Updated Old-World Elegance at the Renovated San Francisco Warwick Hotel

The Warwick Hotel, one of San Francisco’s most storied hotels, recently received a much-needed renovation. With updated rooms and one of the city’s hottest new restaurants, the Warwick may be the city’s best new “old” hotel.

Located on Geary Street just steps from Union Square the Powell Street cable car line, the Warwick started its life as the Beaux-Arts-style Maryland Hotel in 1913. It was built by famed local architect Arthur Brown Jr., who also designed San Francisco’s City Hall and the Coit Tower. Though the $8 million renovation brought the hotel up-to-date, many of the period details from a century ago remain, giving the hotel a sophisticated old-world elegance.  The first of these details you’ll notice upon entering; a 100-year-old chandelier hangs in the lobby and the original murals remain above the elevators.

A deluxe room with the original 1913 armiore and headboard

A deluxe room with the original 1913 armoire and headboard


The Warwick is one of San Francisco’s smaller hotels, with only 74 rooms. Fifty-four of those rooms are deluxe rooms,  the majority of which have one queen bed. Compact but not cramped, they are decorated in royal blue, crisp white, gold, and cream. Many also have one yellow accent wall, a nod to the Maryland hotel’s nickname of “the house of sunshine and hospitality.” The original 1913 headboards remain, along with refurbished wooden armories and the walls are decorated with period photos from the San Francisco Public Library archives.

There are plenty of modern touches too: every room has energy-efficient lighting, a flat-screen tv, mini-fridge, and back-lit vanity mirror.

Twenty of the rooms are suites, many of which have balconies – a rare luxury in a downtown San Francisco hotel. My suite was divided by mirrored French doors. It had a large sitting room with work desk, pull-out couch, coffee table, and flat screen tv as well as a bedrooms with another tv, queen bed, large closet, and mini-fridge. As an added bonus, there were two bathrooms – one in the bedroom with a shower and tub and one in the front room with a standing shower.

The room was definitely one of the more spacious I have seen in San Francisco and the attention to detail (like outlets above the bedside tables on either side) made it almost entirely without fault. However, my room was on the second floor above an alley, which on Saturday night, meant a fair bit of noise late into the night. If you’re a light sleeper, ask for a room higher up or away from the alley side, or bring earplugs.

Many of the suites have balconies, which is very rare for a downtown hotel in San Francisco.

The sitting room in a suite

The sitting room in a suite

The hotel provides limited services and amenities, but most other things guests might need are just outside or around the corner. Onsite, there’s 24-hour room service; laundry, valet, and shoeshine service; weekday newspaper delivery; complimentary afternoon tea and cookies in the lobby; and a business center and meeting rooms. Wifi is available for $9.95 per day and guests have access to an off-site fitness center.

When I checked in, the front desk staff offered an area map and information on the surroundings. They were also letting guests know about the city’s Hop On, Hop Off tourist buses, which pick-up right in front of the hotel.

Original period details like mirrors, light fixtures, carvings, and the lobby chandelier

Original period details like mirrors, light fixtures, carvings, and the lobby chandelier

Also onsite, the hotel houses the newly-opened Aveline restaurant, helmed by Top Chef contestant, Chef Casey Thompson. Before dinner, I stopped into the lobby-adjacent bar, The European, for a cocktail and a preview of Chef Thompson’s skills, which are showcased in the less expensive but equally inventive small plates available at the bar. My husband and I sampled the crispy and airy fried mustard greens, which were served with a deconstructed “deviled egg” dip. I also sipped a creamy yet effervescent Violet Fizz cocktail.

For dinner, we put our wine selection in the hands of the excellent sommelier, Betsy Ross, who paired each dish with a half-glass of wine. We shared a few of the chef’s signature dishes: the buttery crab macaroons (served in a macaroon box tied with string), the decadent yolk beignet topped with wagyu and lardo, a melt-in-your-mouth sea bass in a smoked tea sauce (and perfectly – though unexpectedly –  paired with a pinto noir) and then finally the American wagyu with mushrooms. Everything was delicious and the meal felt as polished and sophisticated as the setting.

Aveline restaurant and the European bar

Aveline restaurant and the European bar


Room rates start at around $259-$289 per night, with rates as low as $189 on select slow-season dates.  Check-in is at 3pm; check-out is at noon. You can make your reservations directly online through the Warwick San Francisco or compare rates and book through Expedia.

I was a guest of the Warwick Hotel but all opinions are my own.

One Response

  1. blank Makoto February 13, 2016

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