Destination: California: San Francisco
Huntington Hotel & Nob Hill Spa
Fans of the genteel Huntington Hotel are low-key travelers who like the privacy and calm and its total lack of a pulsating sense of modernity. They thrill to the old-fashioned pleasure of hearing the clang of the cable car as it rumbles through foggy Nob Hill. The 136-room Huntington, with its timeless style, offers the best of old San Francisco. (For those who are desperate for a fully equipped business center, this is not the place. The hotel can rustle up just one computer and a rather lonely printer.)
Generations of old-money California families who have used the hotel as a convenient pied-à-terre adore the small unfussy lobby for its uncrowded feel and air of a gentlemen’s club. There’s an insider quality to the Huntington, too, particularly as much of the staff have been here for decades and greet guests by name. Design-magazine editors return here year after year, and delight in the non-designed quality of the lobby and the guest rooms.
The chef at the Big 4 restaurant understands this tradition-loving audience, so the menu always includes ultra-classic Dungeness crab bisque, chicken pot pie and venison black-bean chili, in season. The bar, with leather chairs and English-hunting pictures, has a cozy, discreet atmosphere.
It’s the new Nob Hill Spa that gives this ninety-three-year-old San Francisco institution its modern edge. The swimming pool and sunbathing terrace alone are worth the trip, and the saunas and massage rooms are first-rate, especially during the week when you may have the place to yourself, and the mood is meditative and stress-free. Rooms from $350.
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