This weekend I found myself, spontaneously, at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton. We had talked of the Carneros Inn, but since we left reservations to the last minute, they were full up. I was quite disappointed, and Significant Other determined to mitigate my distress.
So we stayed at the Ritz for a couple of nights, where I’d never been.
I recovered immediately. Champagne served on arrival will do that. Never underestimate the impact of a silver tray.
To say nothing of spectacular lobby flowers.
Let’s be honest. The San Francisco Ritz is not one of those hotels that photographs well. There isn’t much light inside. But what the Ritz lacks in Bay views and visible sky, it makes up for with indoor creature comforts and phenomenal service. On a foggy San Francisco summer weekend, those count.
Our suite was up under the eaves. No window at all in the bedroom. Very conducive to sleep, as were the linens and boisterous pillow throng. I was tempted to tame them with with a chair and whip.
The Ritz clearly endorses the Global Bathroom Marbleing Project. And who doesn’t appreciate a crystal ring holder?
But the real point of the Ritz is the way they take care of you. Especially if you spring for the Club Floor. Food laid out for the taking, day and night. Two concierges at the entry, with all mod cons, i..e. have Internet, Will Find You Stuff. Terribly friendly in aspect, the staff at the Ritz make you feel that they like their jobs, and are glad to see you happy.
Which makes it all that much easier to be so.
The Club Floor lounge is understated and comfortable. Upholstered chairs, glass tables, strategic orchids. And glass jars of candy scattered across the end tables. Those brightly colored balls to the left are foil-wrapped Caribbean chocolates. Did you think of the Caribbean as a chocolate locale? Me neither. I am happy to play my part in the fight against ignorance.
The food gets even better at the hotel restaurant, Parallel 37. Chef Ron Siegel ran the Dining Room for years, one of the most acclaimed formal eating halls in San Francisco. One day I suppose he got tired of tablecloths. This is the result.
The art on the wall is a backlit photo montage of old California oaks in the East Bay. Had me quite nostalgic with teenage memories of illicit activities under similar trees. We ate pork cooked sous-vide, roast salmon, soft-shell crabs and lemon semifreddo. We drank a mineral-y Chardonnay, something I hadn’t know existed. Fighting ignorance all the way.
By the way, the pork, if you’re a meat-eater, was memorable – especially in that it wasn’t highly spiced and so relied on texture and the straight up taste of pork for impact.
If the San Francisco St. Regis brings to mind your stylish uncle’s city apartments, the Ritz has to be your best-loved great-aunt’s house. The aunt who invited you for weekends, served sherry, and let you sleep late. Oh, except the food’s a little better, and no Norwich Terriers bark as you drive up.
The club floor is not cheap. However, if you go for a staycation, and plan to eat in, and like a glass of wine or two, it’s a great deal.
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