Posted by Ric Garrido

I have to face the fact that I do not like staying at the St. Regis San Francisco. The hotel has many endearing qualities like a fantastic bed and linens, great bathtub, a large fitness center and pool. There is even a yoga room.

But I get a bad vibe every time I stay at this hotel.

In December I stayed two nights at the St. Regis San Francisco courtesy of the SPG American Express Amex Stars blogger outreach program I was invited to participate in for 2012.

Luxury hotel stays are aspirational for some travelers. After taking advantage of free hotel stays with SPG Amex Stars to visit St. Regis Princeville Kauai, St. Regis San Francisco and St. Regis Bal Harbour (Miami Beach), I have developed the opinion that I love luxury class hotel rooms, but I do not like the luxury hotel environment. The cost of nearly everything at a luxury hotel is more than I care to spend. And the commonly free items at hotels like ice and coffee can set you back $5 to $10 an order throughout your stay.

Even worse for me than the high prices at large luxury hotels are the multitude of staff. The staff members are almost always kind and engaging. There are frequently more staff than guests walking around when I am at a St. Regis. It is kind of like being in a beautiful office building. Most of the people around are employees. And all the greetings from a staff member require a reciprocal response from me. Isn’t it rude not to return a greeting?

St. Regis San Francisco

After more than three years since my last stay at St. Regis San Francisco I thought I would give the hotel another try as my SPG Amex blogger staycation destination. Kelley and I had a great weekend in San Francisco, but the hotel played very little part in that fun. We actually spent most of our time in the Financial District pubs and Le Meridien would have been far more convenient as a Starwood Hotel base location. Le Meridien and W Hotel are my favorite Starwood Hotels in San Francisco.

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TransAmerica Pyramid and nearby Café Prague in Financial District.

Kelley and I arrived just before midnight after spending the evening at my wife’s annual school staff party. The party was raging even harder at the St. Regis lobby bar. The noise was deafening inside the open air confined space where the reception and concierge desks are directly across from the bar and about ten feet away from the crowd filling the lobby space. I could not hear most of the words coming out of the receptionist’s mouth.

I have stayed at this property a few times before so I just needed the room key and no property information. I wanted to be out of the high energy lobby and in the shelter of a high style room.

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Lobby bar seating is directly across from reception. There were probably 20 people in this space when I arrived to check-in eight hours earlier.

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St. Regis San Francisco bar

The 16th floor standard hotel room we received completed my circuit of having stayed on all four sides of the St. Regis hotel. Three times in corner rooms in an Executive Suite, Astor Suite and Metropolitan Suite and two times in the basic room, once on the backside of the hotel and this time on the Third Street front side.

Here is my comprehensive review of the St. Regis San Francisco from 2009 when we stayed in a Premier Executive Suite.

St. Regis San Francisco in HD (Hotel Detail) – Part 1 (June 15, 2009)

St. Regis San Francisco in HD (Hotel Detail) – Part 2 (June 16, 2009)

The room on the 16th floor was the highest room I have stayed among the 20 floors of the hotel. Higher is better at the St. Regis since Third Street and Mission are two of the busiest and loudest roads in downtown San Francisco. The fire truck station is a block away and sirens routinely sound out day and night in this area of the city. Excessive noise is one of the less appealing aspects of being in the hot spot of a major city.

The noise is not what is distracting to me about the St. Regis. Noise is a common factor among most of San Francisco’s hotels and as far as Starwood goes, W and Westin Market Street are on this same street within a block of the St. Regis and Westin St. Francis on Union Square is an even busier location.

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St. Regis window ledge view of Mission Street.

The St. Regis rooms have wide window ledges for sitting if you choose. On a 2009 trip in room 1108, a Metropolitan Suite on the 11th floor, I was awakened by screaming on Mission Street below.

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Metropolitan Suite St. Regis San Francisco

Around 2:00am about two dozen people departed a closing bar and were fighting on the sidewalk and in the middle of Mission Street. After lots of posturing and occasional lunging and fist swinging, two of the combatants pulled knives and the crowd scattered. The cops showed up after 20 minutes, about five minutes after the fight ceased. Nobody appeared to get seriously hurt.

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I placed the chaise cushion on the ledge and watched the young drunks street fighting in the middle of Mission Street from the safety of the 11th floor on my previous stay in 2009.

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Metropolitan Suite living room desk and couch.

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Metropolitan Suite sitting area and dining table.

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Metropolitan Suite bedroom

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Metropolitan Suite bathroom.

That was suite living in 2009 as SPG Platinum, and here is upper floor standard living as SPG Gold in 2012.

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View from St. Regis bathtub

View over Third Street is the best location for St. Regis San Francisco. This is the front side of the hotel and windows look over Yerba Buena Gardens and the western hills of the city.

There are no great water views from the St. Regis that I have seen. St. Regis is about a mile from the waterfront of AT&T baseball park down Third Street or a mile to the Ferry Building on Market Street. The other three sides of the St. Regis hotel face other skyscrapers and more than half the floors on the upper portion of the 42 story building are residential units.

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St. Regis San Francisco – view from W Hotel two buildings south of St. Regis. The lower five floors shown in this photo are the top floors of the 20-floor St. Regis San Francisco hotel. Most of the building floors are residences. Residential unit floors have separate elevators from hotel elevators.

The top floors of the building are the penthouse residential unit that sold for $28 million in December 2011. That could be considered a bargain since the original asking price was $70 million. SF.curbed.com has a photo essay of the penthouse.

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View from Yerba Buena Gardens of St. Regis San Francisco at left and W San Francisco at right.

This time in December I walked into the room to find the lamp on the window ledge flickering light. After driving 80 miles on the freeway at night the last thing I needed was strobe effect room lighting.  I tried tightening the light bulb and finally just pulled the bulb out of the lamp. At midnight I did not want maintenance coming to the hotel room.

