Since 1945, the Huntington Hotel has served as San Francisco’s premier address. Our reputation for quiet, understated luxury has made the hotel a favorite among savvy travelers who prefer individuality. We asked our guests to write about their experiences with us, and received an overwhelming number of heart-felt stories. Below are a few memoirs from our guests…
"Why I went in and have never left…"
“It was my 3rd night in San Francisco, just moved here and did not know anyone or where to go. The night was foggy and cool and I was walking around just enjoying the eerie night and all the neighborhoods. After trying the Fairmont lobby bar and feeling the place and people were a bit stuffy and pretentious and that no one wanted to actually engage in conversation I continued my stroll fascinated by the architecture and history of Nob Hill. I was passing the beautiful entry door to the Huntington Hotel's Big Four and I thought the place looked nice but would be stuffy like the Fairmont so I was just planning on passing by and keep my stroll going when a dapper dressed man who at first only added to my thinking it was another pretentious place stopped to hold the door open thinking I was entering after him. I paused. He smiled, held the door open for me and said "come on in you will love it." He was a local named Ali who turned out to own a penthouse just across the street.”
“So I relaxed a bit but was still reluctant. I walked in. I stopped to enjoy the glass cabinets with odd little curios and apothecary bottles etc at the entry. I stared at the rich dark wood interior, the piano man smiling at me and nodding his head, the paintings on the walls and all the history they told. I peeked into the lobby and got a nice tour of the Spa by the staff and was showed a room that was very unique with a great view and learned they used to be apartments. I was delighted to find a unique boutique hotel reminiscent of an era gone by but still in its glory.”
“I bellied up to the bar. Mind you I'm no millionaire and though dressed casually nice there were folks really dressed up so I felt intimidated but the bartender named Ty immediately broke the ice and made me feel welcome. My friend Ali who coaxed me in at the door was next to me and wanted to buy me a drink. He is an animated and smiling man. The other patrons were friendly and I did not feel it was stuffy or pretentious as they all were smiling and engaging and Ty slipped me a little bowl of peanuts and like that... I was feeling right at home.”
“After Ali and I passed a few rounds back and forth and Ty did an amazing presentation of the Chicken Pot Pie entree (yep they actually have the old school pot pie done in a fanciful style) and I enjoyed the Mezze Plate appetizer ,which I shared with a few of my new local pals, I was thinking its been fun and its time to go. Ali who was telling funny stories to us all refused to let me leave without "just one more drink." The decision to stay for another round led me to the most life changing moment of my entire life.”
“As Ali was telling his tall tales I noticed a beautiful tall brunette my age belly up to the bar next to me. She said " hi oh my gosh I'm so hungry may I share your peanuts?" We started to chat and I learned she had just moved here too and was her 1st time there also. She had some business with the hotel as she is an event planner. Ali was so happy that I came and that I was talking to this beautiful girl he bought us yet another round of drinks. Millionaire that he is you would not know it. Like most the patrons they are wealthy but not stuffy or pretentious like the Fairmont. They were all down to earth and friendly and I even got to request a song that Michael the piano man was happy to play. Turns out the girl I was chatting with, her parents were lounge singers back in the day so she loved my song request and the warm, happy ambiance in the Big Four too. We talked until Ty was calling last call and the music was fading.”
“After making a few friends and exchanging a few biz cards I asked if the girl I was speaking with would like to meet here again for more peanuts. She laughed and said yes. My heart pounded with joy as she was stunning and sweet. 1 year later that very girl when I asked her to marry me said yes again! Where did we go to celebrate after our engagement, The Huntington Hotel's Big Four, our little special place hidden off the main drag of busy Nob Hill inside the warmest ambiance of place and people one could ever hope for. Ali was not there and I'm told he makes random appearances so I felt lucky he coaxed me in when I was just planning on passing by. I am thankful to Ty for his welcoming me when clearly I'm no millionaire but was made to feel like one while there.”
“We go back often to laugh with Ty and the locals and tourists alike in the hopes of one day running into Ali again to thank him profusely as he led me to my wife, my life, my sweetpea.”
