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“San Francisco” and “under-the-radar” may seem like oxymorons, but in a metropolis of more than 880,000 people, there are bound to be some stones left (relatively) unturned. One of these hidden gems is the upscale neighborhood of Nob Hill, located in northeast San Francisco.
While the area is within walking and driving distance of many of the city’s popular tourist districts — such as the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf and the bustling Chinatown district — Nob Hill remains a quieter respite. Rising nearly 400 feet above sea level, the affluent neighborhood offers one of the best views of San Francisco Bay and is known for its luxury hotels, top-rated eateries (included multiple Michelin-starred restaurants), historic mansions and boutiques.
For clients desiring a Bay Area getaway that pairs the seemingly unattainable — urban access and serenity — a trip to Nob Hill is a must. Here are some of our favorite picks for where to send different types of upscale clients.
For Pop-Culture JunkiesThough technically Nob Hill adjacent, as it’s held at Club Fugazi in North Beach, Beach Blanket Babylon is a can’t-miss theater performance that has been running for more than 40 years. The internationally acclaimed show — which has celebrated nearly 17,000 performances and has been seen by some 6.5 million people — blends the format of a musical with pop culture references, political commentary and elaborate, technicolored costumes.
While clients who are more buttoned-up or conservative probably won’t appreciate the show’s political satire (this is liberal San Francisco, after all), Beach Blanket Babylon is a riot for visitors who could use some comic relief from the United States’ current state of affairs.
For Architecture BuffsThe Episcopal, gothic-style Grace Cathedral boasts many outstanding features for architecture lovers such as gorgeous stained-glass windows (depicting both historical and modern figures); mosaics by Polish painter Jan Henryk de Rosen; an intricate prayer labyrinth; a 44-bell carillon; and a history dating back to the mid-1850s, to name just a few. The church also features temporary art installations and hosts religious and nonreligious events alike, including weekly yoga, organ recitals, forums with thought leaders, dance performances, sound mediation and more.
Across the street from Grace Cathedral is another architectural delight: SF Masonic Auditorium, which serves mainly as an events venue — hosting performers such as comedian Aziz Ansari, singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves and rapper Meek Mill — as well as the meeting venue for the Masons of California.
For FoodiesFor truly mouthwatering wood-fired pizza, head to Del Popolo. Named one of the city’s best restaurants of 2018 by San Francisco Chronicle and a 2019 Bib Gourmand, this rustic-chic eatery serves Neapolitan-inspired pies and is always buzzing (reservations are highly recommended).
Start with mozzarella di bufala; caramelized sunchoke soup; and wood-fired barbecued carrots. (Honestly, just order all the small plates; you really can’t go wrong.) Then comes the tough choice: Which pizza(s) to choose? My dining partners and I indulged in a traditional margherita, along with the bianca, which features mozzarella, ricotta, basil and garlic. I have it on good authority that the potato pizza — topped with prosciutto, fontina, rosemary and potatoes — is also outstanding. And don’t forget to peruse the wine list for the perfect pairing.
For Wellness SeekersWhy not top off a tranquil Nob Hill stay with some Zen? Book clients a treatment at the three-story Nob Hill Spa, located within The Huntington Hotel, a luxury property that dates to 1924 and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. The spa offers 10 treatment rooms, a relaxation room, saunas, steam rooms, an indoor infinity pool, a whirlpool and an outdoor deck with views of the city, along with healthful breakfast and lunch menus, as well as wine and dessert menus.
My 50-minute Classic European Facial — which includes a deep cleansing enzyme treatment, steaming with extractions, specialty ampoules, a massage and a hydrating mask — was truly blissful. And it was enlightening: In magicianlike fashion, before asking me any questions about my skincare routine, my aesthetician guessed my sleep habits (on my left side with the covers tucked to my chin) and water intake (too much coffee in the morning), then recommended ways to keep my skin happy and hydrated.
The DetailsSan Francisco Travel Associationwww.sftravel.com