Bloomingdales restaurant fashion valley
Known as the City by the Bay, San Francisco is arguably the most cosmopolitan and bohemian city in America. It is also one of the most beautiful, with its pretty houses and hilly streets providing beautiful views of the bay and the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
Where to stay in San Francisco
601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito (00 1 415 339 4700; www.cavallopoint.com). Surrounded by pine trees on Marin Headlands, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Cavallo Point is the area's first National Park lodge. Run by Passport Resorts in partnership with the National Park Service, the hotel is in Fort Baker, a military post built to protect San Francisco Bay during World War II. The original officers' quarters have been converted into 68 rooms and suites with fireplaces, ceiling fans and porches furnished with rocking chairs; 74 additional contemporary rooms are built on a hillside. There is a big spa, and the restaurant is led by Joseph Humphrey. £££
495 Geary Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 775 4700; www.clifthotel.com). Hotelier Ian Schrager's Clift hotel is located in the heart of San Francisco's theatre district. A fantastical interior has been designed by Philippe Starck with oversized floor lamps in the lobby and sleigh beds and Man Ray-inspired decor in the 375 rooms. The restaurant is an outlet of Schrager's trendy Asia de Cuba. £££
FOUR SEASONS SAN FRANCISCO
757 Market Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 633 3000; www.fourseasons.com). Space is the thing here. Kids will love to be let lose in the giant lobby; adults will love the 6,960sq ft ballroom, the 2,760sq ft Presidential Suite and the 100,000sq ft sports club with lap pool, basketball court and Splash spa. £££££
HOTEL DES ARTS
447 Bush Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 956 3232; www.sfhoteldesarts.com). This quirky, stylish hotel is in an excellent location on the cable-car route next to Chinatown and downtown. The rooms may be small and frill-free, but they are filled with big-statement modern art from known and emerging artists, including Damon Soule, Tricia Choi, Sam Flores and Shepard Fairey. Standard perks include a complimentary continental breakfast and free Wi-Fi access. What little public space there is - narrow hallways, shared bathrooms and a breakfast room - is enlivened with works of art (even the central air shaft is decorated with colourful murals). ££
HOTEL DEL SOL
3100 Webster Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 921 5520; www.jdvhotels.com). A converted 1950s motor lodge with 57 rooms, run by the Joie de Vivre hotel group. Retro-lovers should take one of the 10 themed suites, from The Love Shack (hippy-dippy) to The Dream Factory (Zsa Zsa glamour). ££
440 Geary Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 885 0200; www.hoteldiva.com). Hotel Diva occupies a prime spot opposite the American Conservatory Theater and Philippe Starck's swanky Redwood Room. An oversized TV screen in the glitzy lobby shows film clips of famous divas. There are 116 smallish rooms with DVD players, flat-screen TVs, sleek Artemide lamps, cool blue carpets and stainless-steel bathrooms. This hotel is great value, with Wi-Fi, daily papers, business and fitness centres included in the price. Morning muffins and apples are available, Colibrí restaurant serves Mexican food. The price and location mean that the Diva is sometimes too popular, especially at check-in and check-out times. £
1625 Post Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 922 3200; www.jdvhotels.com/kabuki. This light-filled Zen retreat in funky Japantown recently underwent a -million refurbishment by the Joie de Vivre hotel group, which also owns the Kabuki Springs & Spa just down the street (guests receive free passes to the Kabuki Spa). You get a Japanese tea service on arrival, and the comfortable rooms have balconies accessed through sliding shoji-screen doors printed with paintings of geishas and samurai. From the top floors there are views of Twin Peaks and other city landmarks. The bathrooms come with eucalyptus bath salts and wooden buckets for Japanese-style bathing, and some have deep soaking tubs. The restaurant, Izakaya Lounge, serves a Japanese breakfast bento and hosts a karaoke night every Thursday. ££
1500 Sutter Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 441 1100; www.thehotelmajestic.com). Built in 1902 as a home for railroad magnate Milton Schmidt, the Majestic is a meticulously restored Edwardian mansion south of Pacific Heights providing old-world glamour at down-to-earth prices. The actresses Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland both lived here, and visitors seeking a more 'neighbourhood' feel will want to move in as well. Large bay windows flood the 58-room hotel with light; suites are furnished with four-posters, claw-footed tubs and armoires. English antiques, Biedermeier chairs and French Empire chandeliers complete the look. The French-Californian restaurant, Café Majestic, opened in 2007 to rave reviews for chef Ian Begg's fresh, seasonal cooking, including dishes such as Kobe beef tartare, crispy polenta cakes with wild mushrooms and butter-basted Alaskan halibut. ££
