There’s only one place I want to stay when I’m in San Francisco, and that’s the Intercontinental San Francisco. (Actually, that’s not quite true. I love the Argonaut hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf, but I like my Royal Ambassador perks more.)
After looking up the IHG Friends & Family rate for Jeanne’s birthday weekend and checking for any Travel Zoo deals, I decided to go with a BOGO weekend night cert. rooms were $179 a night, the King Junior Suite, only $259. Based on my previous experiences and other reviews, I knew typically the IC would upgrade Royal Ambassador’s by one room class. So I was hoping by paying the extra $80 for a weekend, we’d get upgraded to a full 1 BR suite.
I checked on my reservation intermittently beforehand, but it still showed the Junior Suite. At check in, which wound up being after 1AM,I asked what upgrade we’d been given. I was told reservations using the BOGO certificates were not eligible for upgrades, but that it wouldn’t have matter because they were sold out of suites.
I would be interested to know which it actually was – were they sold out of suites and the person at check in just “made up” the no upgrade when using a BOGO certificate to explain why, or is this yet another data point that IHG is continuing to devalue their elite customers. I am not my rate!
We arrived at the room, which I was actually pretty happy with (although wishing I had booked a regular room and been upgraded to this one). The Junior Suites are extra large corner rooms, with wall to wall windows on two sides, including in the bathroom.
Bathroom– windows the entire length on the right
View from the room
We had the usual fresh fruit and water amenities as well as a super nice birthday dessert plate both nights for Jeanne. They had also customized the welcome note to recognize I was a returning customer. Interestingly enough, the note outlining my RA benefits did mention a complimentary upgrade to a suite upon availability.
The next morning we headed down to the lounge for breakfast.This is one of my favorite hotel lounges. It’s got a good view, its brightly lit and I like the décor. It’s not the most posh lounge I’ve been in, but it’s well laid, and extremely inviting.
They had a nice spread for breakfast, with lots of fresh fruit options, meats & cheeses, and a lot of pastries. The one down side was that the only hot items were bacon and scrambled eggs, but at least those were good. The high tech coffee maker is pretty daunting so most people were just going with the carafes of pre-brewed coffee on the side. I did think the mimosas were a nice touch.
The evening hors d’oeuvres were also nice. Not really enough to make a dinner, but great if you’re just feeling snackish or want drinks before going out for a meal. They have an extensive selection of liquors, but we opted for glasses of the Domaine Ste Michelle sparkling wine, which is not as good as the house 888 they had a few years ago, but still perfectly respectable. After spending an entire day tasting wine, we weren’t really in the mood for much more anyway.
To me, the highlight of the lounge, and perhaps even the Intercontinental is Luis. Luis presides over the evening lounge and really makes it an amazing experience. He’s attentive, he makes sure everyone has had as much as they want before switching between appetizers and desserts, and is just generally welcoming and charming.
When transitioning to the dessert hour, he wheeled out all the desserts on a cart, complete with liqueurs and served everyone personally before setting up the displays.
There were a few details about the hotel that weren’t perfect – our minibar was never refilled, the wireless internet would come and go, etc but I love the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff.
When we went to check out the next day at 12:30, there was along line of people checking in. I stopped by the concierge desk to see if there was another option and he immediately had a representative on the phone who could check us out.
A few random notes:
If you have a car, there’s a parking garage immediately behind the hotel that offers $32 a day (or less) parking rate,which is much better than the $60 valet option. If you’re coming in after 6PM on Friday and can move your car before 7AM (or wake up to feed the meter dollar coins), there’s plenty of metered parking on Howard St. If you can get back to the hotel by 6PM on Saturday, you can park your car for free through Monday morning at any metered spot.
I’m not a huge fan of the Agraria amenities, particularly the conditioner. As Jeanne put it, it made my bangs look like a Hoo from Hooville all weekend.
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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.
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