Review: The New Grand Hyatt San Francisco

The renovation isn’t quite so new anymore, but it still felt fresh when I visited the Grand Hyatt San Francisco in February. Megan and I were in town to register for our wedding, so it was the perfect location adjacent to Union Square. Overall I was impressed with the contemporary look.

The Grand Hyatt’s lobby is relatively small since the building is far taller than it is wide, but there was still space for a generous sitting area with fireplaces and leather armchairs. In the morning I found a coffee station near the west exist toward Union Square, and there was a bar and lounge up one floor on the mezzanine. It had some interesting and pricey bottles in the display cases, but we didn’t actually stop for a drink during our stay.

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I had a couple business meetings that morning and dropped off the luggage at the front desk, where they kindly offered me a key to the Grand Club and let me know they would call when our room was ready. That didn’t happen until about 4 PM, right around the standard check-in time. But no matter — I still had plenty of work to get done. The Grand Club has sweeping views to the north (and less so to the east) and was relatively quiet on a Friday afternoon. When we made it to the room, we found a bowl of fruit and some local spring water waiting for us as an apology for the delay.

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There were ample self-serve beverages, including several varieties of juice and soda we could take to-go, but the food selection was more limited. Especially at breakfast, it felt like there were so many people and so few items that things got picked over quickly. I’m definitely a hot food guy, so it was disappointing that the buffet slanted more toward continental style. I would have preferred the generous portions of eggs and sausage at the Grand Hyatt Seattle. Fortunately there were enough appetizers around dinner, and the service was good: staff were careful not to let my drink sit empty in the evening.

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I redeemed a suite upgrade for our two-night stay, which probably explains why it took longer than usual for a room to become available. Hyatt makes it easy for Diamond members to upgrade to a suite, but combine that with the 4 PM check-out promised to those same guests and you can see the potential conflict. Our room was only half-way up and didn’t have a particularly impressive view, but I forgave that (as I have in the past) because the Grand Club made up for it.

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Our suite was clearly a combination of two standard rooms, each with a separate bathroom. And this was the only thing that got to me, so I’ll start there. The bathrooms were basically mirror images of each other. There must have been some structural issue with knocking down a wall and combining them because I don’t see why the one in the living room needs its own shower. I would have preferred to see a small washroom and toilet in the living room and a larger master bathroom with a separate tub and shower.

That said, the hardware and decor in both bathrooms were nice, with a glass-enclosed shower instead of a tub/shower combo. There was a closet, full length mirror, and a small ledge before you reached the bathroom. Amenities were provided by June Jacobs, the new standard for Grand Hyatt properties.

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I liked the living room and bedroom much more. The living room had a comfortable sofa, a large desk, and some decent reading material. I liked the hardwood floors and rug. But I have my preferences, and in my opinion a desk should never face away from the window because you lose the view and it creates glare on a computer. So I had to drag the chair around to the other side.

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The bedroom was also comfortable. There were warm colors, clean lines, and enough padding without resorting to an excess of pillows. A chaise by the window and Keurig machine were nice touches, and there were ample lights for reading in bed. All of the lights and window curtains were controlled by digital wall switches that were clearly labeled.

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This hotel and the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf were the first I’d seen with Hyatt’s new television-based Internet and entertainment system that was discussed during their presentation at Star MegaDO 4. I never turned on the TV at Fisherman’s Wharf, but I did play around with it a bit here.

I didn’t actually use the entertainment system very much because there was an added cost to access the Internet via the television, even for Diamond and Platinum guests who already receive free Internet access. All I can say from my brief interaction is that the technology seemed to work well with the associated keyboard, which really helps when entering text.

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Finally, the gym. There is no pool here like at Fisherman’s Wharf, but that’s not surprising with its narrow footprint. Instead there is a StayFit workout facility on the top floor. It’s an awkward space, with mirrors and equipment in the hallway just outside the elevator, but it’s worth it to have those views of the city when running on a treadmill. I’ve seen similar top-floor arrangements at the Hyatt Regency Toronto and the Grand Hyatt New York.

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Having now stayed at and reviewed all three San Francisco Hyatt properties, I think on future trips I may stay at the Hyatt Regency Embarcardero if only because I’m a foodie and like being across from the market at the Ferry Terminal. It’s also closer to BART and the new Exploratorium. I’m probably one of the few travelers who looks up science museums in every city. :) But the Grand Hyatt is still an excellent property, and I was impressed with the renovations. There’s plenty to do nearby for most people who aren’t quite so obsessed with arc lamps and croissants.

Scott created Travel Codex after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
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  • Jeremy

    I stayed at the HR in 2010 and think it was just an ok hotel and definitely needed to be renovated. The location was ok but very quiet especially at night vein in the financial district. It was easy to get places though either a quick hop on the BART or walking but surprised you don’t think the GH has a better location.

    • Scottrick

      Like I said, the Grand Hyatt is not close to what I want to visit. The Hyatt Regency is. I agree the latter needs an refresh.

  • jknc09

    Stayed in May 2012 and having a high floor, the room view was great. The room was new/modern but the way they created the suites was not so impressive. The hotel is large, kind of hard to expect too much more. Its pretty close to chinatown for some Dim Sum treats. Thanks for your take Scott.

  • Dan Ray

    Are you didn’t mean Hyatt 8? I’ve never seen a generous portion of eggs and sausage at grand Hyatt in Seattle.

    • Scottrick

      The Olive8 doesn’t have a buffet or club. I may have stayed at the GH Seattle on a quiet day, since there were not many people competing for the breakfast items that morning. There was quite the zoo at the GH San Francisco.

  • marbles

    Would you mind sharing your airport transfer strategy from SFO?

    • Scottrick

      BART goes directly to the Hyatt Regency. From there you can take the Embarcadero trolley to Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf or get off a stop earlier and walk to Union Square for the Grand Hyatt. Taxis cost about $45-60 each way if you’d rather avoid public transit.

  • FriendlySkies

    Glad to see what the new lobby looks like. (It was still under construction when I last visited)

    • Scottrick

      I think it’s really one of the better one’s I’ve seen. I was tempted to work there instead of the club, but it was hard to pass up the views.