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Short stay: Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, California, USA

Housed in a decidedly commercial building, the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco might, at first glance, lack the character of some of the city’s other finer hotels, but, with a traditionally warm smile housed in the chain’s Asian roots, infused with the calmly unique nature of this fine American city, the hotel retains not only a very central space in the business district, but also an elegant style and aesthetic complemented by the courteous and attentive staff. The welcome I had previously briefly stopped by the hotel before my check-in date, so when I dropped by a day later to check-in, it was nice to be remembered by the front-desk staff, who eased the check-in process. Entrance to Mandarin Oriental San Francisco After years of visiting and reviewing luxury hotels, the cliché of a jaw-dropping entrance is a rare occurrence. But the entrance to the rooms at the Mandarin Oriental can really only be best described as jaw-dropping, as the stunning view takes over once the doors swing open. After being checked-in and escorted to my room to be shown the features of the room, I was asked, from a selection, what tea I would like for my welcome drink. Upon inquiring whether they had my favourite ginger tea, the hotel responded that they currently did not, but asked me if I could wait 30 minutes for my welcome drink. 30 minutes later, my ginger tea had arrived. The room Here, the Mandarin Oriental excels. With a colour-palette of refreshingly contemporary neutral tones, the 450 sq ft Premier Bridge to Bridge Room has one centre-piece, proudly displayed by multiple windows: a (truly) panoramic view of San Francisco, with the Golden Gate on one side, to the Bay Bridge on the other, interspersed with plenty of iconic landmarks such as the Transamerica Pyramid and Alcatraz Island all in view. The 400-thread king-size bed makes for a great viewing point for sunrise or sunset, and the space allowed in the room, with plenty of seating on offer, also makes this a surprisingly good workspace for the business-inclined. Premier Bridge to Bridge Room at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco View from Mandarin Oriental San Francisco The bathroom The bathroom reveals some of the hotel’s slightly dated aesthetic prior to its current makeover: deep-red Italian marble dominates the bathroom’s vanities and bathtub, creating a slight disconnect to the very clean tones of the main living space. However, there is a separate shower and bath, and the amenities provided by Aromatherapy Associates, custom-blended for Mandarin Oriental’s signature “Quintessence” are excellent. The facilities As was the theme of my trip, I only had time to check-out rather than try out the spa, but it certainly looked very inviting – and a throwback to the hotel chain’s Asian origins, with contemporary and Asian-influenced designs, housing three treatment suites and a relaxing tea lounge. Spa at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco The fitness centre is rather small, but a highlight is the morning “Yoga in the Sky”, which is performed on the 40th floor open skydeck, which frames a beautiful panorama of the city. Yoga at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco Despite housing 158 rooms and suites, in addition to the in-room dining, there is only one restaurant – Brasserie S&P, tucked away by the main entrance, which we tested out for a most excellent a-la-carte breakfast. Brassiere S&P also has a bar which makes evenings by the lobby lively. Brasserie S&P at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco Other nice touches The hotel set the standard a couple of days prior to my actual check-in: I had decided to drop by for a short impromptu visit during an early morning city hotel hopping tour. Before moving on to my next hotel, the staff at reception not only provided me with a very helpful map, but most thoughtfully a bottle of water for my mini-hike up to the next hotel (which they knew was situated up one of the city’s steepest streets and hills). I knew exactly what to look forward to during my brief stay, and it only got better from there. Cost Standard rooms start from USD465 per night, while rates at the Premier Bridge to Bridge room start from USD565 per night, not inclusive of any taxes and service charges. The best bit It’s a tough call between the fantastic service and the picturesque views, but the latter marginally wins out. While a few of the other San Francisco hotels managed to provide equally excellent service, none could match the view. The final verdict Despite lacking the exterior or historically-inclined façade to match some of the city’s other renowned hotels, the Mandarin Oriental, for its interiors, its space, the service and the views, takes the pick of the San Francisco hotels at which I stayed.

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  1. enjoyed your review. I have had drinks in the downstairs bar and enjoyed the ambience. Was wondering re: room views, is one side of building preferable over the others?

  2. Hi Rosemond – great to hear you enjoyed the review. I think it depends which view you’re looking for. West side of the building (if I’m correct, may have my orientation mixed up), looks out towards the Golden Gate Bridge and its nearby rolling hills with Alcatraz and the Trans America Pyramid all in view, while the East side looks out towards the Bay Bridge. I’d say the Western side is more scenic.

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