I have wanted to stay at this place when it opened a few years back, but I was living in San Francisco at the time; and although it was not uncommon for anybody to stay in a hotel in a city where they lived, it was difficult to get a reservation because the hotel became really popular, not only with the younger crowd, but also with the attendees of the nearby Moscone Convention Center.
Having had my first ever W experience in Seattle only a week or so before, I was curious to see how this San Francisco branch would compare to its Seattle counterpart. W succeeded in creating similar ambients in at least these two locations: each having a dimly-lit lobby area with minimalist décor and a thumping beat of house music that got louder as the day gave way to the evening. The music did not stop there: at each floor in the elevator waiting area, house music kept on thumping. I was afraid that from my room, which unfortunately was not too far from that elevator area, I would be able to hear that noise, but luckily, I could not.
The room had a familiarity to it since I just stayed in the Seattle one: dark wood head-board, brown comforter cover, but this time with four elongated, slender pillows, the shape of which I had never seen before (and I have seen quite many different permutations of a pillow). Even the adjustable bed-lights and the twin lamps by the window seats were exactly how one would find them in the Seattle location. The only difference was the blind: this location used a “window-like” blind where you could actually open inward to reveal the view. The Seattle location used a top-bottom white, wooden draw blind.
So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this place. Much of my disappointment with this hotel came from the inconsistency of the housekeeping services. For this trip, I stayed long enough to observe the working habit from day to day. Regardless of who cleaned the room, there should be a check-list of what needed to be done every day. For example, there was only one day when the melted ice in the ice-bin was thrown away. At other times, I came home to find a bin with tepid water from last night’s melted ice. There was also the stocking of towels, or lack thereof: twice I looked and found that the two missing bath towels were never replaced. Sure, there were still the other two, but at least even them out by moving one towel to the other stack. It was in such details that this San Francisco W housekeeping lacked.
For a hotel that strove to present itself as hip, the chain should have employed the use of flat screen or plasma televisions. Instead, in both of the locations where I have stayed, cathode-ray tubes were mounted on a pivotable-platform and enshrined in an entertainment center that could be closed up. How quaint!
There was a 24-hour gym, which worked great for late night sleeper like I was. There were about 5 or 6 treadmills and some Nautilus machines. Swimming pool was small and shallow, not that great for lap swimming. Pool was indoor, but directly adjacent to this area was an open-air area with private cabanas.
On the way to the gym one would pass by the in-house Spa with their trademark aquamarine palette (the walls, the uniforms, their products…). I went for the manicure pedicure, which facility lay directly next to the check-in area: noisy. One could don a head-set and listen to soothing music or tune to the selected videos or television programs. Treatment was not up to par. Even a chic salon (called Glow) in Surabaya (Indonesia) delivered a much better service and treatment in this department. I kid you not!
Overall, it was a pleasant stay. Personally, I felt slightly a bit too old for this crowd. W probably scores better among the 35 and under. Every night when I returned to the hotel, I had to fight my way through the dark lobby reverberating with house music and filled with the young crowd. Some nights I would hear noises coming from the hallway; noises that reminded me of drunken hallmates coming back from frat parties during my college days.
The W Hotel San Francisco
181 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 777-5300