“Thank you Ty, Michael, Simon, Ali and all the staff. You will always have a very special place in our hearts. Damn good peanuts too!”
-Joe and Fiona
My daughter, the coast guard
“Our story is not a romantic one but very special to us. Our daughter was in the US Coast Guard and stationed in Alameda, she was returning from a 9 month deployment with the US Navy US Boxer Expediciary Force at Sea. My husband and I went to San Francisco to greet our daughter upon her return from the deployment, we had a room and we also reserved a room for our daughter to stay with us there. The Huntington Management upon hearing of our daughter’s deployment upgraded her to a beautiful suite for her comfort, during our 4 day stay at the Huntington your staff went out of their way to make our daughter feel extra special, every staff member thanked her for serving in our Armed Forces. To this day, it brings tears to my eyes for the kindness given to my daughter.”
My daughter, Shannon and I stayed at the Huntington Hotel for her graduation present. Shannon graduated from San Francisco State University in May 2013. When she was young we would occasionally stay at a local hotel for a girl’s weekend with just the two of us. I wanted to re-kindle this tradition now that she is grown. Having been to only a few high-end resorts with my husband of 26 years, I was drawn in by the Huntington Hotel website. I wanted this celebration for her accomplishment to be a memorable experience for years to come; and the Huntington Hotel did not disappoint!
When we drove up to the curbside and were greeted by a most friendly bell man who welcomed us with his warm smile, good looks, and gracious attitude, I knew I had chosen correctly. The front entrance and lobby is so inviting and luxurious. We settled in quickly on the relaxing couches in the front room while the staff prepared our room. Everyone was so helpful, kind, and courteous while we were filled with awe and anticipation for a pleasant stay.
The room was spectacular, spacious and streamlined. I could tell by the look on my daughter’s face that she would get the rest, relaxation, and reward she so deserved after her great achievement. This was the perfect way to let her know how much we love her and how proud we are of her hard work and devotion to complete her college education.
My husband and I have a special tradition of sharing a bottle of Schramsberg Champagne at each Anniversary and major milestones; so of course, we brought along a bottle of Blanc de Noir for our special celebration. Upon registration the desk clerk made sure the bottle was set up in an ice bucket and ready for our arrival when we got into our room. We promptly settled into our comfy robes and popped the cork, quite readily giving in to the indulgence.
In our robes with glasses in hand we stepped onto the elevator to check out the spa. On the way down, the elevator stopped at the next floor and a man stepped in. You should have seen the look on his face. He was so charmed by the two of us. He appeared a bit flustered and said he would remember this moment forever â€“ he was getting married in an hour! I’m willing to bet he will be returning to the Huntington Hotel with his spouse to don their robes and sip champagne!
The spa was elegant, refreshing, and soothing to the soul. The pool is fantastic, the zen room transports you, and the balcony overlooks the grandeur of the city beyond. The food was exceptional. We enjoyed a quintessential lunch on the patio.
Next, we headed into the Nob Hill spa for a lavish spa treatment. Our treatments were sumptuous and a sublime way to congratulate ourselves for the not-always-easy journey we had traveled to obtain her college degree. After feeling completely relaxed and transformed we headed back to our rooms to get ready for dinner.
We dined in the Big 4 restaurant and shared stories freely, like two friends on a visit, rather than mother and daughter with hidden secrets. The dinner was elegant and so delicious. The wait staff was attentive and catered to our every need. After a day of complete extravagance we headed back to our room for a well-deserved and restful night’s sleep.
The tranquility of our visit lingered through the following morning as we re-visited the infinity relaxation pool, whirlpool and saunas for therapeutic relaxation. We were reinvigorated by breathing in the cleansing essence of the Eucalyptus steam room and spent a few more moments for personal reflection in the fireplace lounge. Browsing through the gift shop ended in a purchase of several healing essentials to face the world once again and as a lasting reminder of the serenity of our experience. Our stay at the Huntington Hotel was truly transformational and the perfect way to celebrate one of life’s major accomplishments.
