San Francisco/Union Square-Financial District

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California San Francisco San Francisco/Union Square-Financial District

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Introduction

Union Square-Financial District is an area of Downtown San Francisco, made up of two neighborhoods: the bustling shopping and theater district surrounding Union Square, and the central business district where Market Street meets the bay. This is where you will find many of the city's office buildings, luxury hotels, and department stores, where tourists riding in on cable cars and streetcars cross paths with the weekday commuters who come in through the Market Street Subway. The area is bounded roughly by Market Street to the south, the San Francisco Bay to the east, Chinatown and Taylor Street to the west, and Bush Street (between Taylor and Kearny) and Washington Street (between Kearny and the bay) to the north.

Union Square

Surrounded by upscale hotels, Union Square is one of the largest shopping areas in the U.S. and is home to some of the nation's finest department stores, malls and specialty stores. As if that wasn't enough, it also boasts many fine art galleries, some of the best restaurants in the city, and it also serves as San Francisco's main theater district, featuring many Broadway and off-Broadway shows. The city earmarked the area as a park in 1850, and its name was derived from the many lively, pro-Union Civil War demonstrations that were held there. The square itself, a public plaza, which is bordered by Post, Stockton, Geary, and Powell streets, got a major refurbishment in 2002 when most of its grass was paved over with granite stone. Built in 1903, the monument dedicated to the Goddess Victory still remains at the heart of the square. Today, people use the square mostly as a space to relax and soak up a bit of sun, and to wallow in the atmosphere created by the surrounding cable cars, hotels and shoppers.

Financial District

The Financial District is among the top financial centers in the United States and its many skyscrapers add a very impressive skyline to the city. It is home to the headquarters of the 12th District of the United States Federal Reserve, as well as the iconic Transamerica Pyramid building. It also houses the corporate headquarters of many financial giants such as Visa, Wells Fargo Bank, Mckeeson Corporation and Charles Schwab Corporation. Despite the fact that the area was almost completely destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, many of its original skyscrapers have survived. Today the architecture reflects a mix of both contemporary as well as more historic buildings such as the Merchant and Exchange building, the Bank of America building and the Russ building. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities in the area with centers such as the Embarcadero Center and the Ferry Building. It begins at Montgomery, which was once known as the "Wall Street of the West," and ends at the Embarcadero.

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Sights and Activities

Embarcadero Center. Consists of many buildings between Sacramento and Clay Streets running from the Embarcadero to Battery Street housing a shopping center, offices, and the Hyatt Regency hotel, which has a wonderful 17 story atrium used in the film Towering Inferno.
Ferry Building, One Ferry Building (at the end of Market Street on the bay), ☏ +1-415-983-8000. A historic ferry terminal which survived the 1906 earthquake and fire and had 100,000 people pass through it every day before the bridges were built. It was renovated several years ago and now it's a great example of Bay Area "foodie" culture. Inside you'll find little shops selling artisanal bread (Acme), cheese (Cowgirl), chocolate (e.g., Tcho, Recchiuti, Ghiradelli, Scharffen Berger, etc.), slow-drip coffee (Blue Bottle), and so on. There's even a stand selling vegan donuts! There are also a few excellent little restaurants and specialty markets as well as a large farmers market out front (Tuesdays and Saturdays year-round and on Thursday evenings in the summer). Together with its surroundings, the Ferry Building is beautiful to see, especially at night (although the shops will be closed at night). It's a popular place to visit for downtown office workers and tourists alike.
San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart St (at Steuart and Don Chee Way, near the foot of Market), ☏ +1-415-974-1948. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. A small but charming museum with exhibits on the history of rail transportation in San Francisco, with a particular emphasis on the streetcar systems. It's a good companion piece to a streetcar ride, with a stop on the F-line just outside the front door. Free.
Transamerica Pyramid, Montgomery and Washington. San Francisco's tallest and most famous skyscraper, controversial when it opened, but now accepted. There used to be an unusual observation deck on the ground floor with 4 big TV monitors, showing live views of the city transmitted from cameras at the top of the building. They now have a happy worker at the bottom that tells you anything and everything you want to know about San Francisco and has some great stories. Then he tells you that they no longer have the 4 big TVs and are building a restaurant where you can view the city from inside.
Union Square (between Geary, Post, Stockton, and Powell Sts). The most important site is the square itself, which was revamped in 2002 to provide more space for outdoor events and less space for napping homeless people (an earlier version of the square appeared in the film The Conversation). The square now includes a theater ticket outlet, gift shop, and Emporio Rulli Cafe, along with an underground parking garage. For blogging people-watchers, there is free wi-fi provided by the city. Look under the leaves of the greenery in the planters, and you'll find a few power outlets for your laptop.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Foot

From Fisherman's Wharf, take a 25-minute walk down the Emabarcadero, which will take you all the way down to the Ferry Building, at the edge of the Financial District. From west of the area, it is also easily accessible by getting first to Market Street and then walking eastbound.

