FEATURES : TRAVEL

Journal: Clift San Francisco

By Michael Muller

Published October 4, 2011

Frontside view of the Clift from Geary Street

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Frontside view of the Clift from Geary Street

The Clift's entrance

Photo: Michael A. Muller

The Clift's entrance

Lobby and concierge

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Lobby and concierge

Object in front is larger than it appears. A giant chair in the lobby.

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Object in front is larger than it appears. A giant chair in the lobby.

The lobby's wood-burning fire

Photo: Michael A. Muller

The lobby's wood-burning fire

One of the spacious suites at the Clift

Photo: Michael A. Muller

One of the spacious suites at the Clift

A quote from Blaise Pascal found on the bed.

Photo: Michael A. Muller

A quote from Blaise Pascal found on the bed.

Eastward view from the 16th floor.

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Eastward view from the 16th floor.

Dieter Rams at SF MoMA

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Dieter Rams at SF MoMA

L-450 flat speakers, TS-45 control unit and the TG-60 reel-to-reel tape recorder designed by Rams

Photo: Michael A. Muller

L-450 flat speakers, TS-45 control unit and the TG-60 reel-to-reel tape recorder designed by Rams

Braun Nizo cameras

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Braun Nizo cameras

Oakland Bay Bridge

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Oakland Bay Bridge

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On a recent trip to San Francisco, the Clift hotel was the central figure and home base on a quick three-day stay during the onset of autumn in the Bay Area.

Upon entering the Clift, it’s hard to ignore the hotel’s regality: golds, brass, and hues of orange and purple adorn the decadent building in all corners. Certain aspects are definitely over-the-top but many of the thought-out details in the design (heavy on dark, woody tones) bring it literally back to earth. With summer’s end nigh, its woodsy lobby, bar, and restaurant were apt for the changing of seasons. The hotel bar, appropriately name the Redwood Room, is actually impressively pieced together from a single 400-year-old redwood tree found fallen in a Northern Californian forest. The motif continues to other parts of the Clift: its restaurant, the Velvet Room, includes, among other details, rugs with patterns resembling woodgrain; in the lobby and adjacent lounge, a fireplace and surrounded by an abundance of seating, creates a cozy living room ambiance, an extremely inviting respite from blustery bay winds.

The hotel’s rooms and suites, in stark contrast to the lobby and adjoining rooms on the lower level, are soft and light, a clean and simple aesthetic said to mirror the foggy Bay skies. Another well-planned detail are the rooms’ “decompression chambers,” small compartmentalized areas with a shot of color, designed to snap guests’ senses into place while transitioning from sidewalk-to-lobby or hallway-to-room.

The Clift is high brow, built to seamlessly serve some demanding traveling needs: to name a few of the amenities to expect, a 24-hr fitness center, ample room service options, modern audio/visual systems, and a ridiculously stocked mini-bar. Even the WIFI seemed to never hiccup my entire stay (which cannot be said for most hotels’ connections). Bicycle rentals are also available should one choose to dare the steep inclines of the Golden Gate city.

Situated perfectly in the middle of the city, the Clift is just a short jaunt away from many area landmarks, among others, Market Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown. Also nearby is the heralded Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). I had the chance to visit for a couple hours on my last day in the city and was taken aback by the intriguing exhibit on the design and philosophy of Dieter Rams, who spearheaded the design of such influential companies like Braun in the mid-to-late 20th century. A quick walk through the lush Yerba Buena Gardens and Union Square Park found me back at the Clift for a fantastic and unique meal in the Velvet Room topped off with some drinks along side the flock of guests swarming through the Redwood room, a perfect end to my last day in San Francisco.

Looking back on the several long strolls through the city streets, a long meander down the Embarcadero, some seriously good meals (Slanted Door, Stable Cafe, Tartine, etc.) and even a foggy run through Golden Gate Park, the Clift shone as a serious imprint in my memory during my time in the Bay Area.

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