SOMA Spells Fun

San Francisco’s Argent Hotel wins over families with great location and service

By: Kenneth Shapiro

SAN FRANCISCO Again. Again. Again. Apparently that was the word of the day. “Again.”

We were at the Sony Metreon Entertainment Center in the heart of San Francisco’s South of Market Street (SOMA) district, and our toddler couldn’t get enough of an indoor playground that brings to life Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are.” He especially loved the funhouse of Wild Things, not to mention the giant tree slide and the mirror maze.

Finally, my wife and I convinced him it was time to move on. After all, there was the five-acre Yerba Buena Gardens playground across the street.

Those who haven’t been to San Francisco in awhile might be surprised to think of SOMA as a fun-for-all-ages family vacation spot. But after staying at The Argent Hotel, just off Market Street, I can’t imagine a better location.

Within easy walking distance of the Argent is the Metreon Center (housing the Wild Things playground, a video arcade, multiplex movie theater and shops and restaurants); the unique Yerba Buena Gardens playground built on the roof of the Moscone Convention Center (with a carousel, bowling alley and ice-skating rink); and the Zeum (a hands-on art and technology center for kids). Also nearby is the Museum of Modern Art and Union Square.

Walk just a bit farther or take advantage of the hotel’s proximity to public transportation and your clients can take in a baseball game at SBC Park or go for a stroll in Chinatown, North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf.

The weekend we were there, we took the MUNI train from practically the front door of the Argent all the way across town to the playground in Golden Gate Park. Not only did the train save us time fighting traffic and money for parking, but our son loved peering out the train windows.

And besides its ideal location, the Argent has much to offer inside the hotel as well.

Managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, one of the largest independent hospitality companies in the country, the Argent’s 667 rooms and suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows for a great bird’s-eye-view of the city. (Ask for rooms above the 15th floor for the best view.)

The Argent describes their decor as “metropolitan elegance,” which translates to a crisp, clean modern feel, but with plenty of warmth. Golds and blacks permeate, along with sophisticated stripes and deep brown woods.

In-room amenities include Gilchrist & Soames Spa Line bath products and feather comforters. There are meeting and banquet facilities available in the hotel, as well as the swanky Jester’s Restaurant and Lounge, with live jazz on Friday nights. The hotel also has a spa and a small workout room that was jam-packed with equipment.

Conscious of its reputation as a business hotel, the Argent is reaching out to weekenders, including families. On our stay, we found everyone extremely accommodating to our needs.

In order to help agents experience the Argent for themselves, the hotel is offering a special rate of $99 through the end of 2004.

One word of caution: If you do go with kids, have an exit strategy ready before you hit the playground.


The Argent Hotel
50 Third St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
415-974-6400, 877-222-6699,
fax: 415-543-8268

Hits: Location. What’s not within walking distance of the hotel is easily reached by MUNI or BART. Great views. Very knowledgeable and friendly concierge staff. There’s a small grocery store steps away from the hotel entrance, which made getting kid-friendly necessities a breeze.

Misses: No pool or Jacuzzi. Not enough drawer space. On Saturday morning, expect a bit of a wait at the concierge desk. Parking for overnight hotel guests is a whopping $39 a day.

Be Aware: There’s a major construction site on one side of the hotel, which might be something to ask about for guests visiting during the week. The mini-bar has special weight sensors, so it can’t be used to store food and drinks without guests being charged. However, a second small refrigerator was brought up quickly for use free of charge.

Plugging In: Could have used more electrical outlets in the room. High-Speed Internet access is available for $10 per day.

Rates: Rack rates are $350-$575 and $520-$2,000 for suites. But several affordable weekend packages are available.

Commission: 10 percent.