By Car

On-street parking is all but non-existent. Parking garages, while plentiful, can be expensive. Major parking garages for the Union Square area can be found at the NE corner of Sutter and Stockton, between Ellis and O'Farrell between Stockton and Powell, on Sutter between Kearny and Grant, and under Union Square.

By Public Transport

Extensive public transit is offered through the neighborhood, provided either by the regional BART system or the city-wide MUNI system, which encompasses the MUNI Metro, buses, cable cars, and the F-Line streetcar.

BART and all of the MUNI Metro lines ( J K L M N T ) run under Market Street with three stations serving this part of downtown: the Embarcadero, Montgomery Street and Powell Street. The Powell Street stop is just a few blocks down Powell from Union Square. The Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason cable car lines run from Powell and Market past Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf. From the Embarcadero station you can catch the California cable car line.

The F Streetcar Line runs along Market Street and up the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf. There are several streetcar stops along Market Street. Numerous MUNI bus lines run through the area as well, such as the 38-Geary (which runs past Union Square) and the 1-California (which runs through the Financial District past the Embarcadero Center). The 10-Townsend, 30-Stockton and 45-Union/Stockton lines run north-south through the district, connecting to Chinatown, North Beach, and Fisherman's Wharf to the north.

By Boat

Several ferry companies operate service from around the bay to the Ferry Building on the waterfront.

Golden Gate Ferry, ☏ 511 (inside the Bay Area), +1-415-455-2000. Service to and from Larkspur and Sausalito. $10-10.75 one-way adults, $5-5.25 one-way seniors/youth; discount to adults using Clipper Card.
Blue & Gold Fleet, ☏ +1-415-705-5555. Offering services between the Ferry Building and Oakland/Alameda and Tiburon. One-way fares range from $11.50 adults, $6.75 seniors/youth to $6.25 adults, $3.10 seniors/youth, depending on destination.
San Francisco Bay Ferry, ☏ +1-415-705-8291. Service to and from Alameda, Oakland, and Vallejo. One-way fares range from $13 adults, $6.50 seniors/youth to $6.25 adults, $3.10 seniors/youth, depending on destination; discount to adults using Clipper Card.

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Getting Around

To help you navigate around there is a Visitor Information Center run by the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, located at 900 Market St on the lower level of Hallidie Plaza, next door to the cable car turntable at Powell and Market streets. The V.I.C. is open M-F 9AM-5PM; Sa, Su, and holidays 9AM-3PM, PST. Telephone inquiries may be made M-F from 8:30AM to 5PM PST, by calling +1-415-391-2000 or +1-415-392-0328.

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Eat

Though Union Square appears to be awash in cafes, it's one of the more difficult neighborhoods for good eating. Dining selections are crowded and geared toward the tourist market, though there are a few iconic restaurants that have must-see status just from their fame and age. It's also a center of high-end hotel dining. However, a short side trip west on O'Farrell or Geary to the Tenderloin for bargain Indian or Vietnamese food, a quick walk up Grant to Chinatown or (further) to North Beach may be worthwhile alternatives to fast food, long waits, or $200 a plate meals. In the Financial District there are various restaurants catering to those who work in the surrounding buildings although many close at the end of the business day and offer few dinner choices.

