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My father is a longtime fan of American mystery writer Dashiell Hammett, the author behind works such as “The Maltese Falcon” and “The Thin Man,” and who was the primary inspiration for the naming of my younger brother, Dashiell (whom we fondly call “Dash”).
But Hammett’s legacy has, of course, reached far beyond my immediate family. A former resident of San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood, Hammett and his work have also impacted the redesign of The Marker San Francisco, a historic hotel within the city’s Union Square and a member of Joie de Vivre Hotels’ unique collection of boutique properties.
Case in point: When walking into The Marker’s refreshed lobby, I was confronted with a 12-foot-high theatrical bird cage which, as Hammett fans may quickly realize, is an ode to “The Maltese Falcon.” A copy of this novel is also in the lobby: Walk past the grand staircase — recently redone in a deep shade of blue — toward the floor-to-ceiling stacks surrounding the historic fireplace, and you just might find it.
The hotel, originally opened as Hotel Bellevue in 1910, now provides a fresh take on its traditional beaux arts-era roots. Some historic hotel infrastructure, such as the staircase and the lobby fireplace, are still in use. But new custom furniture adds bright pops of color — I especially liked the lavender-hued chandeliers — and the redone black-and-white floor tiles pay a nice tribute to the original, 109-year-old structure.
Additional renovated areas include the property’s meeting and event spaces as well as the lobby-adjacent “Living Room,” which continues the hotel’s overarching literary theme. It features metallic wall coverings of printed books, designed by wall covering design company Astek, and clients can stop by each morning for tea and coffee (with a Hammett novel in tow, perhaps?). Or, they can opt to attend the live local music session on Thursdays and Fridays or the daily wine reception, both held in the Living Room.
The bold, expressive design of the public spaces flows nicely into the hotel’s guestrooms. Although not part of the recent renovation, bedrooms are cohesive with the redesign. Thick navy-, gold- and fuchsia-colored stripes adorned the wall behind the king-size bed in my Executive King Room, and an adjoining living room featured a queen-size sleeper sofa. The room also had complimentary Wi-Fi access, a work desk, a flat-screen television and Jonathan Adler bath amenities.
Although The Marker is a short walk from the Union Square plaza, where a variety of dining options await, my partner and I opted to stay in for dinner and try out the hotel’s on-site Italian restaurant, Tratto. Dishes were creatively plated and suitable for a wide range of palates. We ordered the flat iron steak and spicy seafood risotto for our entrees, but our absolute favorite was the fork-tender pork belly and onion-jam appetizer (of which we, somewhat sheepishly, requested another order after finishing our first).
But perhaps the most delectable part of our meal came in the form of dessert. The caramel and chocolate lava cake, paired with a fall-inspired seasonal cocktail, was the perfect way to end an already indulgent meal.
I later learned that the restaurant’s name, “Tratto,” can have two meanings in Italian. The word translates to “a mark” or “the stroke of a pen.” Now that I know this, I would like to think that if Dashiell Hammett were alive and well in San Francisco, I’d probably find him here, pen in hand.
And there’s no doubt that The Marker would have left a mark on him, too.
The DetailsThe Marker San Franciscowww.jdvhotels.com