San Francisco Hotel Review: San Remo, a Historic Hostelry in the Heart of Little Italy

The San Remo Hotel is a European-style hostelry in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach district. Dating back to 1906, it offers cozy accommodation and period furnishings. It is also home to one of The City’s finest Italian restaurants.

Entrance to the San Remo Hotel in the heart of North Beach in San Francisco, California. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The San Remo Hotel is a European-style hostelry located in North Beach, a.k.a. Little Italy.

The San Remo  was built following the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 to house the men that were needed to help rebuild The City.

Originally known as the New California Hotel, it was built by A. P. Giannini, founder of the Bank of America, which was originally known as the Bank of Italy.

The hotel housed sailors, fishermen, and chocolate-makers from the Ghiradelli chocolate plant, which was located nearby.

The hotel was re-christened the San Remo in 1922.

Brothers Tom Field and Robert Field purchased the hotel in the 1970s, when many of San Francisco’s historic wooden structures were falling victim to the wrecker’s ball.

Their goal was to restore the building to its original glory, maintaining the cozy guest rooms, the stained glass skylights, and the traditional “bathrooms down the hall”.

The Arrival …

My friendly taxi driver, whose name was Peter. We chatted all the way from the train station to the hotel. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

I arrived on a sunny Sunday afternoon and was greeted by the happy sounds of Dixieland jazz, which were emanating from Fior d’Italia, the hotel’s elegant Italian eatery.

I couldn’t help but wonder if I hadn’t somehow been transported to New Orleans by mistake!

After checking in and putting my things in my room, I went downstairs to meet a friend that I hadn’t seen in several years.

Our original plan was find a coffee house in Little Italy  in order to catch up over mocha.

As soon as she heard the music emanating from the inside of Fior d’Italia, however, she suggested we go inside, where we enjoyed cocktails and snacks.

What a wonderful welcome to the City by the Bay!

The Public Areas …

There was a tiny lobby opening onto Mason Street. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
The registration at the top of the stairs. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
The hallway on the third floor. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
A skylight in the ceiling let the sun shine in. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The public areas are bathed in natural sunlight and full of quirky touches.

There are Victorian fixtures, local antiques, art nouveau prints, concert posters from the 1960s, and navigational maps of San Francisco Bay,

My Room …

My cozy room. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
There was a comfortable double bed and a sink. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
The view from my room. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
Books by iconic columnist Herb  Cane and other artifacts adorned the walls of my room. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

My room was cozy, with a double or queen size bed, which was covered in a colouful bed spread.

There was sink in the room, but the bathrooms were down the hall.

The Bathrooms …

One of several bathrooms down the hall, which were immaculately clean. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

There were several toilets on each floor. The toilets had wooden water closets mounted high on the wall, with  instructions on how to pull off a proper “royal flush”.

There were also several showers as well as a traditional bathtub, with bath salts should the mood for a leisurely bath move you.

The Breakfast …

Hot and cold beverages and candies were available throughout the day.
Beverages were served from an antique sideboard. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The San Remo Hotel has all the trappings of aa bed-and-breakfast, but it isn’t really. I guess “boutique hotel” would be the proper description.

There was, however, a wooden sideboard with the makings of hot and cold beverages as well as candies such as tootsie rolls and red licorice, which were set out all day.

In the morning, there were also small chocolate cakes, which I found quite delicious.

The Facilities …

There were coin-operated washing machines and driers. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
There were vending machines and an ATM. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The San Remo had coin-operated washers and driers as well as a soft drink machine and an automatic teller machine.

Somewhat unexpectedly, there were massage chairs on each floor. Massages lasted about 20 minutes, and they were free of charge.

The Neighborhood …

One of the many sidewalk cafes lining the streets of Little Italy in San Francisco.

The San Remo Hotel is located in the heart of one of San Francisco’s most fascinating and historic neighborhoods: North Beach, a.k.a. Little Italy.

The neighborhood is chock-a-block with coffee houses, Italian restaurants, Italian delicatessens, and family run grocery stores.

A public library, a public park with a children’s playground, and a public indoor swimming pool are located half a block from the hotel.

The Verdict …

I really enjoyed my three-night stay at the San Remo. The hotel was dripping with nostalgia, and  I loved the retro architecture and quirky decor.

The best part was being greeted by the strains of Dixieland jazz on my arrival.

It was pure luck to have arrived while the twice-weekly jazz concert was in progress!

Fate must have been on my side.

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San Remo Hotel – 2237 Mason Street, San Francisco, California. Tel: (415) 776-8688.

This is the ninth in a series on my epic journey, 70 Days Across America>>

Heartfelt thanks to the San Remo Hotel for my three-night hosted stay.

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