501 Geary Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 292 0100; www.monaco-sf.com). Directly across the road from the Clift (see above), the Monaco boasts a rich and dramatic decor: red-lacquer wall coverings and canopied beds in 201 rooms, including 35 suites, some with two-person Jacuzzi tubs. £££
562 Sutter Street (00 1 415 433 4434; fax: 433 3695; www.thehotelrex.com). Just off Union Square, this hotel has 94 rooms and is themed around literature and the arts of the jazz age. Style: literary artistic salon of the 1920s and 1930s, with old books and portraits of local authors, including Dashiel Hammett. ££
8 Mission Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 278 3700; www.hotelvitale.com). An eco-inspired hotel - opened in 2005 after a -million investment - across from the Ferry Building and food market and close to the Embarcadero's shops. There are 199 rooms, with free Wi-Fi access, limestone showers and custom-designed, glass-topped tables filled with illuminated river stones. The 125-seat Americano restaurant (Italian-influenced Californian dishes) spills out onto a terrace with a groovy lounge-bar scene. There is free yoga for those so inclined and a Vitality Concierge to put you in touch with 'wellness' experts. £££
MANDARIN ORIENTAL SAN FRANCISCO
222 Sansome Street, San Francsico (00 1 415 276 9888; www.mandarinoriental.com/sanfrancisco). Located in the financial district, close to the Transamerica Pyramid, Bank of America tower and Market Street. There is an Asian-style welcome, with jasmine tea and cookies in the 158 rooms located on the top 11 floors of San Francisco's third highest office tower, with jaw-dropping views of Alcatraz and Coit Tower. Local ingredients are embraced at Silks, the hotel's acclaimed Pacific Rim-influenced restaurant. Bathrooms have oversized tubs and walls of windows for bay views. Though the Financial District can feel like a skyscraper ghost town on weekends. £££
601 Eddy Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 776 1380; www.jdvhotels.com/phoenix). A former 1950s caravan lodge, now transformed into an urban oasis. The elliptical pool has references to Warhol in the shallow end and Duchamp in the deep, while hanging poolside are the stars and rock 'n' rollers who favour this no-tell motel. £
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE HOTEL
450 Powell Street at Sutter, San Francisco (00 1 415 392 7755; www.sirfrancisdrake.com. Beefeater costume-clad doormen guard the entrance to this Prohibition-era gem in Union Square. In 2007, Kimpton Hotels gave the 416-room grande dame a much-needed -million facelift, updating rooms in a palette of deep purple, sage and cream, with button-back headboards, granite baths and Wi-Fi access. The large lobby showcases heavy chandeliers dripping with crystal, lots of Italian marble and vaulted, gold-leaf ceilings. Scala's Bistro is a lively, always-crowded restaurant that serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Harry Denton's Starlight Room, a bar on the 21st floor, is a San Francisco institution, with velvet banquettes, a classy cocktail menu and sparkling views of the city. ££
ST REGIS SAN FRANCISCO
- Ibiza, Spain
125 3rd Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 284 4000; www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis). Situated in a 40-floor tower next to the Museum of Modern Art and across from the bustling Yerba Buena cultural complex, the St Regis reflects its location in a fine collection of modern art throughout the hotel. The spacious rooms, in shades of taupe with luxurious finishes such as leather and snakeskin, have great views. Celebrity chefs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani rule in signature restaurant Ame; less formal fare can be found in Vitrine, which has an open-air terrace. The Remède spa has nine treatment rooms and a 50ft pool in the fitness centre. ££££
W SAN FRANCISCO
181 3rd Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 777 5300; www.whotels.com). This 30-storey, 404-room hotel offers impeccable style and an unbeatable location adjacent to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and directly across from the Moscone Center. Service is black-clad and obliging: The company motto is 'whatever/whenever'. £££
With over 3,000 eating and drinking establishments, more per capita than anywhere in the world, it is no wonder San Francisco is renowned for its food.
