San Francisco’s Union Square is a hub of trendy and mainstay shopping and restaurants located in the heart of the city. The Westin St. Francis has anchored an entire city block on the Square since 1904, and today is a mix of updated elegance and modern convenience in an excellent location for sightseeing.
Families often wonder where they should base themselves in San Francisco, and Union Square is one of the preferred neighborhoods, especially with tweens and teens who like the action and those who have already visited the city.
Although the original hotel was built in 1904, two short years later, fires from the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake destroyed its 250 rooms. Temporary accommodations on the same site were followed by a newly rebuilt interior, more than double the size, in 1907. Today the hotel offers almost 1,200 rooms and suites between the historic Landmark Building and the contemporary Tower Building, which was completed in 1972. The Westin St. Francis seamlessly integrates the vintage and the modern to create a contemporary hotel experience more than 100 years after it first opened its doors.
Regardless of which tower guests stay in, room pricing is similar, but the feel and views of each are distinctive. Befitting the time when it was built, the Landmark Building has wider hallways with interesting architectural details, and some rooms look directly onto Union Square. Rooms are set for a refresh in 2017 and will match the more modern decor of those in the 32-story Tower Building.
A striking feature of the Tower Building is the glass elevators positioned on the exterior, which give guests panoramic city views during the ride.
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There are three main areas for dining in the hotel: Caruso’s, the Oak Room and the Clock Bar (better for adults or families with older teens, as it’s more of a lounge). Caruso’s is the hangout spot in the lobby for morning coffee and light fare, though it offers a full bar for a relaxing drink after sightseeing. The Oak Room is the hotel’s full-service restaurant and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in an elegant setting. During the holidays, they also offer a seasonal tea to complement the famed “Sugar Castle” that appears in the hotel lobby along with the festivities in Union Square.
Rarely is a gym an important feature for families, but when I walked into this one, it was hopping with adults and a few teenagers — a sign of a good workout facility. Set on two levels, it has the requisite treadmills and bikes plus an area for free weights, stretching and ball workouts. And the well-appointed locker rooms have steam rooms for relaxing after all the exertion. This is a don’t-miss for guests who can sneak away for a workout or a steam.
The hotel’s location on Union Square means that families can walk out the front door to loads of attractions. Union Square has iconic flagship stores, including a gorgeous new Apple store and a multi-level Niketown. A block off the main square lie trendy boutiques and a few pop-up stores of well-known online brands. A 10-minute walk leads to more shopping and dining, including a new favorite find: M.Y. China restaurant at Westfield San Francisco Centre mall. The Powell-Mason cable car turntable and, in the opposite direction, the gates of Chinatown await families as well. Everything else is an Uber ride away.
Editor’s Note: The Westin St. Francis hosted Ciao Bambino in order to review the hotel for families. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Kristi Marcelle.
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