Huntington Hotel, Then and Now
My husband, Joe, and I stayed in room 403 at the Huntington Hotel in March 1964 for our honeymoon. At the time, I was only 20 - not old enough to legally drink! While our memories have faded along with our hair color, we have not forgotten the 60's-era luxury accommodations, where rooms were $18.00, room service dinner for two was $6.76 and parking garage fees were $2.50. Now, two children, four grandchildren and almost 50 years later, we can't think of a better way to spend our golden anniversary than to stay at the Huntington Hotel and rekindle the romance of 1964. This time I'm old enough to drink that complimentary bottle of champagne. -Janet (We are attaching a copy of our original hotel receipt).
I had the pleasure of staying at the Huntington Hotel during Super Bowl weekend of 2012. My girlfriend at the time and I spent two nights there after touring Napa with friends who won a contest of a private wine blending with Michael Mondavi. I used to live and work in San Francisco from 2005-2007 working as a chef at Fleur de Lys and Aqua and my apartment was two blocks away from the property at 1216 Clay Street. I absolutely love Nob Hill, and could not think of no better place to reside when returning to the city by the bay. After checking in, my girlfriend had booked a spa appointment, so I took the opportunity to explore the Nob Hill plateau again, picking up some beverages and snacks at Le Beau market (my fav) and walking by my old place, then joining her in the relaxation area of the spa, which was really pleasant and zen-like. We had a incredible two days, ordering breakfast room service, eating at a wine dinner at Morton's down the hill, Delfina in the Mission, dim sum at Yank Sing, having late night drinks at Top of the Mark and the Tonga Room and using your wonderful chaffeur service to take us to the Ferry Building and Union Square. It turned out to be an amazing, memorable trip because I proposed to her crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a bike rental trip and we were married just around a year later in February of 2014. We watched the Super Bowl in our bed, enjoying our special moment and listening to the cable car bell with the windows open. We loved the old-world charm of the Huntington, the wonderful amenities and friendly and helpful staff. It was a truly memorable trip for us, the experience in Napa, then returning to SF and climaxing with becoming engaged! The Huntington will always be our first pick when returning to San Francisco.
Annual Fall Retreat
For several years now, my wife and I have made The Huntington Hotel an annual fall retreat. The home has become, for us, our anchor to the west coast. More than an elaborate backdrop, the hotel is familiar respite from vocational stresses and a nurturing berth to northern coastal exploits. Upon entry, our New York frenzied cadence is masterfully reset with a more relaxed tempo.
We are reasonably well-travelled and have vacationed in a variety of locales. Prior to 2005, we were blissfully border-agnostic. Since then, The Huntington Hotel has become the focal point from which all other trips are measured in both distance and quality.
Given our regularity at hotel over the past eight years, pinpointing one singular experience to elucidate our attachment proves problematic.
Upon our first visit, we were met by an enthusiastic bellhop who provided a detailed tour of the mansion's unique architectural attributes. More impressively, he recounted the Industrial Age origins that instill the home, and Nob Hill, with their pride of place in the San Francisco cityscape.
On each of our trips, we frequent the spa to take in all its offerings. In particular, we enjoy a post-massage lounge on the outdoor patio in the brisk fall air with a view of the financial district. In 2009, we were able to share our favorite venue with champagne and friends on a group trip. Our approbations did not disappoint.
In 2010, a gracious Concierge indulged our jet lag with an unsolicited upgrade to an enviable suite. The oversized room proved to be a cordial reprieve from a rare instance of inclimate autumn weather.
Habitually, we indulge in Big 4's chicken pot pie while seated in upholstered leather by the ornately crafted fireplace. Other restaurants in San Francisco may claim the ephemeral mantle of the cultural zeitgeist, but they fail to distinguish their design language regardless of their culinary bent. Big 4's interior, however, maintains the proud vocabulary of the city's founding industrialists. Deftly, the restaurant eschews the mild tones that have become the ubiquitous, minimalist palate of modern eateries and embraces the rich, bold mahogany of gilded age grandeur.