2355 Chestnut Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 771 2216; www.a16sf.com). The original A16 is the autostrada that leads east out of Naples and into Puglia in the foot of southern Italy; the area it covers has inspired this restaurant's menu and wine list. Appetisers incorporate locally caught fish, salad leaves, herbs and fruit into Italian dishes while two wood-fired ovens produce wafer-thin pizzas and main courses such as yellowtail tuna with almonds and capers, lamb sausages with porchetta, and lamb with fennel and radishes.
ANCHOR & HOPE
83 Minna Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 501 9100; www.anchorandhopesf.com). Anchor & Hope, opened in 2008, is where the hip set dine on bacon-wrapped oysters and basil-stuffed clams in a minimalist white space with exposed beams and concrete floors, inside a converted garage. A three-course dinner for two - without wine - costs about 0 (in 2009 - prices may change).
Building A, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard, San Francisco (00 1 415 771 6222; www.greensrestaurant.com). A wonderful vegetarian restaurant with a beautiful view across the water to the Golden Gate Bridge.
JEANTY AT JACK'S
615 Sacramento Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 421 7355; www.jeantyatjacks.com). This famous 1864 French bistro-style restaurant was once popular with major-leaguers such as Ingrid Bergman and Ernest Hemingway.
2031 Chestnut Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 346 5641; www.laiola.com). A new Spanish restaurant in a laidback and fashionable neighbourhood. House specialties include a plate of pan con chocolate, a rich chocolate mousse topped with sea salt and olive oil.
2889 Mission Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 285 7117). La Taqueria serves authentic Mexican cuisine. No one heads here for the decor or to find comfortable surroundings: it's the great value, the hearty comida and the music which draw the crowds. Half a dozen strongly built Mexicans prepare the tacos, quesadillas, burritos (served without rice, the Mexican way) and all their different stuffings, as well as the fresh fruit drinks (the mango is delicious).
MEE MEE BAKERY
1328 Stockton Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 362 3204; www.meemeebakery.com). Rich and luscious egg tarts, crunchy almond cookies and buttery sesame biscuits are the specialities at this Chinatown pastry-maker's. The shop will arrange tours of its nearby factory, and will also create personalised fortune cookies. Open daily, 8am-6pm.
1701 Octavia Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 775 8500; www.quincerestaurant.com). Quince is set in an old wooden building constructed as an apothecary before it became a private house and, now, a restaurant run by Michael and Lindsay Tusk. Although Michael Tusk draws his primary inspiration from Italian cuisine, as do so many other California chefs, what is particularly impressive is the way in which he extracts so many good flavours from the less expensive cuts of meat and fish and how extensively Christie Dufault, Tusk's wine buyer, has visited California's many vineyards to track down some fascinating bottles from less well-known producers.
842 Valencia Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 282 8283; www.rangesf.com). Range is like many of the city's other restaurants, occupying a long, thin space where an open kitchen (manned invariably by Mexicans regardless of the cuisine) divides a busy bar at the front from a dining room at the rear. Red leather banquettes, zinc table tops, mirrors and a large flower display lend a touch of class to this husband-and-wife-owned eatery. Memorable dishes include a Pluot apricot salad with fromage blanc, hazelnuts and peppercress; a slow-roasted duck breast with morels, peas and a green peppercorn sauce; and a warm Meyer lemon pudding cake.
SAMOVAR TEA LOUNGE
Yerba Buena Gardens, Upper Terrace, 730 Howard Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 227 9400; www.samovartea.com). Behind a wisteria-covered patio above Yerba Buena Gardens, the Samovar Tea Lounge is a relaxing spot for a light lunch, or a tasting-session of inventively named teas such as Monkey Picked Ireon Goddess of Mercy.
SWAN OYSTER DEPOT
1517 Polk Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 673 1101). Swan Oyster Depot is only for lovers of oysters and fresh seafood. And for those with some patience, as Swan's has been so popular for so long that there is always a queue for one of the 16 seats at its broad marble counter.
