BY MARK KEAST

True luxury isn’t anything you can touch or see. It’s more about how something makes you feel. Within seconds of walking into the Casablanca Suite at the iconic Fairmont San Francisco, the story of our stay was written.

“The Casablanca Suite is one of our Main Building Corner Suites,” says Paul Tormey, Vice President and General Manager of the Fairmont San Francisco. “Along with our Main Building Balcony Suites (take a virtual tour), they embody the experience of the hotel through their classic, spacious design paired with state of the art amenities and views.”

PHOTOGRAPHER: RALPH ESPOSITO

Start with those panoramic city views, looking across to North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz Island in the distance, from both the living room and bedroom. The living room area of the suite, decked out in contemporary furniture, plush couches and chairs, and an adjacent dining room area for a proper sit-down meal after a day walking the city, breathed as openly as the main room of any luxury designed downtown condo.

San Francisco is a walking enthusiast’s dream (be prepared for a workout – our walk from the hotel at California and Mason streets, atop Nob Hill, down Powell St. over several blocks to Union Square, was a real pounding on the thighs during a steep decline, then a calf- and buttocks-burning incline back to the hotel).

Related: Relaxing at Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

During our stay there was nothing quite like the feeling of returning to a hotel of this calibre after a long day exploring the city. The Main Building Corner Suites at the Fairmont San Francisco feature two full bathrooms, and are 875 square feet in size, with one King bed and one Queen sofa bed. The dining area fits four people comfortably. Each suite has the requisite luxury touch points – luxury linen ensembles, flat-screen TVs, pillow top beds, Nespresso coffee machines. Each are unique in decor as well, described as a “jewel box” – with sapphire blues and crisp accents of contemporary platinum and pewter.

Ah yes, the King bed – this was a real statement-maker, since there is nothing like coming back from walking miles on hard concrete to a comfortable bed. The Main Building Corner Suites come with Stearns & Foster mattresses. So you know you are in good hands. Lie back, click on the TV, have a glass of chardonnay.

TOWER SUITE ROOM

CAMBRIDGE SUITE BEDROOM

The Fairmont San Francisco has a history to it that is unmatched, with 606 luxurious guest rooms and suites, in the Main Building as well as the Tower Building. There are three distinct restaurants, including Laurel Court Restaurant & Bar, crowned by three ornate domes, and Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, a tropical destination famous for its dynamic thunder and rainstorms, superb Pacific Rim cuisine and exotic drinks. The hotel also has a health club. The Fairmont San Francisco is the only point in the city where each of the city’s cable car lines meet, so you can’t beat the location.

Some other highlights from the interview with Paul:

What is the strategy in choosing the retail shop partners on the main floor – Vendetta cigar shop, Robin Woolard Jeweler, Charisma Crafts, etc.?

Retail partners are carefully selected and each has something unique to offer to our discerning guests.. We want to make sure that our guests find in these shopping experience something they would not be able to experience elsewhere.

What sets the Fairmont apart from other luxury hotel properties in the city? 

Fairmont San Francisco was the first luxury hotel to open its doors following the 1906 Earthquake. Since then, the hotel has hosted every U.S. presidential visits to San Francisco, making it a prime location for world leaders during Bay Area stops. In fact, in 1945, the United Nations Charter was drafted at the hotel. Fairmont San Francisco has also had its close up on the silver screen many times, in numerous movies and TV shows ranging from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) to The Rock (1996) and from Aaron Spelling’s Hotel (1983-88) to HBO’s Ballers (2017).

The property holds so many stories, going back decades. We were told one yesterday at Wine Down in the Cirque Room, where people at the bar back in the day used to toss their cigar butts in the water stream under the bar. The Fairmont San Francisco has such a rich history.

In 1933 Cirque Room was the first bar to open in San Francisco following the repeal of Prohibition.  Today, Fairmont San Francisco continues to innovate and has recently unveiled Cirque + Square events, exclusive events featuring the iconic Cirque location coupled with Square, the city’s largest rooftop garden.

The stay at the Fairmont San Francisco was part of a drive down the U.S. west coast in the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive sports car.

ROOFTOP GARDEN

STEEP INCLINES ON THE CITY’S DOWNTOWN STREETS

HISTORIC CIRQUE ROOM

NAPOLEON SUITE MASTER BATHROOM

TONGA ROOM & HURRICANE BAR

2019 BMW M850i