Kimpton Takes Center Stage in San Francisco.

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The recently renovated Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf.
The recently renovated Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Kimpton and San Francisco go hand-in-hand: Both the brand and the city are a little bit quirky, in a good way, and both are not shy about expressing their whimsical side. But more importantly, Kimpton opened its very first hotel in San Francisco back in 1981. In fact, to this day, Kimpton has quite a stronghold on this California city’s hotel landscape.

It’s home to nine Kimpton properties—five of which are right by Union Square—and each, as we learned while touring the different properties over the course of a long weekend, offers its own personality, although we called the newly renovated four-star Hotel Monaco, nestled in the heart of the theater district, home for the duration of our stay.

“The Hotel Monaco is a visually stunning hotel. What makes us stand out is our genuine commitment to enriching our guests’ lives when they visit us,” says Troy Jones, area director of sales and marketing for Kimpton. “We want our guests to feel comfortable, have fun and take care of themselves while they are on the road.”

The 201-room hotel, located two blocks from Union Square, definitely evokes a grand European ambiance, with its marble staircase in the lobby, and painted ceilings and plush chairs in a cozy area known as The Living Room. While the Monaco has a sophisticated feel, it still has its Kimpton quirks with fun touches like a welcome sign and water bowls out front for the pets checking in, as well as the option of Kimpton providing a pet with its Guppy Love program, placing a goldfish in your client’s room during their stay (don’t worry—the staff will tend to the fish).

The new look of the rooms combines modern and luxurious touches, definitely keeping the female traveler in mind—black-and-white bathrooms and rooms with over-the-top mirrors, colorful stripes on the walls and pops of color on the furniture and pillows.

While some of the rooms feature street views and nice window ledges one can sit on, our room was tucked in the center of the building with an uninspiring view of a courtyard below. Notwithstanding the view, the rest of the room had everything a traveler could want—a desk doubling as a stand for the flat-screen TV, a carousel of outlets, as well as built-in outlets in the nightstands (perfect for charging a cell phone), and more than enough space to spread out—making the room ideal for workouts.

We rolled out the in-room yoga mat and did an early morning Pilates video, available on the brand’s on-demand yoga and Pilates channel. One of our favorite new additions at Kimpton is the complimentary Roll-Out Service, where a member of the hotel comes to roll out the mat and supply guests with extra towels, flavored water, and fresh or dried fruit and nuts. While we didn’t call down for the service, we did enjoy the fact that it was so easy to squeeze in a workout while traveling, especially since we didn’t want to bother with using the hotel’s gym. Tell clients that if they are interested in this program, to inquire about it upon check-in because they don’t want a staff member scrambling early in the morning (it’s a new program, so it might not be top of mind).

Guestrooms start at $279 per night, while suites start at $359 per night.

The Starlight Room at Sir Francis Drake Hotel.
The Starlight Room at Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

out and about

Hotel Monaco makes for a great home base to explore San Francisco. It’s in a central location near the shops at Union Square, where travelers can also hop on the cable cars, and not a far walk from the gate to Chinatown.

San Francisco is a great town for a stroll since downtown is so compact, but its public transportation system also makes it easy for travelers to get to some of the top sites in the city, such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, a waterfront marketplace where travelers can see the sea lions basking in the sun; the iconic Haight Street; Golden Gate Park; and The Golden Gate Bridge, to name a few. And if your clients are heading to San Francisco next month, let them know the city will be hosting the 34th America’s Cup Finals in the bay.

packaged deal

For clients who prefer being close to the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf, recommend the recently renovated Argonaut Hotel, set in the Haslett Warehouse dating back to 1907. It features 252 rooms and suites playing on a nautical theme. The new design is based on the sleeping quarters of a steamer ship making its way to San Francisco—blue glass-blown lamps next to the bed, star-shaped pillows, and exposed brick and warehouse steel doors. For clients interested in exploring the area, this four-diamond Kimpton hotel is offering the Bike the Golden Gate Bridge package, which features accommodations for two, a full American breakfast for two at the Blue Mermaid Chowder House & Bar, and full-day bicycle rentals for two adults.

We experienced the package first-hand: first dining at the restaurant and then gearing up for the 8-mile bike ride from Fort Mason across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito or Tiburon, where travelers can catch the ferry back. While we didn’t make it all the way across the bridge, we did bike around the area taking in the beautiful weather (everyone told us we came during one of the best months of the year, May, so take note when you are recommending when to visit) and the scenery by the water.

Rates start at $375 per night (use code PBGG).

Chinatown is one of the city's most eclectic neighborhoods.
Chinatown is one of the city’s most eclectic neighborhoods.

sunday’s a drag

Known as the “gay capital of the world,” with one of the largest per capita gay populations on the globe, the city embraces its history and heritage with landmarks such as a giant rainbow flag flying in the Harvey Milk Plaza in The Castro, considered to be one of the country’s first gay neighborhoods, with gay bars, clubs and shops.

So it seems fitting that brunch in San Francisco should include a drag show. Set on the 21st story of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, The Starlight Room puts travelers in prime seats to take in 360-degree views of the city. While the space serves as a swanky nightclub and lounge by night, on Sundays it transforms for the Sunday’s a Drag brunch show. The perfect setting for a drag show, with its intimate booths and 1920s glamour (the hotel dates back to 1928 and Prohibition times), the girls put on quite a performance, especially with their renditions of “Barbie Girl” and Rihanna’s “Diamonds.”

After your clients indulge at brunch, let them in on a little secret about this property—it features a Prohibition Room, which was once a speakeasy in the 1920s. While they can’t access the room on their own—it requires a special key in the elevator—they can request to tour the room, located between the first and second floors.

getting there

American Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Virgin America offer direct flights to San Francisco International Airport from major North American gateways.

Kimpton Perks

Across the brand, Kimpton has a variety of fitness and social options that your clients can get in on—all included in their hotel stay. For starters, all of the hotels in San Francisco feature complimentary bikes that guests can take out for a spin around town. The properties also offer running maps for those looking to work out while on the road, and some even host morning runs, which might just be a guest and general manager, depending on the turnout for the day.

Oh, and did we mention the free wine? You heard right—every night at 5 p.m. the hotels host a complimentary wine hour.

And while people get a lot of perks at Kimpton, pets get just as much love with Pet Friendly accommodations. From water bowls and snacks in the lobby greeting pets checking in to in-room pet beds and bowls, guests can rest assured that their pets will be well taken care of, with no extra fees or deposits.

sightseeing with CityPASS

San Francisco’s CityPASS makes getting around town even easier with unlimited access to public transportation and admission to attractions. With the pass, your clients can hop on one of those famous cable cars, as well as Muni buses and streetcars, with a 7-day unlimited ride passport. The pass also includes single admission to the California Academy of
Sciences; a Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise; admission to either the Aquarium of the Bay or the Monterey Bay Aquarium; and admission to the Exploratorium or the de Young Museum and Legion of Honor.

The best way for agents to earn commission is by becoming a CityPASS affiliate, receiving 10 percent commission on each pass sold linking from the agent’s website to the CityPASS site.

Passes are $84 for adults and $59 for children. or

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