We chose the Fairmont Heritage Place for the first five days of our West Coast trip, and what a good choice it turned out to be. We booked a two bedroom city view apartment for two adults and two children (9, 11).
The location was easy to find from SFO - just take the 101 to Van Ness Street, follow it to the end and turn in to North Point Street. Ideal for jet-lagged tourists as it is pretty hard to get lost. Valet parking was quick and easy if expensive, but car parking is very expensive in this area generally so to be expected.
We were checked in quickly by the friendly front-desk team and had access to our apartment straight away despite arriving early. We were given room 217 which overlooks North Point Street; nothing particularly exciting to look at but no issues either, just a fairly typical San Francisco street view.
The real bonus was that our door was right next to the exit to the main terrace, so within a couple of seconds we could be sitting next to the outdoor fire pit with stunning views of the bay. Having Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Maritime Museum right outside your front door made this really special, not to mention the Americas Cup boats practising out on the water. It was also quite nice to be able to people watch with a glass of wine in hand, loads of tourists wandering around Ghirardelli Square.
The apartment was simply vast, starting with a lounge/sitting area and fireplace with space for the four of us. The other half of the open-plan living area consisted of a six person dining table and a full kitchen with cooker, dishwasher fridge, freezer, wine cooler and plenty of glasses, crockery and cooking equipment should you require it.
Along the hallway was a concealed washer and separate drier. The kids had their own twin-bedroom and bathroom (with shower) which was bigger than many four-star hotel rooms I have stayed in. The master bedroom had an oversized king bed and a bathroom with a large bath and separate shower/wet room. One end of this has a large glass window looking in to the bedroom (with a curtain).
Each room had its own large flat-screen TV with a direct TV box attached, in addition to the large TV and high-end audio-visual set-up in the main living area. The whole apartment has loads of storage space; more than enough for the four of us.
The décor is extremely well done; tasteful and modern, making the most of the industrial heritage of the building but still retaining a welcoming 'home away from home' feeling. Soundproofing was very good, no street noise to speak of (even when buses and trucks were passing outside), and noise bleed from above/below. We were only troubled by plumbing noise on one occasion - next door's bath being filled late in the evening (the position of the bath would have been almost directly behind the bed in the master bedroom). Overall though, it was the quietest hotel I have ever stayed in.
All the in-room amenities worked well and with no issues with a couple of minor exceptions. Reception of the free WIFi was patchy - I could only get a connection in the main bedroom. Given the substantial brick and concrete construction of the building, perhaps to be expected. Oddly enough the provided in-room iPad could not detect the WIFI at all even where other devices could.
The free breakfast buffet in the morning was great, with a wide selection of pastries, toast, cereals, fruit, breakfast burritos, juice, tea and coffee. Absolutely no need to head anywhere else to start the day.
The staff were extremely pleasant and helpful. We used the free house car on several occasions and never had to wait more than a few minutes for it. Very handy for visits to the nearer tourist attractions (of which there are many) and they will even come and pick you up when you are done. For trips further afield you can take the cable car from just around the corner or the F-Line historic street cars from a few blocks away, and of course more conventional forms of public transport and taxis.
The Fisherman's Wharf area is a bit of a tourist trap, but there are lots of worthwhile attractions scattered amongst the endless T-shirt and souvenir shops. The Fairmont's location is ideal in this regard as it is a short walk to the busier parts of the wharf area, but slightly removed from it so giving the best of both worlds. The kids also liked being able to get Ghirardelli ice-cream to go from the store just downstairs; there are a couple of quick routes in the the square using your keycard once you work out your bearings.
Overall this the best start to a trip we have ever had, and whilst pricey, the Farimont certainly deserves the glowing praise it regularly receives and I would really like to return for another visit.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The cornerstone of Ghirardelli Square, Ghirardelli’s illustrious chocolate factory, has been reinvented as Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square. Our San Francisco residences allow you to experience one of the city’s most precious jewels in a new and intimate way. Offering one, two, and three bedroom luxury residences in San Francisco, Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square affords you all the comforts of home with the world class service of Fairmont that today’s discerning travelers have come to expect. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square Hotel San Francisco