Bangkok Noodles, 110 Powell St (near Ellis), ☏ +1-415-397-2199. 11AM-1AM daily. Cash only "hole in the wall" restaurant serving delicious and nicely presented Thai dishes ranging from noodles, stir fried, to BBQ. Attracts a large local following from young Asian Americans. Lunch hour gets crowded in this small popular eatery; alternative is to take out and eat in Union Square. It's great for a good and cheap early or late-night dinner. Most dishes under $10.
Boxed Foods Co, 245 Kearny St (between Hardie Pl & Sutter St), ☏ +1-415-981-9376. M-F 8AM-3PM. Healthy and delicious option for the working crowd. The line goes out the door around lunchtime so phone in or order early in order to beat the lunch time rush. The ingredients are fresh and wholesome. The Boxed Chicken Salad comes highly recommended.
Daily Grill, 347 Geary Street (Between Mason and Powell Streets; there's an outdoor entrance and it is the hotel restaurant for the Handlery Hotel), ☏ +1 415 616-5002, fax: +1 415 616-5005. Su-Th 7AM-10PM, F Sa 7AM-11PM. Upscale American pub food restaurant chain with well-stocked bar and American diner breakfast selections.
Daffodil Restaurant, 665 Bush St (in the Orchard Hotel (see below) between Stockton and Powell), ☏ +1-415-343-0130. Serving seasonal, organic cuisine with wines from around the world.
First Crush, 101 Cyril Magnin St (at Ellis St), ☏ +1-415-982-7874, fax: +1-415-982-7800, ✉ shahram@firstcrush.com. Su-W 5PM-10:45PM, Th-Sa 5PM-11:30PM. If you like romantic restaurants and have also fallen in love with California, this is the place for you. Popular with couples, this restaurant serves up modern Californian and American cuisine and they've got a HUGE selection of Cal wines to wash it down with. $20-30.
John's Grill, 63 Ellis St (between Powell and Stockton), ☏ +1-415-986-3274. M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-10PM. Seafood and steak joint.
Little Delhi, 83 Eddy St (at Mason), ☏ +1-415-398-3173. 11AM-11PM daily. This is a very good Indian restaurant at very reasonable prices. Decor and ambiance is average, but high on taste and cleanliness.
Macy's Cellar Food Court, 170 O'Farrell St (between Stockton and Powell, across the street from Union Square), ☏ +1-415-397-3333. Around the corner from the swanky appliances on Macy's basement level is basically a food court, but better than the usual with Wolfgang Puck, Boudin, a sushi bar, Ben & Jerry's, Tom's Cookies and more. Beware though, it's usually a madhouse.
One Market Restaurant, 1 Market St (between Steuart and Spear, near the Embarcadero), ☏ +1-415-777-5577. Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2PM; Dinner: M-Sa 5:30PM-9PM. Organic food dishes.
Pinecrest Diner, 401 Geary Street (Between Taylor and Mason), ☏ +1 415 885-6407, fax: +1 415 775-7879. Open 24 Hours. Traditional diner fare in a traditional diner setting. If you're looking for a good diner breakfast in the Union Square area, this is the place.
Puccini & Pinetti, 129 Ellis St (between Powell and Cyril Magnin), ☏ +1-415-392-5500. M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 11:30AM-10PM. Popular Italian restaurant.
Schroeder's, 240 Front St, ☏ +1-415-421-4778. A traditional German beer hall with schnitzel, sausages and other delights (and, of course, a good selection of German beers).
Tadich Grill, 240 California St (between Battery and Front Streets), ☏ +1-415-391-1849. M-F 11AM-9:30PM, Sa 11:30AM-9:30PM. The longest operating restaurant in California, dating back to the Gold Rush. You'll find delicious seafood and a classic atmosphere where groups can sit in their own wood-paneled quarters. Price range is high with most entrees over $20. $20-30.
Wexler's, 568 Sacramento St, ☏ +1-415-983-0102. Gourmet BBQ: try the New Orleans-style Flounder Po' Boy, BBQ Brisket Banh Mi, and the Bowl O' Red beanless chili made from smoked short ribs, shallots, and creme fraiche.

