Monday, December 19, 2011

San Francisco: Sleeping like a royal at the Palace Hotel

I went to San Francisco to absorb some holiday spirit San Francisco style.  I slept like a queen at the Palace Hotel in a double bed that I hated to leave behind.  My bed's allergy-free comforter and pillows were heavenly.  (I wonder if Tony Bennett ever sang "I left my bed in San Francisco" following a stay here.)

Room 805 at the Palace Hotel
 (All photographs by Terry Gardner)

Opening in 1875, by the time the Palace turned 31, Oscar Wilde and presidents Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant had slept there. Actress Sarah Bernhardt checked in with her baby tiger.   I had written about the Palace last December for the Los Angeles Times in a story about Grand old California hotels.  (The original Palace burned in the San Francisco fire which followed the 1906 earthquake.  The new Palace opened in 1909.)

Swimming at the Palace was my #1 San Francisco holiday activity.  The Palace has an  indoor heated lap pool on the fourth floor, which was added in 1989 when the hotel was restored and updated.   Except for Saturday morning, I had the pool and jacuzzi to myself between 8 and 9 a.m.  I may not have slept in the Presidential Suite, but I felt like a VIP enjoying an amenity that neither Winston Churchill or Mark Twain were able to enjoy.

The lap pool is heated at just the right temperature
unlike some heated pools where it feels like you're swimming in bath water.

Free historic tours of the Palace are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  The tour can also be booked with a prix fixe lunch at the Garden Court for $25.  (Reservations are required: (415) 546-5089.)

Here are some photographic highlights from my stay at the Palace.  

The Palace exterior, decked out for the holidays
Visitors judging gingerbread competition

Gumps gingerbread house pictured

L to R: Hound dog Christmas, Farmers Market and
Gingerbread House with Reindeer that bring vino.

 I not only voted for the Best Gingerbread House at the Palace, I fell hard for the Bloody Mary's served at both the Garden Court restaurant and the famed Pied Piper bar (noted for its "Mad Men" style Martinis). 

Hopefully, it was the flash and not the Bloody Mary that turned my eyes red!
The Maxfield Parish "Pied Piper of Hamlin" painting is well worth a toast or two.
My waitress snapped this.

Next up, a look at my  49-plus hours in San Francisco.

[Disclosure: my stay was complimentary at the Palace, but I was responsible for all meals, internet charges, etc.]


  1. After seeing these pics no one can stop himself/herself to visit San Fransisco. If one want to live a royal life for some days than must plan luxury holidays to San Fransisco.

  2. Joe,
    Sometimes travelers can find deals at posh hotels like The Palace by checking the hotel's website for deals as well as Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity. If you belong to AAA, one of their travel agents may be able to help you score a deal