With each visit, we are impressed by the staff's clear sense of recognition that they are guardians of a storied home. All employees we've encountered take palpable pride in their stewardship of the house and its history.
These anecdotal accounts, individually, speak highly of the hotel's employees and amenities. Collectively, they paint a portrait of welcoming harbor on the Hill. Unlike other destinations, San Francisco's Huntington Hotel is not a voyeuristic escape to an exotic destination. It is, for us, a homecoming in grand style
For any reader looking for a proper conclusion, you will be left disappointed. This is a tale whose narrative carries forward. Ideally, with continued regularity. The Huntington Hotel provides that distinctive setting to our personal narrative, imbuing our story with the required sense of place. And for that, we thank you.
The PERFECT NIGHT
My experiences at the Huntington Hotel are difficult to limit to one. When I moved on my own to the city it was where through tears I watched my parents car pull away from and where still go when I want to feel like home. It is were my husband proposed and were we spent 30 & 40th birthday bashes.
However, I think my favorite story was The PERFECT NIGHT. It was a Tuesday night in San Francisco and my parents were visiting from the Midwest. It was cocktail hour and we had just scored the PERFECT table. You might know the one, leather green mahogany chairs, just the right size table to share with a few friends/family members (my husband especially loves the table with the names of the big 4 carved in), close to the fireplace but still the PERFECT distance to hear Michael, and those addictive nuts... We had all ordered one of the Huntington's signature martini's and my mom had just requested "It's a Wonderful World". After traveling all the way across the country we figured that we SHOULD venture out of the Huntington occasionally and hit up one of San Francisco's many fine restaurants. Cynthia was kind enough to hook us up with a resie at Salt. We reluctantly left the PERFECT setting, Jason flagged us a cab and we were off on a new adventure. The place was bustling and the menu looked great (and unfamiliar). Our drinks were on the way but everyone was quiet. It only took one look at each other and my dad says "How late do you think they serve those pot pies?" It was moments later he was on the phone securing us 4 pot pies. After a graceful departure we were soon back to the PERFECT evening and welcomed back by Ania. Back to those leather green chairs but this time negotiating the crowd of regulars and some loyal tourists. Michael was still playing his "heart out" and the pot pies were wonderful as always.
I will always think of the big 4 & the Huntington is the place where memories were made over great cocktails, great music, great food with great company.
The best thing about hip replacement surgery was my decision to recover post-op at the Huntington Hotel. Your staff was beyond considerate, courteous and friendly, upgrading us when they spotted my semi-mobile condition. My ice needs were speedily met. Your room service menu alone made me glad I was there. The beautiful suite my wife and I shared, with the huge window overlooking Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park, gave us best views of two weddings over six days plus excellent people-in-the-park watching. Mel Gibson's apology tour played the Masonic Auditorium across Taylor Street, providing us further entertainment from on high. The spa made recuperation a joy. And not only that. It was spring 2011 and you thoughtfully arranged to have the British royal wedding, the successful assault on Bin Laden and the premiere of The Voice nonstop on television to distract and entertain us. Your business center was just the place for me to compose thank you letters to my doctors and hospital staff. I may need to have my knees done next and I can truly say I'm looking forward to another chance to convalesce with you.
Comfort in a time of crisis
“Several years back we made rush reservations at the Huntington, not really knowing the hotel. We were coming to S.F. on a family emergency and we were both quite upset with the circumstances of our journey. As it turned out, on top of everything else that accompanied this trip, our plane was 4 hours late. We did not get in until Midnight. We were sure that we had lost our reservations. When we arrived, we found the staff on duty and treating our arrival as if it were 3 in the afternoon. They calmed us down and showed us to our room...yes, our original room had been given away, but now we were placed in a beautiful suite. It set the tone for our stay. We were able to get a wonderful nights’ sleep, take care of the family crisis the next day and then return to the hotel for one more night of luxury and a dinner. We have always been grateful to the staff for that weekend. Thank you for all you did to contribute to our happy outcome. We have returned on different occasions and stayed with you and found the same concern for our comfort...even without the crisis.”
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