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Drink

Benjamin Cooper, 398 Geary Street (Between Taylor and Mason Streets, Inside the Hotel G), ☏ +1 415 654-5061. M-F 5PM-2AM, Sa 6PM-2PM. Small, nondescript bar inside the Hotel G. Walk past the check-in desk, go up the flight of stairs and make a left. Open the door straight in front of you and you're there. Cozy atmosphere, good selection of drinks, and a good deal on raw oysters, which is the only food they have available.
Cantina, 580 Sutter St (between Mason St & Powell St), ☏ +1-415-398-0195. M-Sa 5PM-2AM. Part of the new wave of "mixologists" that have been sweeping over San Francisco. Classic cocktails are well-made, although more exotic choices can leave something to be desired, and it doesn't present the most affordable of options. Unfortunately, most of the bartenders think far too highly of themselves and expect tips accordingly. Weekend nights are quite busy as well as the after work crowd on weekdays.
E&O Trading Company, 314 Sutter St (at Grant), ☏ +1-415-693-0303. M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 5PM-9:30PM. Decked out in an upscale but not trying decor, EO Trading has the kind of cocktail list that impresses but doesn't overwhelm. The menu of small plates and appetizers of Asian fusion cuisine, satay platters and a selection of naan bread is the perfect partner for their lychee martinis and Anchor Steam beers. Happy hour is from 3 to 6PM.
Harrington's Bar & Grill, 245 Front St (at Sacramento St), ☏ +1-415-392-7595. An Irish pub open since 1935.
Irish Bank, 10 Mark Ln (alley off Bush St or Grant Ave), ☏ +1-415-788-7152. An old-style Irish pub, walls adorned with antiques, with a great selection of whiskey, imports, and microbrewed beer, and good pub food. The Bank has plenty of outdoor sitting, ideal for a warm day.
Lefty O'Doul's, 333 Geary St, ☏ +1-415-982-8900. Less than a block from Union Square, just up Geary, this is considered to be a "dive bar" in the area, although for true dives, one needs to continue further up Geary and in to the Tenderloin. Well known for their Bloody Mary and history, it's a decent place to stop in for a drink, although the crowd will most definitely not be locals.
Royal Exchange, 301 Sacramento St (at Front St), ☏ +1-415-956-1710. A good selection of microbrews and imports on tap in a typical sports bar.
Ruby Skye, 420 Mason St (between Geary St and Post St), ☏ +1-415-693-0777, fax: +1-415-693-0373. Th-Sa 7PM-4AM. Ruby Skye is one of the premiere clubs in the area and has become a "place to be seen." Some of the top DJs in the world have played here including Paul van Dyke, Pete Tong, and Sasha. It's 15,000 square feet of Hip-Hop, House, and Techno over multiple floors; one of the floors at the top has a private smoking lounge and cigar bar. Cover charge $0-25.
Starlight Room, 450 Powell St (in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel), ☏ +1-415-395-8595. Tu-Sa 6PM-2AM, Su 11AM-3:30PM. Not for a visitor that's light in the wallet, but the view and setting from this lounge are undeniably hard to beat. Opulent is probably the best description. Dress well if going as the crowd that attends is there to be seen.
Tunnel Top, 601 Bush St (between Burritt St & Stockton St), ☏ +1-415-722-6620. This two-floor, cash-only bar is a neighborhood staple, where you'll find an eclectic mix of locals downing the very excellent mojitos, shots of Fernet-Branca (the unofficial drink of San Francisco), or egging on the bartenders to make up a new drink.

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Sleep

Without a doubt, this is the primary hotel district for San Francisco. While some of the main hotels are in the neighboring Tenderloin district (although they'll vehemently deny it) their proximity to Union Square and public transportation is hard to beat. The range varies greatly from large, international chains to smaller boutiques. With any of these hotels, you are always advised to book far in advance for better prices and selection due to their overall desirability for anyone visiting the city.