240 California Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 391 1849). The Tadich Grill opened in 1849 and is the oldest restaurant in California. Its interior seems to have barely changed for decades and it has a classic bar with tenders who make terrific Bloody Marys. Tadich's has a catholic menu based principally around simple cuts of meat and fish from its grill.
THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY
Macy's (8th floor), Union Square, San Francisco (00 1 415 397 3333; www.thecheesecakefactory.com). A restaurant that specialises in cheesecakes. Also serves great main courses and has excellent views of Union Square.
THE SLANTED DOOR
1 Ferry Building, San Francisco (00 1 415 861 8032; www.slanteddoor.com). The Slanted Door serves classic Vietnamese food 'family style', which makes sharing easy even if an extremely long menu in black ink makes reading the menu and choosing equally difficult. The spring rolls with mint and peanut sauce and a green papaya salad with tofu and roasted peanuts are a highlight, as is the stunning view - across the water to the Bay Bridge and Oakland.
VIVANDE PORTA VIA
2125 Fillmore Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 346 4430; www.vivande.com). Sells nearly 40 different kinds of Italian olive oil, fresh handmade pasta and sausages, and a myriad of cooking books. Styled like a Milanese kitchen, it also offers tasty lunchboxes to take away, containing items such as goat cheese and roasted garlic torte. There is also a full sit-down lunch and dinner menu. Open daily: take out, 10am-7pm; restaurant, 11.30am-10pm.
1658 Market Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 552 2522; www.zunicafe.com). As Zuni is open from 11.30am right through until midnight almost every day of the week, there is never a sense of having to rush. The wood-burning oven produces the café's signature roast chicken for two and the thinnest of pizzas. Bright sunshine under blue skies is one of California's natural attractions and here the high windows on both sides allow light to pour in and energise everyone inside. Chef Judy Rodgers' culinary approach has been to combine the best produce with the best of the simple, family-orientated dishes she learnt when travelling around Europe.
The best nightlife in San Francisco
CALIFORNIA WINE MERCHANT
2113 Chestnut Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 567 0646; www.pressclubsf.com). Part urban winery, part subterranean drinking den, eight Californian vineyards have tasting areas in Press Club.
46 Minna Street (00 1 415 777 1077; www.harlotsf.com).
Dramatic Renaissance-style paintings line the black walls at Harlot, a glamorous bar and club where stylish locals dance beneath chandeliers made from deer antlers. Open Wed-Sat, 9pm-2am.
What to see in San Francisco
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
111 MINNA GALLERY
111 Minna Street, San Francisco (00 415 974 1719; www.111minnagallery.com). A funky hidden gallery gem that showcases local and international artists. 111 Minna Gallery also screens films, and host live DJ sets.
The city has many amazing sights to offer the visitor, including Alcatraz Island. Accessible by boat from Pier 41, this former prison, which housed the likes of Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly, is the city's single biggest attraction. By tickets through Alcatraz Cruises: www.alcatrazcruises.com).
CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM
736 Mission Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 655 7800; www.thecjm.org). You can't miss this new museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind: a reworked brick building with a striking, blue-black 'diamond' extension. Exhibitions explore contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas.
SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
151 3rd Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 357 4000; www.sfmoma.org). With its dramatic architecture and excellent collections of art, photography and music, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in the Yerba Buena Gardens, also draws huge crowds. Open Thu-Tue.
YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS
701 Mission Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 978 2700; www.ybca.org). Yerba Buena Center, in San Francisco's cultural heart, showcases contemporary and emerging artists from the Bay area and beyond, and crosses the line between fine art and popular culture. The YBCA also hosts live performances. Open Tue-Sun.
DON'T MISS: the free montly 'art walk by the Yerba Buena Alliance (www.yerbabuena.org).
Things to do in San Francisco
With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Bay on the other, San Francisco is enclosed (like Manhattan) within a relatively small area, making it a great place to explore on foot. Explore include Lombard Street, the city's most crooked with nine hairpin bends, and Union Square. As well as being a landmark in its own right, the Golden Gate Bridge offers great views, too, while Alamo Square is another great vantage point.
