- Hyatt Regency San Francisco
- Singapore Airlines First Class SFO-SIN (SQ 15) – Part 1
- Singapore Airlines First Class SFO-SIN (SQ 15) – Part 2
- Grand Hyatt Singapore
- Historical Sights, Ethnic Neighborhoods, and Raffles Hotel
- Modern Singapore at Marina Bay and Orchard Road
- Birthday at the Night Safari
- Where to Eat in Singapore
- Singapore First Class Departure and The Private Room
- Singapore Airlines First Class SIN-HKG (SQ 866)
- Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
- Central District Parks and Victoria Peak
- Exploring the Markets of Kowloon and Mong Kok
- Day Trip to Stanley Harbor
- Where to Eat in Hong Kong
- Singapore Airlines Business Class HKG-SFO (SQ 2)
- Concluding Remarks
This trip did not get off to a good start. I spent all day cleaning the apartment (who wants to come back to a dirty home that’s been fermenting for a week?) and working on yet another “final” draft of one of my research papers. Megan called at some point to ask when I was going to pick her up, but all I said was, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll be there.” Soon it was 4 PM and our flight left at 6:15.
I headed downtown to pick her up in rush hour traffic. After 30 minutes, she was in the car, and I saw the express lanes were open. What a great surprise! For those of you not familiar with Seattle, express lanes have limited exit and entry points and only operate in one direction, changing directions during the day depending on traffic load. Long story short, the express lanes were going the wrong direction, I failed to realize this, and by the time I noticed I was back where I started, with the same 30 minutes of traffic ahead of me and the clock ticking.
Rather than risk a bigger jam than before, I took my favorite back route, arrived at the parking garage less than an hour before departure, and we were the last people on the plane before the door closed. At least we were in first class.
(My dad was not so lucky. A day later he headed to the airport for a trip to Hawaii and apparently did NOT learn from my experience on how to strategize when you’re late to the airport. I woke up my first day in Singapore to a panicked email, and he later ended up booking a new flight via Seattle.)
Anyway, when we arrived at SFO we grabbed a taxi to the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. I’ve always wanted to stay at this hotel since I was little. Embarcadero Center reminds me of Rockefeller Center in some ways. The architecture, particularly the atrium, is pretty interesting, and ever since the Ferry Terminal across the street was renovated the area has become much more active.
Arriving at the HR San Francisco, we found that we still had to take the escalators two floors up to reach the lobby. I can understand sky lobbies for hotels located on the upper floors of a tower, but this just seemed inconvenient. There was no one to greet us on the ground floor except the doorman, who pointed us to a small atrium where the escalator sat. The elevator was around the corner, out of sight.
Once in the lobby, the first thing I noticed was the noise. I knew it was a noisy atrium, but it still surprises me every time I visit. Fortunately we were helped almost immediately by an agent at the front desk. We were given a standard club room on the 18th floor, two down from the Regency Club on the 20th floor (forgive me if these numbers are slightly off). Unfortunately the club had just closed so we missed our chance at drinks and dessert. We opted for a wine and cheese plate for our Diamond amenity and planned to also order room service for dinner.
The elevators at this hotel are really cool. They’re glass elevators, but indoors, and they have brass flares and lights that make them look like something out of Willy Wonka. [My photos of the public areas were taken with my other camera and I can't find them right now; check back tomorrow.]
We had some issues using our key cards that I didn’t really figure out until we left. The elevators on either end are dedicated to the Regency Club, so our keys never worked when we tried using them to get to our room since the club had closed. They will work to reach other floors, but only during the hours the club is open. I didn’t realize until later that the four elevators in the middle have a separate call button. So keep this in mind, because I was really puzzled why our keys never worked in the elevators yet we had no issues with our room lock.
As I said, we had a standard club room on the first of two club floors at the top of the atrium. This makes for a nice view of the lobby and also helps dampen the sound a bit because the floors taper in as you ascend. It also means these top two floors get the most natural light in the morning. The only problem is that the support columns interrupt the hallway, so you’re always walking around them.
Despite being a “standard” room, I was very pleased with its design and furnishings. There was an entry table for Megan to put her purse when we walked in, along with a standing dresser next to the closet. In the bathroom I found a television inside the mirror, which is about the only way you’ll get me to turn on a television while traveling. So cool.
