Privilege Blog

Luxury Hotels, St. Regis San Francisco.

I love luxury hotels. Hmm. Maybe not a sign of extreme discernment. But I don’t know if its one of those “Duh!” kind of things, or whether some really don’t care for the atmosphere. Wouldn’t want to presume. So let’s assume we are talking about a quirky predilection.

Given my preferences, I’m lucky to have stayed in a fair number of these places. The Lake Palace in Udaipur, St. Regis in Shanghai, Intercontinental in Prague, The Helmsley Palace and 60 Thompson in New York. The Peninsula in Chicago. Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. The Beverly Hills Hotel with my sisters for my 50th birthday. Where we all slept in one room with a trundle bed. Oh, and on the 82nd floor of the Shanghai Grand Hyatt, known locally as the Jin Mao. Neon on the horizon. The Four Seasons on the Big Island. But I am losing my train of thought in dreams of walking barefoot through hibiscus.

These days I’m less apt to splurge carelessly for a night, or nights, of grandeur. But, I can still sit in the hotel bar with some friends. And have been known to do so. Welcome to the St. Regis, San Francisco.

Zebrawood paneling. Low seats in colors like sage. A mural.

And a chandelier over the the bar itself. What? Haven’t you always wanted a chandelier to accompany your Junipero gin martini? Sauvignon Blanc? That peaty Scotch?

I don’t keep company with zebrawood on an every day basis. Nor chandeliers. Not even murals, although I suppose the wall marks left by kids bumping around might sort of count. But I can stash a green Waiwera water bottle in my bag. Take it home. Kind of like beach glass, if you will.

Confession. Even though I had paid in full for that water I felt a momentary High WASP pang of, “Is this OK? Am I allowed? Really?” as I walked out the door. A wave of preliminary blushing about the neck of the bottle sticking out the top of my already embarrassing Louis Vuitton. Sometimes you have to follow the signs of beauty past decorum.

Me, last week.
The Perfect Hotels
SF Photorama
Me, this morning.

37 Responses

  1. I feel soothed and so much more calm after reading- thank you for this post! BTW- we are an Intercontinental family. Loves it!



  2. This blog really takes me away.Seriously…in a good way. I'm transported out of my daily psychosis to wherever your words surround. You are better than a psychiatrist.

  3. Your Grande Dame side is showing! I come from a long, long line of Sturdy Gals. The sort of women who would stay on the Junior League floor of the Waldorf Astoria. That would be downright racy!

    I love to hear about the life of a woman who has a dash of Grande Dame.

  4. I stayed at the Grand Hyatt the last time I was in Shanghai… More than anything else, I really appreciated how they found a way to help a new mother to safely freeze and store "liquid gold."

  5. A little bit of high waspishness that we can all indulge in. How clever of you to suggest we can simply go for cocktails. I think I'll go for drinks in the Bengal Room at the Empress Hotel!
    BTW, I love that you stashed the bottle into the LV., yet another reason that you chose that bag.
    Oliver's at the Mayflower Park in Seattle is a wonderful bar if you ever come north.

  6. I was a member of the Victoria Junior League back in the 80's but they folded after 10 or so years as there were not enough volunteers. We had so much fun and worked hard on worthy causes, I was disappointed when it ended.

  7. There was a floor on the Waldorf Astoria dedicated to the Junior League. That is where I've stayed with family. We tend to go to the same hotels again and again.

    Nothing at all bad about the Junior League. Been a member for years and years. :)

  8. Mmmmm…peaty scotch. Nom nom nom nom nom.

    I love luxury hotels, too. I wish I had the opportunity (and money) to stay in them more often.

  9. The Junior League does great stuff. Wonderful place for some. Not the place for others. No judgement either way.

  10. Beautiful pics…I loved the Beverly Hills Hotel. Not that I stayed there, mind you. I just traipsed through with two friends during a trip in pharmacy school. We had to pee and we wanted to look. I thought the bathroom was so cool because they have those little signs to turn to say vacant/occupied when you are in the stall. And since we were the only ones in there…oh yes, I took a picture. Yee haw.

  11. I've never stayed anywhere more up market than a Hilton hotel or Hyatt, I find them mostly bland and dull. I much prefer boutique hotels (good ones) where they know your name and become your friends.

  12. Wow! I'd love to travel with you, wish I had the time but with a 3 1/2 year old tagging along it would probably spoil the mood.

