Hotel Review: W San Francisco

181 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel Phone: (415)-777-5300
Hotel Category: 6
Points Needed for Redemption: 20,000 Starpoints

Category Rating
Food Options 3/5
Room 5/5
Toiletries/Bed 3.5/5
Pool and Gym Small Gym/No Pool

Spa Available

Convenience 4/5
Service 4/5


Back in March of last year, my family took a quick trip over to San Francisco to enjoy spring break as well as to get our Global Entry application interview done. At the time there were no interviews available at either DFW or IAH, so we ended up merging business and pleasure on the trip. When I was looking at hotels to book, I had to choose between Le Meridien San Francisco and W because I had wanted to use up some suite night awards and gather some stays/nights toward platinum status for 2014. I could’ve also chosen the St. Regis, but rates there are outrageous most of the time (30k points or $400/night). After evaluating the reviews it sounded like the W SF was in a better neighborhood for shopping and dining than Le Meridien, which is actually situated on the other side of town. The rate I eventually booked was around $180 per night per room (including taxes) and I ended up using 3 of my 10 suite night awards for this reservation.


We arrived at the hotel around 5pm by car after a short 20 minute car ride from SFO. I pulled into the hidden driveway of the hotel, where I was quickly helped out of my car and a bellman quickly unloaded our luggage. While my dad was checking in, I went around the block assessing potential parking spots. The spots were mostly full and the garage around the corner had a hefty fee and definitely didn’t include unlimited in/out privileges. I quickly gave up and decided to valet the car in the end. The parking ended up costing: $56/night, but included unlimited in/out privileges. <Sigh> problems of staying in any downtown.

Once I walked inside, my dad told me that both the rooms had been upgraded: my parents received an upgrade to the Fantastic suite, while my sister and I got a cool corner room with double beds. He ended up choosing the breakfast amenity for both rooms, which included a voucher for $15 per person, which ended up being more than enough to cover breakfast.

The Fantastic Suite:

Walking into the room, the first thing your eyes run to is the fantastic bench seat spanning the greater part of the windows in this room. We greatly enjoyed our evenings talking and looking over the city. The room also featured a sofa, a Bose Stereo system, and a rather oddly positioned TV, which I didn’t care for (watching the city was more interesting). Overall I can’t help but compliment the color scheme of the room itself, which felt both modern and fun. This is part of the reason I enjoy the decor of W hotels in general.


The Window Bench at the W San Francisco
A hazy/foggy day in the Bay Area
View of San Francisco at night from the Fantastic Suite
The living area of the Fantastic Suite

The suite featured two full baths, which makes it more than enough for a family of four. Unfortunately the max occupancy for these rooms is 3 so I didn’t partake in cutting the corner here. Altogether the blue windows with plantation shutters seem to be a standard at the hotel, which I very much like. There is a lot of natural light flowing into the room, and it’s always interesting to watch the low clouds and fog roll by outside the window.

The hotel had Bliss Spa toiletries (like any W), which don’t really impress IMHO. They really smell like a modified flavor of bubble gum in my mind, but this really isn’t something to lose sleep over.

One of the two full bath featured in the suite

To the left of the living room was a door to the bedroom which also featured a window bench with the same wonderful views of the area. The decor was modern and the bed was extremely comfortable from what my parents said. I even recently found out that these beds have a following. Many of you guys apparently have them at home, awesome is all I’ve got to say.

DSC00847 DSC00851

The Cool Corner Room with Double Beds

I didn’t include pictures of the second room because it was basically the same as the bedroom part of the suite, except with two beds instead of one. Our room was on a lower floor, but still had some great views of the city from the window bench. The restroom design and toiletries were all the same.

The Concierge and Dinner Reservation at Amber India

On the day we arrived, my phone had died and I didn’t feel like whipping out my laptop to look for nearby restaurants so I called the concierge to ask for any recommendations. It turned out that one of best Indian restaurants in Frisco, Amber India is just a few blocks from the hotel. The concierge was easily able to secure us seats at the restaurant and seemed genuinely excited that it was our first time dining at this restaurant. She was also helpful in giving us directions on how to get there, so we ended up not needing our phones.

The restaurant was a very easy 7 minute (0.3 mi) walk from the hotel. There seemed to be quite the wait outside for a table for those who I’m assuming didn’t make a reservation. We walked straight in and our table was set already, so I would definitely recommend having a reservation for dinner.

The ambiance of the restaurant was definitely on the higher end and the service was wonderfully prompt and polite. The staff was incredibly receptive to food allergies (my sister is allergic to all kinds of nuts) and any taste preferences (eg. garlic free food). Note here that we are vegetarian.

The appetizers had to be the highlight of the menu. I would recommend all the vegetarian starters on the menu: the Cauliflower Bezule, Palak Chat, and Samosa.DSC00949


As for the entrees, I don’t have the pictures, but I do recall that we pretty much tried the entire menu between the three times we went there (YES THREE TIMES). Everything is excellent quality, and I don’t recall there being a single remotely bad item on the menu.

Breakfast @ the Trace

Breakfast is served every morning at the hotel restaurant: the Trace from 6:30am-10:30am (M-F). As I mentioned, before as a SPG Platinum member we were offered either the continental breakfast or $15 off any item on the menu, which read as follows:

As you can see the menu is by no means extensive, so you may find yourself getting bored if you stay here too long (more than 3 days). I apologize for misplacing the pictures of the food itself, but I do recall that I especially enjoyed the toasted bagel with the homemade cucumber cream cheese, which is my go to item. My parents ordered some of the sourdough toast, which they seemed to enjoy. My sister and I did try the buttermilk pancakes on our last day at the hotel, and those were also pretty good. All in all, I had nothing to complain about this experience, and it was definitely on the enjoyable side, though still not as great as the W Chicago City Center (review to come later).


On most mornings we were there, the restaurant was pretty much empty. This was probably because of our stay was on a weekday and everyone had gone off to work by the time we made our way down. The decor of the restaurant was pretty modern and clean, and the ambiance was full of the natural light permeating from the windows of the restaurant.



The Gym and Spa

Unfortunately, we did not get to take a look at the Gym or the Spa since we were always out and about, but more information can be found here.

Bottom Line:

The W Hotel will pretty much be my go to hotel in San Francisco depending on how high the rates are across town. With the hotel being in the heart of Soma District, close to Union Square and the major shopping areas, I don’t think you can go wrong with this location. The rooms were in all in great condition and the noise levels were surprisingly low for a W hotel. However I must note here that your miles may vary (YMMV) in this regard since we stayed during the beginning of the work week. I really loved the window bench concept at this hotel and I really wish more hotels would provide similar sitting areas. The staff recognized SPG Platinums pretty well, and the breakfast benefit is really one of the best of hotels in Frisco. I do appreciate the concierge recommending Amber India, and I definitely like the fact that it is close by. Overall, it’s definitely a solid choice in a city with a number of decently rated SPG hotels. Hopefully I can try the St. Regis down the street next time for point of comparison.  A word of caution here though: It has been a while (like almost 2 years) since I’ve stayed at this hotel, so YMMV.

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