Hotel With A Heart: San Francisco’s Hotel Rex

The Library Bar is the heart of the Hotel Rex   photo by Paul Dyer

Named for San Francisco poet Kenneth Rexroth, considered a central figure in the San Francisco Renaissance, which made the city a hive of poetic activity during the 20s and 30s, the Hotel Rex has been impeccably restored to exude the ambiance and attitude prevalent in the galleries and literary salons that popped up around town during that time. Literary big wigs that have hallowed the halls of the Hotel Rex since then include greats like David Sedaris and Michael Ondaatje. But the Rex is a porch light for travelers, tourists, and libation loving locals too. And in a city where hotel prices soar and guests can be just a number, this boutique gem in the heart of downtown has perfected the art of personal.

Locals and guests love to meet and greet at the Hotel Rex

The hub of the smoke-free, dog friendly hotel is the Library Bar, which opens daily at 5pm.  It’s not uncommon to see a solo guest lingering with a book, families enjoying  a pre-dinner snack, or colleagues relaxing after a long day at the office. There’s always a party or special event going on, and for tourists, the Hotel Rex is ideally situated for discovering San Francisco, near the Cable Car line, just a couple blocks to Union Square with its high end shopping, and a few blocks from China Town. But what makes the Hotel Rex special is its commitment to keeping the meet and greet spirit alive in San Francisco, and Manager Xavier Bon and his staff  go above and beyond to create an atmosphere worthy of a great night in.

Monday Movie Night, Wednesday Records at the Rex (the bartender spins his own vinyl collection) and Friday Jazz featuring revolving acts are just a few of the reasons to drop in.  Or you can simply relax and have a single malt amidst the antique books, globes, hand painted lampshades, original art, and caricatures of famous poets and writers. A cafe onsite offers freshly prepared fare and a menu full of items that fall under thematic  headings like “Short Stories” (spicy prawns)  “Novellas” (Cream of Asparagus soup)  “Novels” (Fish and Chips)  “Text Books (Rex Burger) and  “Afterword” (Mango Passion Cheesecake), to name just a few.  Each night,  guests are invited to drop by the Library Bar from 5pm-6pm, for a free glass of wine and a chance to mingle with other guests and locals who arrive from all corners of the world.

The Hotel Rex has 94 rooms and suites, each decorated in a “Provence Countryside” color palette. Each offers comforts like robes, soft linens, and warm duvets to relaxed, but the real heart of the hotel is found where people meet and greet; where artists, literati, and travelers still gather for a convivial and communal experience in San Francisco. And in a city where plenty of people have left their hearts, that’s saying something!

An air of French Country decorates the rooms at the Hotel Rex                                    photo courtesy of Hotel Rex

Visit the hotel website or Joie de Vivre Hotels main page.


Rates: From $189 per room per night for a Deluxe Queen Room to $289 per room per night for a One Bedroom Suite.

*Rates vary by demand and time of year. Check with hotel for packages.

Check prices online at

Good To Know:  BART and the Cable Car are just a few blocks away;  Hotel is 2-blocks from Sutter-Stockton parking garage; Free wifi.  $40/nt Valet Parking


Kimberley Lovato is a freelance writer in San Francisco who meets and greets monthly at the Hotel Rex.

Hotel Rex in the heart of San Francisco  photo by Paul Dyer

About The Author