San Francisco Travel Guide

San Francisco Travel Guide

Gina Samarotto

We’re no strangers to San Francisco’s iconic charm. With near perfect weather, iconic sights and a never-ending kaleidoscope of events and activities, leaving one’s heart there is easy. Wading through all the covetable options the city offers, though, can prove to be more difficult. From breathing new life into classic favourites to discovering the next best things the city has in store, San Francisco has a way of making herself worthy of a spot near the top of your travel shortlist. Wondering what to do in San Francisco? Mr Hudson has got you covered.

The best hotels in San Francisco

Impossibly luxurious, distinctive and inarguably chic; when it’s time call it a night, San Francisco teems with brilliantly posh hotels.

The epitome of elegance, The St. Regis San Francisco is one of San Francisco’s most iconic hotels. Paying homage to the very concept of luxury, each room at the St. Regis is a feast for the senses. For the utmost in indulgence, a stay in one of the St. Regis’ extravagantly appointed suites includes the hotel’s signature Butler service. And as if the ‘subtle details, tailored gestures, and genuine warmth’ promised by the hotel weren’t enough, guests to the St. Regis can also make use of the posh Remède Spa. Here, blissful treatments are delivered along with flutes of chilled champagne and a selection of hand-dipped truffles – all proffered in an opulent space with killer city views.

Delightfully edgy and thoroughly modern, San Francisco’s Hotel Zetta is a downtown haven that puts guests at the epicentre of everything fabulous. Located in the hip SoMa District, the Hotel Zetta gives a nod to techie indulgence with amenities including in-room butcher block desks, internet ready 46” smart flat screen televisions and G-LINK™ docking stations. When combined with complimentary toiletries by Neil George, Illy espresso machines, sumptuous down duvets and imported linens; the Hotel Zetta checks all the boxes savvy travellers need for a sweet stay.

You might find it hard to find the will to venture towards Fisherman’s Wharf when you have an oyster bar right outside your room. At San Francisco’s Hotel G, you’ll find yourself wrapped in a cloak of boutique-style luxury. Located at the very heart of the city, the hotel is steps from the cable cars, Moscone Center and Union Square. Hotel G even offers guests the quintessential San Francisco luxury of available valet parking – plus some of the freshest oysters ever to grace a table courtesy of the award-winning Benjamin Cooper Bar. Formerly the historic Fielding Hotel, Hotel G has been reinvented into a cosy, chic hotel that feels just like home – only cooler.

Hotel Zetta

Hotel Zetta

Where to eat in San Francisco

When John-Charles Boisset married Gina Gallo, wine worlds collided to create a meteoric galaxy custom made for die-hard oenophiles. Case in point, the JCB Tasting Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco. “Though she be but little, she is fierce” comes to mind when entering this diminutive, striking little jewel box. Deliciously decadent; the lounge is decked out with purple velvet settees set atop leopard print rugs and a Harry Potter-esque collection of digital masterworks that graces the walls with everything from Magritte’s ‘Son of Man’ to Picasso’s greatest hits. Don’t let the whimsical aesthetic fool you, though; the JCB Tasting Lounge is serious when it comes to tasting flights that soar.

After cocktails, head over to 1601 Bar and Kitchen where Chef Brian Fernando’s Sri Lankan roots join forces with his French culinary training. While the inimitable Portuguese Octopus is stellar by all accounts, those having trouble deciding what to order can always opt for Fernando’s curated, degustation menu – impeccably designed to hit all the chef’s high spots.

From the unmarked entrance on Jones Street to the labyrinth of secret tunnels beneath, everything about Bourbon & Branch has an uncanny knack to have you feeling like Gatsby in less time than it takes to swing a croquette mallet. Guests who come to the tony bar for a nightcap are warned, “don’t even think about ordering a Cosmo”. No worries – there’s plenty more options for your empty glass thanks to an impressively crafted cocktail menu. True aficionados can go old school with a selection from an extensive bourbon list that includes hand numbered offerings from Noah’s Mill and Buffalo Trace. Or, for an experience nothing short of ‘spiritual’, indulge in a wee dram of their covetable, Glenmorangie Margaux Finish Scotch – Bourbon & Branch lays claim to one of the few bottles of the stuff available anywhere this side of Edinburgh.

And if you’re a bit of a chocoholic, make your way to Dandelion Chocolate in the Mission District for the most heavenly, artisan chocolate in town that is also sustainably sourced.

Dandelion Chocolate | Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux

Dandelion Chocolate | Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux

Things to do in San Francisco

While it may be on the ‘To Do’ list of every San Francisco tourist, a trip to The Rock might uncover a few surprises even seasoned Franciscophiles have yet to experience. A tour of the Gardens of Alcatraz takes guests through the restored grounds while also telling a fascinating about life on The Rock – not for the inmates, but for the prison staff and their families who called the ominous island home. It is not for nothing that this is one of the most famous San Francisco points of interest.

Fans of Armistead Maupin will appreciate Tours of the Tales, an inspired way to bring Maupin’s books and films to life through a collection of curated San Francisco tours. Available in PDF format, the tours even come with Google Map hyperlinks to ensure you spend more time enjoying the destinations and less time navigating them.

Once a blue-collar neighbourhood dotted with industry, the reinvented area of Dogpatch is worthy of high praise. Try a beignet from Just For You – it’s been rumoured that just one bite can make a grown man cry. Then, wipe your tears and get ready to channel your inner Bear Grylls with a trip to the decidedly rugged Triple Aught Design where chic camping couture and accoutrement for the outdoorsman abounds.

San Francisco Blue Angels | Photo: Gina Samarotto

San Francisco Blue Angels | Photo: Gina Samarotto

Shopping in San Francisco

After whetting your appetite at the local watering holes, further fuel your interest in life’s finer, liquid moments with a visit to Cask and their enormous selection of libations. Famous for offering rare and limited edition bottles, Cask even has an in-house engraving service where your favourite can be personalized with a name, monogram, message or custom artwork. Once you’ve chosen your poison, round out the day by heading to Acacia on Valencia Street and browse their collection of inspired glassware from which to serve it.

In a ready to wear world, a made to measure siren’s song can be strong. And once you see the stunning array of custom made suits, jackets, and trousers created by Seymour’s on Sutter Street, you’ll see how forty years of experienced craftsmanship works to your advantage. For bespoke with an edgier vibe, head to one of Taylor Stitch’s two San Francisco locations. In this ‘no appointment required’ atelier, a custom shirting department is complemented by off the rack options produced in small quantities – all the better to make a one of a kind fashion statement with ease.

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