Monday, May 04, 2009

The Ritz Carlton San Francisco

I’m back in San Francisco almost exactly one month after I was last here. I’ve always loved this city and I’m contemplating moving here when my lease is up in New York in August. It’s the perfect size, the weather is a more benign version of England’s, the food & restaurants are exceptional and I have lots of splendid friends & acquaintance. The hills aren’t quite such a draw: I haven’t got used to driving at 45 degrees, although I’m certainly appreciating being perched on top of Nob Hill right now.

That’s because after a wonderful week staying with one of my oldest friends, Julian Shah-Tayler in his huge crazy house full of musicians in LA’s Koreatown, and fifteen hours of driving up the coast road (I took a very circuitous scenic route), I have retreated into the luxurious splendour of the San Francisco Ritz Carlton for two days.

And, really, there is no better place to hole up in this city of great hotels. Although the hotel is large (336 rooms), and the frontage staggeringly neo-classically impressive, it’s actually rather intimate in scale. There are no echoing bare corridors here: gently lit by sconces, the carpet sinks beneath your feet, and the staff gently whisk through, greeting you by name.

I’ve been given a delicious 900 square foot suite on the Club Floor and, consequently have not left the hotel today. There’s a dedicated drawing room for Club guests, with giant glass jars of home baked cookies (I’ve been positioned right next to it all afternoon), and complimentary snacks are served all day. With copy to file and books to read, I can’t see any reason to stick my nose outside in the rain.

And by ‘snacks’ I mean a proper breakfast, cheese & appetizers at lunchtime, full afternoon tea, hors d’oeuvres in the early evening and deserts & chocolate fondue later on. Did I mention the full bar?

The Club Floor even offers complimentary pressing so, whilst I hotfooted it down to the Fitness Center to swim, steam and Jacuzzi myself into oblivion, my crumpled silk dresses, cocktail frocks and tux were picked up and promptly returned looking pristine in hanging zipper covers.

But it’s my room that has me properly cocooned in luxe-ness. Without wishing to rub it in, I’m no stranger to the five star hotel room: I’ve reviewed more of them than I can count, from Barcelona to Miami, Bangkok to Ibiza. Not a lot impresses me any more, and in my private life I’m just as likely to bed down in a youth hostel as I am in a smart hotel. After all, it’s only a bed. And, whether or not I'm being comped, high end or low, if I don't like it, I'll tell you.

But then you stay somewhere that gets it so right that you start to wish that ginormous one bedroom suites came as standard. Although it’s not just the jaw dropping size of my current quarters that has me impressed (after all, size isn’t everything), it’s the attention to detail. I’m obsessed with this. I’ve stayed in too many hotels obviously designed by men for men, that forget we need hair conditioner, cotton wool, full length mirrors, somewhere well lit to put on make-up that isn’t the edge of a basin unit, plenty of hangers - padded & wooden, large safes for purses & laptops and more than one luggage stand. And that’s for starters.

My room has all this. And more. Much, much more. 1000 thread count Frette sheets & ten cloud like pillows on my king size bed. There’s a ring stand by the basin, a full manicure set, a glass jar of cotton wool, an alarm clock, Bulgari toiletries from after-shave to facial moisturizer, piles & piles of fluffy towels, an iPod dock, a professional make up mirror on the separate dressing table, an LCD TV in the bathroom and a marble shower big enough for… well, you get the idea.

I had a squint at the entry level rooms here, the Deluxes, and they are just as well proportioned, (4-500 sq ft) with the same attention to detail: I noted the pot plants on the desks, umbrellas, ironing boards and mini-dressing areas.

In fact I am so blissfully happy in my current quarters that I am considering nipping back upstairs to hide in the suite’s loo after I check out. Or maybe in the separate dressing room. Or perhaps behind the sofa in the living room. Or behind the vast flat screen TV in the bedroom.

LLG is a guest of the Ritz Carlton San Francisco

Photo: my bedroom