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The desk top looked like someone had sliced the leather with a blade.

The hotel has some beautiful interior design, however, this is the second time I was stopped from taking photos of the hotel interior by hotel security. In hundreds of hotel stays around the world, the St. Regis San Francisco is the only hotel that has stopped me from taking photos when I was a registered guest. And this was the second time over a four year period.

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Ame is the St. Regis fine dining restaurant. The Mission Street entry way has a wall of wine.

My reviews from 2009 have all the basics of the hotel with photos of the pool and fitness center.

My photo focus this stay was St. Regis art. This is the stuff the hotel staff did not want me to photograph.

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St. Regis San Francisco interior designs.

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San Francisco exterior designs.

St. Regis San Francisco is a SPG category 6 hotel award at 20,000 points per night. This hotel rarely offers Cash & Points awards.

Blogger Disclosure: The room rate for my stay in a Deluxe room, preferred view was $449 per night. SPG Amex Stars account paid that bill for Loyalty Traveler.

Valet parking was $57 per night after tax. I paid the car parking bill. I would have rather spent the parking money on dining, but it did not work out that way this trip. Hearst Garage on Third Street about 150 yards past the St. Regis hotel charges $25 per night, but no in and out privileges.

Rates for this weekend Feb 17-18 are $425 for a superior low floor room and $745 for a high floor Deluxe room. That is a huge premium for a higher floor.

The Metropolitan Suite will set you back $1,375 per night using a 50% rack rate discount.

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My previous stay at the St. Regis prior to December 2012 was in a Metropolitan Suite in September 2009 as an SPG Platinum member on an award stay.

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

11 Responses

  1. It’s odd that a hotel property doesn’t let guests take photos of the public spaces. Did they explain why?

  2. Interesting perspective , Ric. My wife and I stayed here over a long weekend last year and had a great time. We did use an SNA to guarantee an Astor Suite, so things like coffee and ice were all covered by the butler(s). The lobby bar was never busy during our stay either, so that was no issue.

    The hotel wasn’t particularly busy, and they granted our request for an early checkin on the day of our arrival. The only complaint I had during the stay was when the front desk tried to deny a 4pm checkout. I don’t like having to argue with the front desk about a guaranteed benefit (for a platinum), so that rubbed me the wrong way.

    Coming from the East coast parking was no issue and we did not spend any money at the hotel outside of our rate (which was also a corporate rate at around $250/nt, which admittedly increases the value of the stay for us). It was sort of funny to be staying at the St. Regis, and walking out the front doors around the corner to catch a bus, but I don’t mind that.

  3. [...] the atmosphere at hotels far above the demographic Choice wants is today's post from Ric Garrido: http://boardingarea.com/loyalt…problem-is-me/ I had never thought this through before, and while ignoring the cost of all the little things for [...]

  4. I just stayed here for two nights last week and really enjoyed the room. I agree that the lobby is very loud with lots of people so that could be a little annoying. Also agree that there are almost too many staff members.

  5. I agree about the “luxury environment” sometomes just being too much. Another blog recently had a part about 5 staff members meeting them at a hotel (2 getting luggage, 2 leading him to a an area to wait for his room and the other did something. When I said I wouldn’t even want 5 staff “greeting” me you would have thought I was from another planet based on the comments.

  6. @AAdvantage Geek – Hotel security said the same thing they told me in 2009. It is okay to take pictures of someone in the hotel, but I can’t just walk around taking pictures of the hotel.

    The hotel usually is not busy and loud. That was probably the first time I had been in the St. Regis lobby at midnight when the bar was packed.

    The rooms at the St. Regis are about the best standard rooms in the city. Le Meridien has some balcony rooms which I prefer as an upgrade room.

    Hyatt Regency at the Embarcadero with a balcony patio is what I consider to be one of the best rooms in the city with a Bay water view and the great Regency Club lounge.

    Comment by Ric Garrido on February 17th, 2013 at 6:30 am
  7. When I mentioned the Metropolitan Suite to my wife yesterday she reminded me that was the room when we went to bed around midnight and learned the AC in the room was not working.

    And we did not want maintenance in the room at midnight to fix the problem.

    @Zach – The $5 to $10 comment is about luxury hotel trends. St. Regis Princeville had a coffee maker in the room. St. Regis San Francisco has complimentary coffee in the foyer to Vitrine Restaurant on Floor 4. St. Regis Bal Harbour and St. Regis Monarch Beach I had to pay for coffee.

    The ice comment is from a hotel where we stayed in Europe one summer where I racked up about $40 in charges having room service ice to chill our store bought beer.

    Most luxury hotels I have stayed do not have floor ice machines.

    Comment by Ric Garrido on February 17th, 2013 at 6:40 am
  8. I spent two nights at the St Regis San Francisco in 2009. The rooms were compliments of a stay 2 get 1 night free promotion SPG was running at the time (I miss those!). At the time I only had SPG Gold status and they upgraded my wife and I to an Astor Suite.
    A suite upgrade off a free night promotion for a Gold Elite member was something you rarely get.
    I agree that the added amenities can be pretty steep, but I have nothing but great memories of this hotel!

  9. Many other great options in SF. I agree the St Regis is a disappointment.

  10. I expect that they don’t want you to wander around taking photos because you look like a) thief casing the joint or the customers b) a competitor checking out the place.

    Though letting you take photos of folks is one way that those two would get around their rules. Just have your sweetie stand in front of the multimillion piece of art. :-)

  11. I agree with Helen C … There are so many great Hotels near by … Even my favs The Palace and the WHotel- both SPG and extremely close by. The value dust doesn’t pan out for the Regis.

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