  13. When I was just a wee young college student, at a chi-chi women's college, my girlfriends and I would get all dressed up and go out for cocktails, the real kind, not wine by the glass, at one of the most wonderful old fashioned hotel bars in San Francisco. I remember the wood panelling, the murals on the wall and the piano player…but I can't remember the name of the bar!
    I still like the staid elegance of hotel bars like bar at the Bel Air Hotel and the Polo Lounge.

  14. I have never stayed in a luxery hotel but one time my husband had reservations at one for a weekend as a surprise for me. He was picking me up from the airport as I had been to Florida to visit my daughter and granddaughter. I ended up getting stuck in the Indianopolis airport for the night due to a snow storm. My husband ended up getting to stay in this very expensive hotel all by himself for the weekend while I was stuck in airports. Some day we will try again! :)

  15. Wouldn't the bottle be pretty with a single stem elegantly poking out? Can one elegantly poke?! I'm glad you took it home…

  16. The Ex travels for his work,gaining points at some pretty amazing places, which he then passes along to me to take the kids away. We've stayed at some amazing hotels (good enough reason to stay on amicable terms!).
    Love that bottle.

  17. I 'borrowed' a bowl of nuts from the Boston Harbor Hotel bar to eat in the cab on the way home – in my defense, the drinks are *really* expensive, so I figured I'd sort of paid for it, I had no dinner and I intended to return it.

    But I didn't.

  18. I need to point out, I have never taken a towel from a hotel. But you have reminded me, somehow I did wind up with one from a health club. With logo. I have no defense.

  19. I am guilty of lifting a glass form the Faculty Club at UBC because I was with a gentleman whose initial were FC….and he dared me, I also must say I was slightly impaired or I NEVER would have done it! That is my true confession…plus he drove a red vintage bathtub porsche!

  20. Reading your posts really do make my day! I also love hotel bars. There is just something about them that makes that drink taste a little better!

  21. Love to go to luxurious hotel bars as well as restaurant bars and eat appetizers as a main course.

  22. LPC – If you haven't been, you must visit the the Palace Hotel in sF (E. of Union Sq). It is celebrating its 100th year. There is a lovely Maxfield Parrish mural over the bar, among other features.

    Last time I was in SF, I arranged to stay at a convention hotel in Union Square for a quick visit on my way to a wedding in San Jose. They were overbooked and offered me a taxi and night at the Fairmont in Nob Hill instead. I let them insist, and then graciously gave in. That night I walked to LIttle Italy for dinner and stopped at City Lights Book Store – a great place to go when you run out of perspectives from which to consider Privelege. To celebrate my stay at the Fairmont, I purchased "Class Acts: Service and Inequality in Luxury Hotels." Author: Rachel Sherman. It is a sociological study of the "production" of luxury service. She interviewed guests and worked in a variety of roles within hotels to understand the perspectives that guests and workers bring to the "transaction."

  23. We refer to it as "obligatory nude behind the bar" as that frequently seems to be the subject matter and it is located there so often!

    Love this post Miss LPC, as always,

  24. Yes, the St Regis and also the Clift! Love good hotels, everything is bathed in a romantic glow even if you;re there with crabby kids. My favourite: L'Hotel in Paris, The Portobello Hotel, London.

  25. Yes, the Palace is beautiful. I haven't been into the Clift since it was remodeled. Which was a LONG time ago…I was thinking those bottles would be great for one of those DIY/rural/photogenic weddings. Collect a bunch, stick some peach colored Geberas in them, go.

  26. Lisa — You should come visit us in Hong Kong. Hanging out at hotels is totally normal behavior for locals (which it wasn't, so far as I remember in my years living in the U.S. and Canada).

    Businesspeople go for cocktails at The Mandarin or The Peninsula ("The Pen") after work. Working/middle-class folk like my extended family go out for buffet dinners at the 3- and 4-stars.

    Here, 4- star has a different meaning, I think, than America. My husband, a French chef, runs two formal restaurants at the Holiday Inn, with decent wine collections. Before, they had a French restaurant with foie gras, confit de canard, etc. (My American memory of Holiday Inn is of a highway motel where the remote control was glued onto the bedside table.)

    Anyway, there has always been a friendly rivalry between us and Shanghai. I'd like to think our hotels are more glamourous!

    P.S. The single-most stolen item from the dining operations, according to my husband? Silver coffee spoons. God knows why.

  27. Yes, I sneaked away during a dinner function that had Anthony Bourdain as a guest host, to go to my room and pump… and then I sneaked back in.

  28. I would love to come to Hong Kong. I am sure some day I will. I love the story of the coffee spoons. That and Anthony Bourdain. What can I even say?

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