Just as there are car fanatics, aviation junkies, and wine snobs, there are people who are just downright obsessed with hotels. They will not refrain from forking over the extra hundred or two if it means staying at a beloved property or someplace people are buzzing about. They usually have their favorite group, an extensive list on the overrated, and a couple of concierges or maitre-d’s they are convinced truly love them. There are cities, they’re quick to tell you, that have great hotels, and those that don’t.
One city they’re often quick to knock is San Francisco, which has a number of the big stately hotels but rarely (the Proper being an exception) something they’d see as cool.
But the 1 Hotel San Francisco, one of the city’s newest hotels and the latest selection for our Room Key series, has those folks excited. For the unfamiliar, the 1 Hotels comprise a group of eco-focused luxury properties created in 2015. There are properties around the U.S., like the original iconic 1 Hotel South Beach, and in Canada and China.
The group took over the old Hotel Vitale on the Embarcadero just across the street from the water with views of the Bay Bridge. Gone are the previous hotel’s heavy drapes; instead one finds a light and airy hotel that feels more Miami or Costa Rica than San Francisco, with textured concrete, reclaimed wood floors, and leafy plants hanging all over. The biophilic design one finds throughout—from panels of moss growing outside doors in the hallways to preserved plants hanging in Terrene, the hotel’s restaurant—is part of the hotel group’s nature-inspired aesthetic. More of a café during the morning and midday, Terrene turns into a neighborhood happy-hour hotspot by the early evening and a full restaurant at night. Its menu is perhaps the most “San Francisco” part of the hotel, a sort of bougie-global-farm-to-table.
In the lobby one can also find a bar area with items for guests from Imperfect Foods (basically, ugly fruit that normally gets tossed) and in the elevators redwood taken from the original Bay Bridge.
While the post-modern exterior of the hotel has largely been left untouched (with the exception of eco-initiatives like rooftop gardens and beehives), the rooms are very much 1’s sleek minimalist with muted room colors and wood accents framing the beds. There are also more eco-initiatives. Instead of a notepad and pen by your bedside, there’s a chalkboard as well as a bottle you can fill up in the filtered water stations in the hall. The showers have a wood stand with a holder for a timer to monitor your water usage and the toilets are low flow. And many of the rooms look out over the bay, with higher corner rooms featuring the Bay Bridge framed by their large windows.
There are two main amenities: a full-fledged gym with a squat rack and dumbbells, as well as a spa run by Bamford, the famed Cotswolds wellness retreat.