Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, San Francisco

I spent this past weekend at the Mark Hopkins in San Francisco in a Terrace Suite.

mh_entrance.JPG offers,

    Splurge on a Terrace Suite to enjoy the ultimate perch above the city and feel like a railroad tycoon.

The room sells online for $1500 a night, but I received it as a Royal Ambassador upgrade.

The hotel played host to a gathering of Flyertalk moderators, so I figured I might as well stay there. I have a tinge of jealousy over the Flyertalkers upgraded to Astor Suites at the St. Regis San Francisco, but my upgrade was secured at booking and not having to play the upgrade lottery was reason enough to choose this hotel.

I queried the hotel about what room I’d receive if I booked their lowest category offering. Their usual policy is that Royal Ambassadors get a choice of a junior suite or a club room. If they choose the suite they can purchase club access at $30 instead of the usual $60 upcharge. (The club includes four presentations daily, complimentary internet, and complimentary pressings.)

So then I asked what I would get if I booked a club room, figuring I’d get a King Suite, and they told me instead that I would receive a Terrace Suite. Sold.

After a quick set of flights over to Oakland (Dulles-Denver in business on a United 777 and Denver-Oakland in ‘first’ on an ex-Shuttle 737), I took the $50 cab ride to the hotel. Sure, the shuttle to the Coliseum to the Bart to a cheaper cab ride would have saved some money…

Checkin was a breeze. I walked up to the front desk and they immediately escorted me to the lounge. They processed my paperwork and sent me on my way. No escort, though, and bags took about twenty minutes to arrive.

Still, the room was fabulous.

Oddly enough, at about 900 square feet this is my smallest of three Intercontinental suites over the past month. I had the 1600 square foot Diplomatic Suite at the Intercontinental Bangkok and a 1300 square foot Executive Suite at the Willard before that.

Still, the terrace absolutely makes the room. Others have commented on the tacky wicker furniture, but it seems to have been upgraded slightly. The floor is marble and it has a separate a/c and heater unit which is remote controlled.

Enclosed Terrace


Here’s the view from the terrace in one direction


The bedroom was nice, but the television was small and in an awkward position. No flat panel here. And the bathroom door opens into the bedroom and hits the bed.


The living room was fine, though the furnishings not really to my taste.


This is a fine old hotel and the renovations have maintained its old charm while upgrading functionality. But make no mistake, this is an old hotel. The elevators are small. Internet is both wired and wireless, but I found it extremely spotty. Connectivity kept going in and out, one of my great frustrations of the weekend.

Service on the whole was also spotty. There were some bright spots. Ulysses and Lauren in Guest Relations were excellent. There was one tall, dark haired man whose name escapes me that was as condescending as I’ve ever experienced, and I’m no stranger to far higher-end properties than this.

Some brief examples of their shortcomings and inconsistencies:

  • Turndown service: not offered first night, included water bottles the next night, no water the third but for the first time we got the next day’s weather forecast.

  • Housekeeping didn’t replace toileteries after the first day, left bathmats on the floor second day, and took the trash can out of the bathroom cabinet the third day and left it out (which was the only way I realized there was even a trash can in the bathroom).

  • The Ambassador amenity of fruit and chocolates took 6 hours to arrive. Some hotels refresh the amenity daily (such as in Bangkok but not on Tahiti) but this one didn’t. Housekeeping didn’t remove the fruit when it went rotten (though they took away the plates but not the flatware).

  • No Ambassador gift (which is required, in Bangkok I got a leather business card holder) was given.

  • While they told me by email that as a Royal Ambassador booking a club room I’d be upgraded to a terrace suite (I had this in writing before booking), another Royal Ambassador booking the same room and rate received only a corner suite despite availability of the better room.

All in all, a great room – a great upgrade – from a solid, classic hotel that could be much better if only they’d make the effort.

More photos of the view from the terrace after the jump…



About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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