Hostelling International-Downtown, 312 Mason St (at O'Farrell), ☏ +1-415-788-5604. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Clean, cheap, safe and fun. Dorms $27-30, privates $69-109. edit
Pacific Tradewinds Backpackers, 680 Sacramento St (between Kearny and Spring), ☏ +1-415-433-7970, ✉ info@pactradewinds.com. Check-in: 8AM-11:30PM, check-out: 10:30AM. The highest rated and smallest hostel in San Francisco. On the edge of Chinatown and the Financial District. Friendly, clean, modern and safe. Free internet. $26-29.50/night.
San Francisco International Hostel, 140 Mason St, ☏ +1-415-982-5010, toll-free: +1-888-919-0140. Check-in: 11AM dorms, 2PM privates, check-out: 10AM. Can't beat the convenience right in the main hotel district, a block from Powell Station and Union Square. Dorms $29+, privates $45+.
The Donatello, 501 Post St (at Mason), ☏ +1-415-441-7100. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. 94 deluxe rooms, the most spacious accommodations in San Francisco. Elegantly decorated with original Italian art, Travertine marble, Venetian glass and European antiques.
Handlery Union Square Hotel, 351 Geary St (between Powell and Mason), ☏ +1-415-781-7800, fax: +1-415-781-0269. A family hotel with a European flair, and the feel of upscale boutique accommodations providing warm, personal attention. The cable car is located at the corner and attractions are within walking distance.
Hotel Abri, 127 Ellis St, ☏ +1-415-392-8800, fax: +1-415-398-2650. No pool or free breakfast. Rooms are small but has everything you need for a reasonable price. The cable car, MUNI and BART stations are within walking distance.
Hotel des Arts, 447 Bush St (between Grant Ave and Kearny St), ☏ +1-415-956-4322, fax: +1-415-956-0399, ✉ reservations@sfhoteldesarts.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. The hotel displays the work of contemporary local artists. $69-149.
Chancellor Hotel, 433 Powell St (between Sutter and Post just north of Union Square), ☏ +1-415-362-2004, toll-free: +1-800-428-4748, fax: +1-415-362-1403, ✉ info@chancellorhotel.com. A classic hotel overlooking Powell Street. Offers a menu of pillow options for your sleeping comfort. $90–200.
The Clift Hotel, 495 Geary St (at Taylor St), ☏ +1-415-775-4700, fax: +1-415-441-4621, ✉ cliftreservations@morganshotelgroup.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Hotel features Jeffrey Chodorow's Asia de Cuba restaurant, the Redwood Room, the Living Room, private apartments, penthouse suites and meeting facilities. $275-325.
Galleria Park Hotel, 191 Sutter St (at Kearny), ☏ +1-415-781-3060, fax: +1-415-433-4409, ✉ twillis@jdvhotels.com. A boutique hotel with a half-acre private urban park. Good linens, flat-screen TVs and complimentary wine hour.
Hilton San Francisco Financial District, 750 Kearny St (between Washington St and Clay St), ☏ +1-415-483-1498, fax: +1-415-765-7891. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Situated at the nexus of Chinatown, North Beach and the Financial District, this 27 story hotel has some stunning views over the city and of San Francisco Bay. $209-409.
Hilton San Francisco Union Square, 333 O'Farrell St (between Taylor St and Mason St), ☏ +1-415-771-1400, fax: +1-415-771-6807, ✉ Guest_Assistance@hilton.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. At 46 stories tall, this hotel is the tallest hotel in the downtown area and has excellent views over the city. It also has a heated outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, as well as high-speed internet in all rooms. $149-369.
Hotel Diva, 440 Geary St (between Taylor St and Mason St), ☏ +1-415-885-0200, ✉ Reservations@PersonalityHotels.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Sleek, modern boutique hotel just off Union Square. This place is pretty hip! It's also a non-smoking hotel. $149-226.
Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St (between O'Farrell and Ellis), ☏ +1-415-394-1111, fax: +1-415-394-1106, ✉ info@hotelnikkosf.com. Swanky large hotel with a boutique feel and very large bathrooms. Rooms are equipped with high-speed Internet, stereos and large flat panel televisions, and you can ask for the few rooms with Japanese style amenities. There is also an indoor fifteen-meter heated pool, whirlpool and a 24h gym. Hotel dining includes restaurant ANZU, which serves fresh sushi and excellent steaks. Also located inside the hotel's lobby is the Rrazz Room Theater, with nightly cabaret and R&B and the Imperial Club rooms on the top floors provide some great views of the city. $101–200/night.
Hotel Emblem San Francisco (formerly Hotel Rex), 562 Sutter St (between Powell and Mason), ☏ +1-415-433-4434, toll-free: +1-800-433-4434, fax: +1-415-433-3595, ✉ reservations.emblem@viceroyhotelgroup.com. Check-in: 3:00 PM, check-out: Noon. The Hotel Rex, now the Hotel Emblem, was inspired by the San Francisco art and literary salons of the 1920s and 30s. The clubby lobby surrounds guests with distinctive period furnishings, walls of antiquarian books, and a collection of exotic objects, original portraits and murals.
