Just Another San Francisco California Getaway by Barbara L. Steinberg©
I embrace every opportunity to travel my adopted California home. And I know no better way to travel California then in stress-free comfort aboard Amtrak. So I was thrilled when a San Francisco meeting provided the occasion to get aboard the Capitol Corridor from Sacramento to that beautiful city by the bay. The train rumbles into Emeryville where a connector bus whisks you across the Bay Bridge into downtown San Francisco.
So the transportation’s figured out. Now where to stay? With so many lodging possibilities, it’s always handy that my years of California livelihood have brought me many good friends in the hospitality world. Among those friends, I am pleased to count California-based Joie de Vivre (JDV) Hotels. On this particular jaunt I needed someplace close to Amtrak’s San Francisco drop-off points and my meeting location. JDV has a number of San Francisco hotels and I was pleased to land at the Galleria Park Hotel on Sutter Street – a perfectly-situated 10- to 15-minute walk from everywhere I needed or wanted to be.
Though I could have jumped off the Amtrak connector bus closer to my San Francisco hotel, I opted for the Ferry Building. Why? Well, the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market was in full swing on another sunny California Tuesday and a positively brilliant San Francisco day. I couldn’t miss this chance to peruse local produce vendors and cafés…inside and out! The San Francisco Ferry Building is a year-round representation of all culinary delights from California and around the world. For me…Mecca! After making the rounds, doing my fair share of sampling, and a fabulous lunch (another story), I made my way up Market Street past the daily S.F. Artist Market at Justin Herman Plaza. Past wonderful store fronts. Interesting public art. Shoeshine stands. The homeless. It’s all part of the urban experience.
The walk is over too fast and there I am in the lobby of the Galleria Park Hotel. Built in 1911, the restored hotel is a mix of Art Deco/Art Nouveau meets mid-Century modern and 21st-century trendy. A friendly staff checks me in and I ascend to Room 415. The décor has shades of purple and green, which I enjoy against the contrast of the historic architecture. Neatly dressed in white Frette linens, the king-sized bed looks welcoming but I have work to do and a meeting to attend.
So, the long story made short: It was an easy walk to my meetings. After a long day, I gladly collapsed into the crisp white sheets and cozy pillows. Morning comes and it’s another storybook San Francisco day. I descend to the mezzanine for caffeine. Somewhere around the second floor, a cacophony of voices rises to meet me. There in the lobby is a gathering of hip 20- and 30-somethings (maybe a few older) laughing, chatting, air kissing, and generally having a grand time. Visiting employees of Sephora, they are GPH/JDV regulars…or so I am told. They are having way too much fun. And, now as I recall, this is the same fun-loving group I encountered in the lobby the night before.
BTW…I can’t forget to mention the third-floor Rooftop Park which I almost missed entirely! It pays to read your key portfolio. Take a moment to enjoy its meditative appeal. Plus, the complimentary wine hour 5:30 to 6:30pm daily. And the morning mezzanine caffeine is fresh-brewed and F-R-E-E! There are plenty of local coffee places nearby if you prefer. Another great GPH/JDV service is the great information about things to do. GPH's own GPS or Galleria Park Suggests: A Guide to Chinatown features “What the Locals Know: Chinatown” and "Architectural Walking Tours." Next time I hope to investivage some of these local suggestions. I just so appreciate all the extra attention to detail. It makes traveling so much easier. Especially if you’re a SF first-timer.
The latest California adventure is over too soon. The rocking and rolling Amtrak train is providing incredible sunset and bay views; still a few moments left to reflect. Despite all the fabulous food consumed during my San Francisco escapade, I am suddenly hungry. Something about riding the train, I think. Then I remember the one perfect Pink Lady apple purchased at the Ferry Plaza squirreled away in my bag. What a treat!
What a trip!
A few last California Travel Insider pointers: GPH has great weekday rates, but weekends are even better. It’s located close to great shopping (Union Square, Maiden Lane, Ferry Building, and the Crocker Galleria. No lack of places to dine, of course. But look for the opening of Midi in the hotel lobby. You’re blocks away from SFMOMA, Moscone Center, Carnelian Room, and…well, I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. Oh, yes, they are pet friendly too!
GPH Guestroom Photo Courtesy of JDV Hotels. All other photos credit Barbara Steinberg