computers. A Meeting Center consists of three meeting rooms—the Buena Vista, the Lafayette, and the MacArthur —accommodating up to 100 people. “This is the perfect business hotel,” Suzie says. “A full-time Conference manager is available to coordinate all arrangements, including complete audiovisual equipment and full service catering.” Besides the meeting rooms, the Mezzanine can accommodate an intimate reception of up to 25 people.
The Galleria Park Hotel is a great business address for road warriors.
Because of Galleria Park’s easy access to San Francisco’s Financial District, Suzie says lots of business, financial and insurance groups meet here, “mostly companies in the area.” Monday through Friday there’s a complimentary town car service within the financial district. “That’s from about Kearney to the waterfront, east of Union Square, about a three-square-mile radius.”
Admire historic San Francisco
architecture from the Garden Terrace.
While week-day clientele is corporate, week-ends are for leisure. San Francisco’s premiere shopping mall, the Crocker Galleria, is steps away, attracting mother/daughter teams who come for shopping, especially before Christmas.
During the wine hour we chat with Claire and daughter Sylvia, visiting from Denver. “We found Galleria Park on the Joie de Vivre website,” Claire says. Sylvia, a physician’s assistant, is moving to San Francisco, so they are using the Galleria Park as home base while they apartment-hunt “and do a little shopping.”
The Galleria Park Hotel is another inspiration of California’s largest independent boutique hotelier, San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hospitality. Joie de Vivre Hospitality describes itself as “a grass roots organization that strives to have a positive impact on our community.” Toward that end, each of their hotels is dedicated to donating a minimum of $200 per guest room per year to local non-profit organizations. The Galleria Park Hotel’s philanthropic partner is The Gum Moon Asian women’s Resource Center, which serves the needs of women and children in geographic and social transition. Their services and programs help people develop life skills that enable them to integrate into society and support themselves and their families.
Convenient conference facilities.
Sylvia loves their choice of the Galleria Park as a base to explore San Francisco.
Contemporary designs extend outdoors.
“We like the character (of the hotel) and the people working here are really nice,” Claire says. “And the décor is soothing.”
Through December, 2008, the Galleria Park has a special program called “Galleria Park Suggests” or GPS. Two packages, “GPS Urbanite” and “GPS Town & Country” have been created to give guests the chance to see and experience the city as local San Franciscans would. Activities in the packages include a historic and gastronomic walking tour through the city’s eclectic North Beach neighborhood with revered food critic, Grace Ann Walden, as well as adventures tailored for guests who want to gain insight to experiences not found in standard travel guidebooks.
Feel at home in your guestroom.
THE GALLERIA PARK HOTEL
191 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94104
The last stage of the Galleria Park’s new face will be the addition of Midi, a new brasserie designed to serve “California fresh cuisine”, which is very seasonal and organic. The concept and menu will be the creation of talented Korean-born chef Michelle Mah. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Mah especially loves the Bay Area’s bounty of seasonal, sustainably-farmed produce. The 130-seat restaurant will be designed by Michael Guthrie, whose past projects include acclaimed restaurants such as Bix, Myth and Spoon in San Francisco and Tra Vigne in St. Helena, California. Midi is set to open in January, 2009. “Midi will capture exactly who we are,” Suzie says.
We came away with a special feeling for a hotel that not only provides an exceptional visiting experience, but gives back to the neighborhood where it lives.
The Galleria Park Hotel is well-situated for easy access to San Francisco’s Chinatown, historic cable cars, and the Moscone Convention Center. Along with traditional attention to detail and friendly service, it’s no wonder Frommer’s San Francisco says of the Galleria Park, “Once again the Joie de Vivre Hotel Group has converted an ordinary downtown hotel into a hip Art Nouveau destination.”
To see virtual tours of the Galleria Park’s variety of guest suites, visit www.galleriapark.com
— Feature by Carolyn Hamilton Proctor, Jetsetters Magazine Editor; photos by Carolyn and courtesy of Galleria Park Hotel.