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At the Bay Bridge, cars and trucks were passing from Oakland into San Francisco at a steady pace. The seagulls, however, had lost their cool. Someone was flying a drone over the bridge, and the feathered aviators had become hysterical.
Suddenly, a bell rung. It was half past noon, and the San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building wanted everyone to know.
I was sandwiched directly in between the action at Pier 14, one of several jetties that make up the city’s Embarcadero waterfront. Elderly fishermen cast their reels, men in suits meditated on their lunch breaks and young tourist couples snapped selfies.
I turned my back to the bridge and looked past the pier entrance and across the street. The summer fog had rolled in, obscuring the surrounding skyscrapers that make up the techy SoMa (or South of Market) neighborhood. But I could still clearly make out the Harbor Court Hotel San Francisco, an eight-story Spanish Colonial Revival building built in 1926.
Even though it’s just off a $10 million refresh led by Jackie McGee of design firm, Perkins+Will, the property has retained its old charm. Crown molding that harks back to former times frames the on-trend new lobby area, where multiple seating configurations and mismatched decor create an attractive environment for working, catching up and plain ol’ relaxing.
Over the weekend, I observed a visiting family sprawled over a couch facing a flat-screen television embedded in a bookshelf. But the bookish vibe wasn’t just for show: By Monday, the area resembled a coworking space — laptops were out, headphones were in and real work was getting done behind glass doors in enclosed rooms to the side of the lobby.
The lobby is bifurcated by elevators and stairs that lead to the front desk area, which also doubles as a grab-and-go cafe, where complimentary tea and coffee are served each morning. Next door, Ozumo, a Japanese restaurant, serves as a popular spot for the post-work crowd thanks to one of the city’s largest sake lists. Bikes are offered gratis on a first-come, first-serve basis, and guests are welcome to work out at the historic YMCA next door for a small fee.
Indeed, the property has mastered the balance of catering to both tourists looking to stay in an iconic destination and those in San Francisco for business. The design emphasis on comfort and convenience is on display in the property’s 131 bedrooms.
Leisure visitors will especially love the iconic views of Pier 14 and the Bay Bridge found from some guestrooms, while all guests will enjoy luxurious touches such as Frette linens and Malin+Goetz toiletries. Further catering to the tech crowd are numerous outlets installed on the bedside tables; a tablet where guests can catch up on recommendations and order room service; a 42-inch high-definition television; a Soundfreaq Bluetooth-enabled sound system; and even numerical artwork.
All of this is packed into a characteristically San Francisco petite-sized room of about 165 to 195 square feet (with the exception of the Penthouse Suite, which measures in at 425 square feet and can be connected to a second room).
I tried my best to sleep in, laze around in bed and watch the seabirds fly from my window to the pier — until, finally, I gave into temptation, crossed the street and joined them.
The DetailsHarbor Court Hotel San Francisco www.harborcourthotel.com