From Golden Gate Park to cable car rides, San Francisco has plenty of kiddie appeal. But as city destinations go, most hotel rooms in town are tight and limiting when traveling en familie. Which is why The Fairmont Heritage Place at Ghirardelli Square, with its 53 two- and three-bedroom residences along the waterfront, delivers in spades.
First off, the property functions as an exclusive residence club: some condos are rented out as extended-stay hotel rooms, others under ownership. For us, the apartment-like features (a well-stocked kitchen and washer-dryer), extra space and multiple bathrooms made it that much easier and convenient to be on the road with little ones. Plus, you still get those cherished hotel amenities of housekeeping and complimentary buffet breakfast.
The property even welcomed our children with a miniature cable car (which was prompted zoomed along the hardwood floors) and San Francisco-themed bib, as well as a San Francisco coloring book that came in handy at restaurants and on the plane. Needless to say, my family and I were instantly won over.
The Fairmont Heritage Place is housed within a part of the old Ghirardelli chocolate factory, dating to 1893. And so, the residences feature those original brick walls, along with a fireplace, flat-screen televisions and huge bathrooms (with sunken tubs and Le Labo rose-scented toiletries). In general, the spaces feel very contemporary and clean, swathed in a palette of chocolate browns and purples and deep blues. Some residences even feature a bedroom with Murphy beds, chevron beanbags, and whimsical art, which seems oh-so-perfectly configured for kids.
As well-stocked as the gourmet kitchen was, we didn’t do much cooking ourselves. But it served us incredibly well at breakfast (we brought up a spread of pastries and berries each morning from the buffet) and dinner since we had a dining table where we could congregate and a fridge to store perishables like milk and fruit. Should you be inclined to whip something up, you’ll find everything from measuring spoons to saucepans.
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The property sits right on the water, on the West side of Fisherman’s wharf, and even features a gorgeous terrace overlooking the bustling square and the bay just beyond. A house car offers guests rides within a two-mile radius, which happens to the include The Exploratorium at Pier 15. Quite conveniently, the Powell-Hyde cable car line is just a block away as well.
Since there’s no restaurant on-site, room service arrives from nearby restaurants in the square. Admittedly, the dining options in and around the square are a bit touristy; consider instead the nearby family-friendly neighborhood of Pacific Heights, which has great foodie spots like Pizzeria Delfina and Out the Door for dining in or taking out.
Valet parking is also included, which means you don’t have to keep circling the block looking for a spot. Since the property operates more as a private residence, there isn’t a central hub – a buzzing lobby or lounge – where guests congregate or mingle per se. But as a family traveler, it didn’t bother us at all.
Editor’s Note: The Fairmont Heritage Place offered Tanvi a media package to experience the hotel. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Tanvi Chheda unless otherwise noted.
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