Where to shop in San Francisco
Frank Lloyd Wright Building, 140 Maiden Lane, San Francisco (00 1 415 392 9999; www.xanadugallery.us). Pieces range from 4,000-year-old Chinese pottery to contemporary Mexican creations. The prices may be high at this repository of predominantly African and Asian art, jewellery, masks, textiles and artefacts, but so is the style quotient. A collection of books on Wright is also for sale. Open Mon-Sat.
261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco (00 1 415 362 8193; www.citylights.com). Made famous in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City as the place Mrs Madrigal supposedly kept shop before she made the change, City Lights remains San Francisco's pre-eminent bookshop. With everything from bestsellers to Beat literature via Dadaism and Surrealism, the shop also hosts regular poetry readings. Definitely a San Francisco experience. Open daily, 10am-midnight.
361 Sutter Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 837 1442; www.babettesf.com). This European-inspired local design house in the middle of hip South Park stocks its own range of travel-friendly coats, trousers and tops for women. The pleated pieces are made, as company head (and husband of the eponymous designer) Steven Pinsky says, 'for real women at real prices'.
845 Market Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 856 5300; www.bloomingdales.com). The most fashionable department store. Travellers can take their passport to the Visitor Center for a 15 per cent discount.
2 South Park, San Francisco (00 1 415 882 4929; www.jeremys.com). This warehouse-like department store on the edge of tech-trendy South Park is essentially a glorified designer discount shop, with men's and womenswear, plus accessories and fragrances from the likes of Voyage, Chanel, and Santa Maria Novella. Stock changes every six weeks or so, and discounts of 20-40 per cent are typical.
2351 Market Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 431 4545; www.rolo.com). This branch of the popular three-shop chain (also at 450 Castro Street and 1301 Howard Street) has separate men's and women's departments. The fashions are uniformly hip and happening and Rolo's regular rave and club events offer instant destinations for those all dressed up with nowhere to go.
375 Sutter Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 986 4380; www.wilkesbashford.com). Wilkes Bashford offers everything the well-dressed globetrotter could hope for. Labels include Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang and Issey Miyake, plus many of San Francisco's cutting-edge fashion names. Each of its five floors comes with a well-stocked bar. Open Mon-Sat, with late shopping on Thursdays.
3560 18th Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 565 0360; www.farinafoods.com). Farina prepares what many believe
is the city's finest pesto.
600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 487 2600; www.tartinebakery.com). The Tartine Bakery sells some delicious coffee, sandwiches, cakes and great bread.
HOME AND INTERIORS
271 9th Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 861 6665; www.evolutionfurniture.com). This SoMa (South of Market Street) furniture-seller is like IKEA for those with a bigger budget. The solid cherry, maple and walnut pieces come in uniquely updated versions of Shaker and Amish styles. Also features modern, modular designs from Quebec's Cameleon, along with recovered metallic military furniture from Douglas M Metal. Open daily.
1315 Howard Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 255 1311). Remember Elaine from Seinfeld and all her funky-yet-fashionable furniture? You can get some of it here. Colourful, fanciful beds, paper and metal lamps, swivel chairs and wall canvases are mostly from India, Indonesia and the Philippines and are reasonably priced for those of us who don't have the resources of a Hollywood production team.
2185 Fillmore Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 931 2224). With 10,000sq ft and more than 4,000 different items, Fillamento is the place to go for serious home furnishers. It is located in the smart Pacific Heights area, so the prices are not cheap, but with a high-end range of lighting, furniture, bedlinen and accessories, few would expect it to be so. Claims one of its bestsellers is the private-label bamboo candle.
151 3rd Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 357 4000; www.sfmoma.org). The SFMOMA store is a treasure trove of posters, stationery, furniture and homewares. International shipping is available.
2453 Fillmore Street, San Francisco (00 1 415 441 3051). Finding international newspapers and magazines can be challenging in San Francisco, but media fans of all nationalities will be well served at Juicy News, where most of the European publications are only a day or two late.
How to get to San Francisco
San Francisco airport is 20km south of the city. SFO airport buses run every 15 minutes to downtown San Francisco.
AIRLINES FROM THE UK
British Airways (0844 493 0787; www.britishairways.com) and Virgin Atlantic (08705 747747; www.virgin-atlantic.com) both fly from Heathrow to San Francisco. Air France (0871 663 3777; www.airfrance.co.uk) flies from Manchester, via Paris.