San Francisco Advice Needed

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Old Jun 15, 19, 10:21 am
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San Francisco Advice Needed

Headed to San Francisco with the family and in-laws on our way back from KOA next April. I am traveling with myself and my wife, two boys (then 13 &15) and my in laws (late 70's, but healthy). We land at SFO around 11pm and will depart SFO for ORD on Sunday morning. I will need two rooms for two nights...will use points, and I'm an aspire member (currently, but may drop to platinum next year). Despite my status (earned mostly through big bonus promos), I'm not that familiar with benefits, etc. that come with status.
I'm wondering what you all suggest would be the best hotel for us. Looking to introduce my kids and in-laws to the city and do the "touristy" things like alcatraz, ride cable cars, wharf, etc. Would be nice to have some space and a free breakfast for the kids, but location is probably more important. Right now considering the Intercontinental Hopkins or the sir frances drake...but certainly open to options.

Advice is GREATLY appreciated!
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Old Jun 15, 19, 10:49 am
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Location-wise either Kimpton Sir Francis Drake or HIE Union Square would be best. If you have the points, IC Mark Hopkins would be great as well.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 7:32 am
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The Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf is dated but prime walking distance to Pier 39, ghiradelli, cable car turnabout, Alcatraz boat dock, etc.





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Old Jun 16, 19, 7:36 am
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Sir Francis Drake is a block or two up the hill from Union Square and has a trolley car line right in front of the hotel. When I was last in SF, they still had a doorman in costume. It's a fun but somewhat quirky historic hotel and could be a lot of fun.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 11:03 am
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Originally Posted by Paulchili View Post
Location-wise either Kimpton Sir Francis Drake or HIE Union Square would be best. If you have the points, IC Mark Hopkins would be great as well.
Mark Hopkins requires steep hill walking for almost anywhere you want to go on foot. It is quite central, but unless you want a cable car or car service each time, I don't recommend the location. 6 of you mean 2 cars, or 6 cable car fares.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
Mark Hopkins requires steep hill walking for almost anywhere you want to go on foot. It is quite central, but unless you want a cable car or car service each time, I don't recommend the location. 6 of you mean 2 cars, or 6 cable car fares.
That's great to know! While my father in law is healthy, walking hills consistently at his age isn't a great idea!
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:17 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Sir Francis Drake is a block or two up the hill from Union Square and has a trolley car line right in front of the hotel. When I was last in SF, they still had a doorman in costume. It's a fun but somewhat quirky historic hotel and could be a lot of fun.
Thanks! Any idea about room size? Typically these have VERY small rooms. I'm OK with a small room, just not a cracker box!
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Old Jun 16, 19, 10:51 pm
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Originally Posted by bsdstone View Post
Thanks! Any idea about room size? Typically these have VERY small rooms. I'm OK with a small room, just not a cracker box!
Small. It’s a historic hotel so although renovated, rooms are still small. Location is nice for Union Square though.

I’d recommend the HIX Fisherman’s Wharf. Bigger rooms, free breakfast, walking distance to many attractions in the area and well served by transit. I know many say don’t stay in Fisherman’s Wharf and that it’s only for tourists, but hey I was a tourist.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 11:01 pm
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I stayed in a corner room (presumably upgrade but I'm not sure what the room category was) connecting to a fairly standard room many years ago. The corner room was very pleasant and I don't remember the other room being especially small but YMMV. Does the hotel's website give square footage ranges of various room categories?
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Old Jun 17, 19, 4:11 pm
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I would recommend the Sir Francis Drake, especially since you’re doing a touristy trip. The hotel is steeped in SF history and definitely “feels” very SF. A cable car line passes right by the front entrance.

The standard room is small, but nothing too unusual. Think standard for NYC hotels. The “Grand” category is a large room and many of the Grand 2 Queens are very big.

Status recognition is average, but an upgrade to a grand room for Spire should be possible.
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Old Jun 18, 19, 3:31 am
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Fisherman's Wharf is probably the best choice for first timers. You're smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest tourist areas with plenty to do around town. I was just in a "historic" hotel in Union Bay, and let me tell you... Historic is just another word for "old". Unless you're really into that kind of thing, there's really no benefit to going "historic". The homeless situation around Union Square has also gotten way out of control, although Fisherman's Wharf is only marginally better. Union Square is great, but it's really a shopping and commercial district while FW is a tourism district.

