The 200-room Hotel Vitale is located in the midst of San Francisco’s Embarcadero renaissance across from the Ferry Building Marketplace, near the financial district. The luxury hotel is ideally situated for those seeking everything from fresh seafood to fresh flowers from one of twenty farmers markets and specialty shops across the street. Amtrak, trolley service, Alcatraz, Treasure Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge and AT&T Ballpark are all close by.
San Francisco is serviced by San Francisco International Airport (SFO), with flights throughout the US, as well as gateways to Asia and Europe. I flew in from Phoenix and, with ten direct flights daily by several airlines, San Francisco is a great two-hour get away. It only took me about 20 minutes to get to the eight-story hotel by car from SFO (although I understand rush hour can substantially add to that journey).
If you choose to go to the hotel via Super Shuttle the cost is $20, while a taxi ride will make you dig a little deeper at $45 to $50, excluding tip. Also, for those on a tight budget and/or carrying few bags, BART (San Francisco’s light rail rapid transit system) will take you directly from the airport to the Embarcadero Station – a brief stroll from the hotel.
I was greeted by cheerful check-in staff on my arrival, which quickly processed my reservation and directed me through the spacious, “post-hip boutique” styled-lobby to the elevator and my third floor room.
A potpourri of restrained lavender, blue, green, yellow, and brown, accented by wheat and grasses artwork (Hotel Vitale’s interiors were designed by Colum McCartan), reflected Hotel Vitale’s “luxury, naturally” theme. The floor-to-ceiling windows offered gorgeous first-impression views of palm trees, San Francisco Bay, and the Marketplace. The spa-themed bathroom was spacious and “naturally” cheerful. The towels were thick and plenteous.
The room had one of the best stocked honor bars I have seen in a while and the pillow-topped king bed was especially comfortable with 440 thread-count sheets with a combination of two feather/down pillows and two foam ones. If the honor bar doesn’t satisfy you, 24-hour room service should fill the gap. My room, as do all rooms at the Vitale, came with a flat-screen TV, complimentary WiFi and CD player with a collection of discs offering several music genres. Two thick full-length robes are also provided in each room. While not offered in my room, the hotel tells me their circular suites offer 180-degree views of San Francisco Bay, which you can also enjoy from the soaker tub or your bed.
Sadly, for all its amenities, my room was not equipped with a coffee maker.
Services and Amenities
Hotel Vitale offers a plethora of amenities for both casual and business guests. A business center and boardroom complement 1700 sq. ft. of indoor conference space . Conference rooms have expansive rooftop event spaces with inspirational views of the Bay and surrounding area. The hotel also offers something called “Green Meetings packages” that incorporate “eco-friendly practices” for events or meetings.
The hotel provides complimentary car services to downtown and Old San Francisco. My driver was professionally attired in dark suit and tie, courteous and very knowledgeable about San Francisco and its history. For instance, did you know Amtrak used to own much of the land surrounding the hotel?
A penthouse day spa provides two outdoor rooftop soaking tubs situated in the midst of a bamboo forest and it too offers stellar views of the Bay and surrounding area. The spa offers everything from facials to organic massages but requires at least 24 hour advance notice for an appointment.
Located just off the lobby is the Italian themed Americano Restaurant and lounge. Chef Kory Stewart, who attended the California Culinary Academy, offers what he calls “robust Italian cooking” that changes frequently with the seasons. Americano incorporates products purchased daily from a nearby farmer’s market as well as from Bay area artisan producers. For lunch I sampled Kory’s superb house pasta del giorno spaghetti alla punttanesca, with tuna conserva, calabrian chili, and bottarga. A crisp glass of 2011 Stags’ Leap Napa Valley chardonnay perfectly complimented the pasta/tuna combination.
The following morning, my breakfast included some house-made yogurt and granola–with local wildflower honey – a wild mushroom scramble with grana-padano cheese, truffle oil, chicken apple sausage, toast and coffee. However, great food in the “Golden City” doesn’t come cheap: tax and tip for lunch and breakfast was around $40 each.
The restaurant features a trendy outdoor patio and “aromatherapy” garden. The enclosure faces the waterfront and caters to up-and-coming financial district executives, tourists, and those who just want to be part of the hip crowd. In fact, I was amazed just how quickly the patio started filling up at about 3 p.m. with young professionals during my mid-week visit . By 5:00 p.m. it was jammed. I asked one of the young business-attired execs sittings next to me if it was like this every day and he answered in the affirmative. Happy Hour might have had something to do with it: It runs 3 – 6 p.m. Saturday to Wednesday with wine and cocktails offered at $5 per glass; bottled beer at three bucks.
One unique feature of the Americano is that staff will temporarily store a hotel guest’s fish and food purchases in a dedicated area of a walk-in refrigerator if they’ve over indulged at the market. Morever, for what I think is a reasonable $15 to $35 charge, the restaurant will cook your procurements to order.
Recently, US News & World Report rated Hotel Vitale as one of San Francisco’s top hotels (http://travel.usnews.com). I concur. And although the hotel doesn't equal the splendor of The Fairmont, for example, it offers large, relaxing rooms, a restful sleep, and a very well-stocked honor bar.
Vitale’s location is a huge bonus as is Americano’s outdoor bar. My gripe about the lack of a coffee maker was later addressed by management who state, “Hotel Vitale provides complimentary coffee in the lobby and coffee makers in the room by request. The overall feel of the room is meant to be serene and comforting, with relaxing lavender, Hotel Vitale’s nod to a welcome wreath, greeting guests at the door. Some people do not enjoy the smell of coffee and they found it to be intrusive in the room for some, which is why a coffee machine is offered upon request.” Either that, or pack one before you head out the door.
- 200 guestrooms and suites, many with views that include the Bay Bridge, Ferry Building, and Treasure Island
- Americano’s offers “handcrafted soulful Italian cuisine” and features an expansive heated outdoor patio, a cocktail lounge offering views of the bay and private and semi-private dining space
- Spa Vitale on the penthouse level offers treatment rooms with water views and infinity soaking tubs surrounded by a bamboo garden
- Fitness studio and complimentary yoga classes; complimentary admission to a nearby state-of-the art fitness facility with swimming pool
- 3,500 square feet of outdoor and indoor meeting and event space, including four distinct terrace suites that can accommodate a variety of configurations
- 24-hour business center
- Free WiFi
- 24-hour room service
- Personalized concierge services
- Free daily newspaper delivery and shoeshine
- Weekday morning house car service within the local downtown area
- Close to public transportation, including cable cars, subway Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), ferries, Amtrak
- Beds with pillow-top mattresses, high thread count sheets and custom-designed bedding
- Limestone-covered bathrooms
- Luxurious bathrobes
- Flat-screen TVs, iPod/MP3 player docking stations, and CD players
- Honor bar with healthy and decadent options
- Upgraded rooms feature “soothing” sound machines, rainforest showerheads, slippers and luxury bath amenities
- Free luggage storage
- Valet parking ($50 for 24 hours)
- In-room laptop safe
- Iron and ironing board
8 Mission Street,
San Francisco, CA 94105