The Charming Elegance of the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco, A Truly Hidden TreasureOct 15th, 2011 | By Joyce Maroon | Category: Hotels, Relax and Rewind
Perched atop San Francisco’s beautiful Nob Hill, the Huntington Hotel overlooks charming Huntington Park, stately Grace Cathedral and the city skyline, as San Francisco’s iconic cable cars glide past the front of the hotel.
San Fransicso’s Nob Hill has always been home to the rich and famous. As the city grew and changed throughout the years, one thing remained consistent: Nob Hill is still San Francisco’s crown jewel and the Huntington Hotel its hidden jewel. Sure there are other nearby hotels, like the Fairmont and the Mark Hopkins, but the Huntington truly is a hidden treasure.
In the old days of the “wild west” Nob Hill was covered with mansions of the railroad barons of the Pacific Line, known as the Big Four. They were Collis Hunk Grin, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins and Charles Croker. The Tobin family, founders of the Hiberian bank, joined their affluent counterparts on Nob Hill in the 1870′s. They built a huge Victorian home on the site of what is now known as the Huntington Hotel.
In 1922, construction began on the former site of the Tobin mansion, located on the corner of California and Taylor. The result was a 12-story residential apartment hotel building. In 1924, a real estate developer by the name of Eugene Fritz purchased the Huntington Apartments and in 1945, he began transforming the apartments into the Huntington Hotel. Mr. Fritz maintained the original room sizes and for this reason the Hotel’s guest rooms are quite larger than most hotel rooms. This building was once described as the “last word in luxury”.
In 1950, Mr. Fritz stunned the hotel industry that is typically run by men and turned over the hotel’s ownership to his 14 year old daughter, Dorothy. In 1967, Dorothy married Newton Cope, a Sacramento real estate developer, California historian and restaurateur. This marriage cemented the family’s commitment to Northern California’s hospitality industry.
Upon my arrival to the Huntington, I was greeted by the most friendly and welcoming face, that of Al Tullis, the doorman. Al has a way of making you feel at home right away and is quick to assist you in anything you might need help with. I couldn’t help but be drawn into a conversation with Al and discovered that he has been working at the Huntington Hotel for 17 years now. Even more interesting, Al commutes into work every day from Morgan Hill, that’s approximately 150 miles each way, each day. I asked him why he does it and his response was quick and jovial. He told me he loved what he did and the fact that his work is on top of a hill that has some of the most exquisite sites in all of the Bay Area was just the icing on the cake.
During my stay at the Huntington it was quite evident that its staff took great pride in their work and their hotel. They were very welcoming and treated guests like family. Where else can you get this kind of treatment in Nob Hill?
Amongst this hidden and luxurious hotel you will find the Big 4 Restaurant, named after the CentralPacific Railroad’s “big Four” tycoons. The restaurant’s sultry ambiance showcases Mr. Cope’s amazing collection of 19th century railroad and early California memorabilia. On a side note the restaurant has live Piano performance every night from 5:00 pm until 12:00 a.m.
The hotel also boasts a three level world renowned spa, the Nob Hill Spa which will be reviewed separately. The spa became an addition to the hotel in 2001 and is an absolute treasure. I can tell you that this truly is my favorite spa in all of Northern California.
Besides the elegance and comfort of this hotel, what drew me to it was the antiques that are nonchalantly placed within the hotel and blending them into the new look of the hotel. Every corner has a surprise. I can’t wait until my next visit there, who knows what I might discover or who I might run into.
Here’s a short slideshow with some apropos music. Enjoy the virtual visit!