Hotel Vitale, 8 Mission St (at the Embarcadero), ☏ +1-415-278-3700, fax: +1-415-278-3750, ✉ bookvitale@jdvhotels.com. Great boutique hotel, right on the waterfront, across from the historic Ferry Building. Rooms with city or bay views, rooftop day-spa, and a restaurant and bar with outside terrace seating. $250–500.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco, 5 Embarcadero Center (at the Embarcadero Center, next to the California and Market cable car turnaround), ☏ +1-415-788-1234, fax: +1-415-398-2567. A very prominent hotel near the waterfront, with many rooms having lovely views of the Bay. Typically of Hyatts, there are plenty of amenities and very nice rooms.
JW Marriott (former Pan Pacific), 500 Post St (at Mason, one block west of Union Square), ☏ +1-415-771-8600, fax: +1-415-398-0267. A AAA four diamond hotel with lots of amenities and nice rooms.
Le Méridien (formerly the Park Hyatt), 333 Battery St (between Commercial and Clay, next to the Embarcadero Center), ☏ +1-415-296-2900, fax: +1-415-296-2901, ✉ hotel@lemeridiensf.com. A luxury hotel that mostly caters to business travelers. Large rooms and very nice furnishings and art work. If you stay at this hotel, make a point not to eat breakfast here, as it is expensive and there are other good options nearby.
Mandarin Oriental, 222 Sansome St (at Pine), ☏ +1-415-276-9600, fax: +1-415-433-0289, ✉ mosfo-reservations@mohg.com. A 150 room hotel located on the top eleven floors of the First Interstate Center, the third tallest building in the city of San Francisco. The view from the rooms are exceptional, with floor to ceiling windows and great views.
Marines' Memorial Club & Hotel, 609 Sutter St, ☏ +1-415-673-6672, fax: +1-415-441-3649. A historic hotel with some elegantly appointed rooms and suites. Fine dining at the Leatherneck Steakhouse & Lounge and performances at the historical Marines' Memorial Theatre on the premises. edit
Marriott Union Square, 480 Sutter St (at Powell), ☏ +1-415-398-8900, fax: +1-415-989-8823. A trendy San Francisco boutique hotel. Formerly the Hotel 480, this hotel has been completely renovated to become a Marriott. edit
Omni San Francisco Hotel, 500 California St (at Montgomery), ☏ +1-415-677-9494, fax: +1-415-273-3038. A luxury hotel with marble floors and wood paneling in the lobby and very nice rooms.
The Orchard Hotel, 665 Bush St (at Powell Street), ☏ +1-415-362-8878, fax: +1-415-362-8088. A stylish 'green' boutique hotel with beautiful rooms and suites, as well as meeting space, a fitness center, and on-site dining - Daffodil Restaurant.
Parc 55 San Francisco, 55 Cyril Magnin St (between Ellis and Eddy), toll-free: +1-800-595-0507. A highrise hotel with large rooms, lots of amenities, and great views of Downtown.
Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 450 Powell St, ☏ +1-415-392-7755, fax: +1-415-391-8719. A historic (built in 1928) and rather lavish hotel a block up the street from Union Square.
Hotel Triton, 342 Grant Ave (at Bush St), ☏ +1-415-394-0500, fax: +1-415-394-0555. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Located just outside Chinatown, directly across from the south gate. Trendy, modern, and a little pricey. But the rooms are nicely appointed, and they offer a free tasting of local wines every afternoon. $229-300.
Villa Florence, 225 Powell St, ☏ +1-415-397-7700. Has the feel of an Italian-inspired hotel. Amenities include an onsite bar, Kuleto's Italian Restaurant, a fitness center and a sundry area.
Westin-St Francis Hotel, 335 Powell St (west side of Union Square, between Post and Geary), ☏ +1-415-397-7000. Now a member of the Westin chain, this is an iconic San Francisco hotel. The lavish lobby and cafe area are used as a meeting place by quite a lot of people who aren't guests there, despite the pricey lattes and ritzy atmosphere. In a peculiar bit of design, the lobby has a side entrance to the Harry & David store, should you need to pop over for a few chocolate-covered cranberries. A ride on the exterior glass elevators offers a splendid view of the skyline, and can be done even if you're not staying. Although the St. Francis has a reputation for being pricy, it runs off-season specials.
Axiom Hotel, 28 Cyril Magnin Street, ☏ +1 415-392-9466, ✉ info@axiomhotel.com. Check-in: 3 PM, check-out: 12 PM. Along with a restaurant, this smoke-free hotel has a 24-hour fitness center and a bar/lounge. WiFi in public areas is free. Other amenities include a coffee shop/café, valet parking, and coffee/tea in a common area. $228.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

San Francisco/Union Square-Financial District Travel Helpers

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This is version 4. Last edited at 10:16 on Sep 18, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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