Lastly, two rooms for 6 people... With larger rooms and free breakfast...
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Old Jun 20, 19, 12:53 am
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Originally Posted by bsdstone View Post
Headed to San Francisco with the family and in-laws on our way back from KOA next April. I am traveling with myself and my wife, two boys (then 13 &15) and my in laws (late 70's, but healthy). We land at SFO around 11pm and will depart SFO for ORD on Sunday morning. I will need two rooms for two nights...will use points, and I'm an aspire member (currently, but may drop to platinum next year). Despite my status (earned mostly through big bonus promos), I'm not that familiar with benefits, etc. that come with status.
I'm wondering what you all suggest would be the best hotel for us. Looking to introduce my kids and in-laws to the city and do the "touristy" things like alcatraz, ride cable cars, wharf, etc. Would be nice to have some space and a free breakfast for the kids, but location is probably more important. Right now considering the Intercontinental Hopkins or the sir frances drake...but certainly open to options.

Advice is GREATLY appreciated!
I'm surprised that no one has recommended the IC SF, which is an easy walk to Market Street for shopping and the Powell St BART station, or Union Sq without the hassle of being located in Union Sq. Keep in mind the Powell St cable car (that runs by the Drake) is always a hassle with lines on the weekends, seldom stops at the Union Sq stops as it's usually full, besides being expensive. The Drake has tiny rooms but is lower priced. If you're Spire, buy AMB in December and your Spire will extend for the next year and if you're staying at the IC SF (never bother with the IC Mark Hopkins as it's difficult to get around, especially for your in-laws at 70+,) you could use the BOGO for one room and points for the other. Maybe a little UPG as well, as they've always been good with AMB's and of course RA's. Breakfast is pricy unless you reserve a Club room, but their club is one of the better around.

Uber and Lyft are easy to get in SF, but with 6 people, maybe try public transportation, which is everywhere and reasonable. Check out a weekend pass for convenience and savings. One other hotel choice I've used and liked was the HI Golden Gate on Van Ness near the California St cable car and Polk St where there are some decent inexpensive restaurants within walking distance. Clearly not as picturesque, but the California St cable car is easy to get on, and runs to the Embarcadero and the Ferry Building, as well as Alcatraz ferries. Fewer points also, and I've gotten some nice UPG's as Spire, though mostly view oriented. Not as nice a view as the IC SF, but then it's all in the location. And you can take the public bus to Ghilladelli Sq, which is near the wharf.
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Old Jun 20, 19, 8:18 am
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I too really like the HI Golden Gate. Received a (king) room with a gorgeous view of both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, floor to ceiling windows. Location feels a little less crowded and frantic compared to other properties mentioned. Restaurant prices considering 6 people/kids will be more reasonable than an IC. Someone earlier suggested HIE Union Square--scratch that off your list. Smallest room I have ever stayed in anywhere, tiny window with inner view of buildings.
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Old Jun 25, 19, 11:25 am
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Originally Posted by bsdstone View Post
That's great to know! While my father in law is healthy, walking hills consistently at his age isn't a great idea!
As a counter...the "steep" hills are a few blocks depending on where your at. Many local seniors walk these hills everyday. You'll likely be walking up the hills if you're coming back from downtown/Union Square or Chinatown. From Alcatraz, the wharf, embacadero, GGB and other locations, you'll likely be returning via cable car or car service. I wouldn't cross the IC MH off your list because of the hills.
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Old Jun 25, 19, 6:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Troopers View Post
As a counter...the "steep" hills are a few blocks depending on where your at. Many local seniors walk these hills everyday. You'll likely be walking up the hills if you're coming back from downtown/Union Square or Chinatown. From Alcatraz, the wharf, embacadero, GGB and other locations, you'll likely be returning via cable car or car service. I wouldn't cross the IC MH off your list because of the hills.
The steep hills are just one negative. The rooms are small and many unusually shaped or laid out. The one I had on my last visit (which I swore was going to be my last visit,) was a little dated especially the worn out furniture. And remember to try the Top of the Mark for one of their $40 martinis (on a clear day, otherwise it's $30.). Ouch. And the front entrance can be quite the traffic jam going or coming.
6 people on the cable car at $7 each (OK seniors are only $3,) adds up quickly if you're using that as the primary means of getting around. And no "transfers" are allowed, so no hopping on and off, or transfer to the Powell street cable cars from the California St line without another $7 fare. I lived in the Gulch on Jones St a few blocks away, and only having a 10 speed and a Muni Pass (I could ride the cable car on that as I was like a half a block away from the Powell-Hyde line,) so even in my twenties I struggled with some of those hills.
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