The rest of the bathroom was reasonably spacious and comfortable, but fairly plain. I guess the glass shower is a nice touch over a shower curtain. Water pressure was nice, and even with the door on the far side it wasn’t hard to turn on the water while staying dry. Typical White Ginger amenities were in the shower and by the sink, which I like but everyone else hates. My only beef is that I sort of like it when they’re all lined up by the sink. A single bar of soap looks lonely.
The bed was large, comfortable, and faced the window as I usually prefer. Outside the window was a Juliet balcony with a great view of Market Street and the Bay Bridge. If you stuck your head out a bit (there was no screen), you could see the Ferry Building, too. It was fairly quiet with the exception of a street musician who kept alternating between “Over the Rainbow” and “The Godfather,” playing both without much skill. I later learned that Occupy SF had been camping out in front of the Federal Reserve across the street, but they never bothered us. The city makes them pack up and hoses down the street every morning, and apparently they plan to move to a new location soon.
Although the room had a nice sofa and chair, the desk was so large as to be awkward, and the side table was almost impossible to move to a more comfortable position. This was one of the worst rooms in which I’ve had the displeasure to order room service as there was no place to put our meal where we could also sit and eat it together. Even if I were alone, I’d feel like I was eating at my desk during lunch.
Food and Beverage
The wine was the standard Canvas Merlot, which I like. It came with Cowgirl Creamery bleu cheese, which I don’t care for, so Megan got to indulge. Our food arrived a little later. My burger and garlic fries and Megan’s fish tacos were, like the wine, the good quality I’ve come to expect from Hyatt. However, I don’t think they’re worth going out of your way to stay at this property.
My sister came over from Berkeley to join us for drinks in the lobby downstairs, and those drinks were far more impressive. For roughly $10, which is a good price at a hotel bar, we got some very large cocktails. Each was enough to put us out for the night. The lounge area was comfortable, with several small collections of sofas and chairs for those who didn’t want to sit at a table.
The next morning, we headed to the Regency Club for breakfast. This is located in what was formerly a rotating restaurant, but now it is neither a restaurant nor does it rotate. I have to admit this was my first time ever visiting a Regency Club. I’ve been surprisingly lucky to choose Hyatt properties that either lack clubs or have them closed on the weekends, so I’ve always gotten a full breakfast in the restaurant instead.
The food and drink were okay. I’d say they were what I wish an airport club would offer, which is meant as a compliment to Hyatt. It was more than enough to satisfy us with a range of pastries, cereals, meats, and fresh fruit–but not at all comparable to what we enjoyed during our stays at two Grand Hyatts later in the trip. My only real complaint is that there were relatively few seats with good views, and they were all taken. So I walked around a bit and also saw that some of the back window space was dedicated to a couple of massage chairs and a small work station with printers. I guess the location beats the basement closet you get at most hotels.
Views were great if you were willing to stand up to go look. It was a very sunny and surprisingly warm day. In fact, our room, with that great view I mentioned earlier, became uncomfortably warm during the day. However, it also had thermostat with physical switches. When I flipped it, the air conditioning was instant, and when I flipped it again, it turned off. In these days with automated everything, I often find the digital thermostats don’t give me the same immediate satisfaction.
I did check out the gym. I haven’t been exercising at all for months, and although I should have during this trip with all the food, I wasn’t about to cart my smelly clothes with me for a week. This one was well-equipped but not especially interesting in the aesthetics department, and I thought it seemed awkward to put it on the lobby floor. That just means more people to run into on your elevator ride back to the room. They also didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to put in some windows.
It’s clear this is an older hotel. A lot of things have been adjusted from their original design, or just new demands from a modern clientele. The demand for rotating restaurants just isn’t there anymore, and the creative architecture seemed to balance its aesthetic benefits with annoyances like the noise, elevators, and obstructed hallways. The sliding door to our Juliet balcony was meant to open on both sides, and it seems new building codes forced them to keep one side shut.
But the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero is still a hotel I would return to. It has an amazing location, and the service was genuinely friendly. The next morning it was very convenient to walk across the street to explore the farmers market, and then we were able to walk one block to catch BART all the way to San Francisco Airport. Most of the inconveniences I experienced are not things the hotel has much control over today. Hopefully they reconsider the furnishings and find a way to create a real table and chair setting for in-room dining. Until then, I suggest just heading down to the restaurant in the lobby, where the menu and prices are pretty much the same.