07 April 2007

Serrano Hotel, San Francisco

When I started Krik’s Picks, I said it would be mostly about food – restaurants, recipes, general food info. Lately, all I’ve written about is restaurants, and I’ve got a bunch of ideas about other posts that I’d like to write. This post is in conjunction with reviews of several restaurants that my wife and I went to in San Francisco. During our trip in early March, we stayed at the Serrano Hotel. We had such a fantastic experience, that I felt compelled to include it in my blog.

The Serrano is part of a small chain of ‘boutique hotels’ called the Kimpton Hotels. I’ve stayed at a couple of them in Washington, DC. When we started planning our trip to San Francisco, I checked the rates at the Kimpton Hotels there. I was pleasantly surprised to see that several fit into our budget. We were tempted by the Sir Francis Drake. We’d previously been to the Starlight Room at the top of the hotel for dancing and cocktails. We’d also eaten at Scala’s Bistro on another visit a couple of years ago. So the Sir Francis Drake had familiarity going for it.

(Brief side notes: One night during our stay we went up to the Starlight Room, and we were very disappointed. Rather than a jazz combo with dancing, it was a loud rock band, and they were charging an outrageous minimum to get in. On the other hand, if we had stayed at the Sir Francis Drake, and if we had gotten a room that overlooked Powell Street, we would have had a wonderful view of the Chinese New Year parade that took place while we were in SF.)

But the Serrano looked interesting on the web site. It was in the same general vicinity (the theater district, only three blocks to Union Square), so we decided to give it a try. Absolutely no regrets.

We loved the staff at the Serrano. From the moment we walked in the door, they were upbeat, friendly, and very accommodating. At the registration desk, the clerk informed us that the theme of the Serrano is ‘fun and games.’ After receiving our room keys, we were presented with a basket of novelty items and invited to pick one each.

“If nothing else, you’re already done with your souvenir shopping,” we were told. I picked an Alcatraz shot glass. My wife picked a large fuzzy dice.

The fun continued upon entering our room. In the closet hung guest bathrobes – one zebra stripe, the other leopard spots. In the armoire, combination entertainment center and dresser, besides the TV and honor bar, there were a deck of playing cards and an Etch-A-Sketch.

As we were unpacking, there was a knock at the door. It was housekeeping, delivering to us a box of truffles and a chilled bottle of organic ale.

The Serrano was ideally located for us as inveterate walkers. We walked everywhere in San Francisco, up hills and down. But no matter where we walked, we were never far from our friendly ‘home’ in the City.

Every afternoon for an hour, the Serrano holds a complimentary reception with wine, beer, and salty snacks. Back to the ‘fun and games’ theme – the lobby is full of fun, old board games like we used to play as kids, and like we played with our kids. So each night, we grabbed a glass of wine, introduced ourselves to different people, and played a game. One night it was Yahtzee. The other two nights it was Sorry.

Everyone who we met at the Serrano had the same delighted reaction that we did. And we met such an interesting array of people. Probably our favorite were a young Irish couple. We actually have stayed in touch with them by e-mail. Twice we played Sorry with another young couple from Miami. They were so excited about the hotel that they decided that they would make a point of staying in a different Kimpton Hotel once a month until they’d stayed at them all!

Who knows what those youngsters (not much older than our own kids) thought of two old grandparents playing kid’s games and drinking wine in a faux Spanish hotel lobby. But we didn’t care. We’re young at heart, and the Serrano brought out our playful spirits. It’s a hotel we’ll always remember.

1 comment:

Trini said...

Interesting to know.