Savouring some slow time in San Francisco
My yellow taxicab had only just pulled up to the sidewalk, not far from the clattering cable-cars, mime artists and department stores of San Francisco’s Union Square, when a porter swept my bags through the oversized wooden front doors of the hotel. I craned my neck back, to snatch a look at its intricate Spanish Colonial façade, and followed him in.
This hotel, in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, is just a couple of blocks to the west of Union Square, the centre of Downtown. Five minutes’ walk in any direction will bring you into one of the city’s many colourful neighbourhoods, each so different from the others. Chinatown, the Financial District, Nob Hill, Soma, and the Moscone Convention Centre are all easily explored on foot from here, while the central hub of the trams, trolleybuses, buses, and cable-cars is two minutes to the south.
The 16-storey building was completed in 1929, first as the El Cortez and then as Shannon Court, but today – after an $11 million refurbishment – as Hotel Adagio.
As the doors closed behind me, the street noise cut out and the slower pace that its name suggests was overwhelming. The lobby was clean, fresh, and bright. Comfortable upholstered seats surrounded chessboards, vivid canvases hung on the walls, large lampshades dangled above, and a scented candle flickered in the corner. An award-winning Mediterranean-style restaurant, Cortez, lay just beyond the hotel’s reception, offering a delicious mix of the fine and the funky.
I was staying on the fifteenth floor, and as luck would have it, had been granted a corner suite, with views up towards Nob Hill. Decorated in deep tans, browns and ochre, the rooms cocoon guests in a world of comfort, and the use of natural materials continues in the bathroom where I found a selection of excellent Aveda bath products. Black and white prints of ash trees, in panoramic frames, decorated the bedroom walls, and a massive kingsize bed made it clear that this was a place for relaxation. A television facing the bed was subtly housed inside a pivoting wooden box, ensuring that it didn’t interfere with the soothing natural colours and textures of the room: but movies on demand and Nintendo games were still just a button-press away. A small plug in the bottom of the desk’s table lamp allowed me to plug in a laptop for free access to the internet: those without a computer can surf using the hotel’s PCs downstairs. A soft two-seater sofa and and a couple of armchairs gave ample space to rest in the day.
Returning after a show, I found my bed turned down and a chocolate on the pillow, a simple and classic touch that summed up the hotel’s merits – an oasis of calm in the heart of downtown, with courteous and helpful staff.