San Francisco has many unique districts, but its beating heart is the small square-ish block of Union Square. Pitting luxe designer stores against boutique outfits, high-end restaurants against cafes, delis and brasseries, and art galleries against museums, the centre is abuzz with tourists and locals alike; and smack-bang in the middle of the Union Square is the Taj Campton Place, a century-old hotel that has seen it all over the years. Occupying two historic structures, it is now a Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces managed property. But the Indian influences following the group’s management takeover are far and few in between and relatively subtle, save for the masterful service standards that are synonymous with the Taj group.
Despite the royal blue canopied entrance, the entry to Taj Campton Place, down the side of Stockston Street, befits the hotel it is: arcane, discreet, quiet, with an air of distinction. The doorman quickly grasped that I was a guest coming from the airport and was about to check-in, and helped me accordingly. He graciously opened the doors, revealing the long, thin, slightly cramped lobby, and the welcoming but small marbled reception. In the foyer, socialites sit and chat before making their way on to the bar for drinks, a regular occurrence, signaling the importance of this hotel in the city’s high society.
My Deluxe King room with a premium Frette king bed is 325-360 square feet with a seat quietly tucked away onto the ledge by the window, with a beautiful view over Union Square district. The contemporarily classic Italian design is elegant and sophisticated, although the bland monotonous sand colour palate can appear tiresome after a while. The fittings and furnishings could urgently do with an upgrade and update – which we understand is soon to come sometime this year. However, despite this, the room is very well laid out and echoes a beautifully designed bedroom at home, forgoing the sense that you are actually in a hotel.
A separate bath tub and shower is a luxury in a bathroom in a city hotel, so it is refreshing to see this particular luxury embedded into the long, narrow limestone-clad bathroom, with an oversized open shower. The highlight here is the very refreshing and luxurious amenities provided by Molton Brown of London.
The Campton Place Restaurant is equally as historic as the hotel itself, having garnered itself a Michelin-star in 2011. The menu is Euro-Californian, with San Francisco’s affinity with the coast meaning seafood takes centre stage. Favourites include the Dungeness crab and Arctic char. Daily breakfast is also served here, but I opted for in-room dining for my one breakfast at the hotel, which was excellent.
Arguably the highlight of the hotel, though, is its unique fitness centre: a small open-air outdoor terrace supplied by TechnoGym treadmills and machines with views over the downtown district.
Other nice touches
City hotels have traditionally lagged behind resorts when it comes to free WiFi, and in particular some chains have failed to catch up, charging ridiculous rates for daily use. It was refreshing to see Taj Campton Place having changed their policy on this during my stay, offer complimentary WiFi access, which in a city hotel where one might be staying for business, is vital and crucial.
The entry-level room is the California King. Room rates for a Deluxe King start at USD325 per night, plus taxes.
The best bit
Although the hotel has areas it can severely improve upon (that we expect soon to be rectified), there are a multitude of positives that more than make up for it: primary of which are the location and the service. It’s hard to beat the hotel’s footprint in the centre of downtown, and the gracious service is a friendly welcome back home.
The final verdict
My first stay in San Francisco was a very pleasant one: with genuinely warm, welcoming service tinged with a courtesy that befits the setting and mirrors the best of Taj’s palaces, the Taj Campton Place is more a home than a hotel – exuding the air of a well-appointed serviced apartment, and the hotel at which I felt most at home during my San Francisco trip, and one I very much look forward to revisiting some day following the impending renovation.