Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco
Working in the travel business has afforded me the luxury of staying at some amazing hotels around the world. Mandarin Oriental Hotels have always been a favorite of mine and the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is no exception. It was time to buy a birthday present for my boyfriend, who has everything in the world and really does not want for anything. Since I could not think of anything to buy him, I decided to give him an experience for his birthday. He had mentioned wanting to visit San Francisco as it had been years since he had been. I put my travel agent skills to work and planned a weekend get-a-way. There are many hotels in San Francisco, but I chose Mandarin Oriental. They are so well known for their impeccable service, hotel locations, fabulous cuisine and so much more. After a short flight from Los Angeles, we arrived at San Francisco International Airport. As we walked out of the terminal, a driver from Music Express was waiting to whisk us off to our destination. A short 20 minute ride and we were there. The impeccably dressed doorman promptly opened the door and welcomed us to the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco. The lobby is beautiful, yet very low key. We arrived much earlier than check-in time, yet our room was ready for us. The front desk assistant addressed us by name, checked us in and the bellhop took us to our suite on the 46th floor of the hotel. The service is very discreet and very professional. Just a few minutes after we arrived in our room, a hotel staff member brought us up a tray of cookies and freshly brewed lavender tea. She kindly poured us two glasses and left us on our own to enjoy. The suite was lovely and had the most breathtaking view of the city and the bay. Since the suite was located on a corner, we had sweeping views of the entire S.F. bay on one side and the city on the other. You could lie on the bed and admire the absolutely gorgeous view. The bed was perfectly comfortable, with many pillows and a warm and cozy down comforter. The windows open just a bit, enough to let the cool breeze in your room. The bathroom was a nice size with a separate shower and bath. I always enjoy the robe and slippers provided by the hotel and these were quite comfortable. One of my favorite bathroom amenities is a blow dryer. When the hotel supplies one, it is just one less thing that goes in my overnight bag. There was a large closet, a safe and a nice area to keep our suitcases packed, yet out of the way. The hotel offers turndown service, so each night upon returning from dinner, our room was tidied and the bed was turned down and waiting for us to climb in. During out two night stay there, we managed to do lots of sightseeing and really experience the city. The hotel has a great location in the Financial District and is close to the Embarcadero. Within a 20 minute walk are Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach (Little Italy) and the Ferry Building. San Francisco is well known for their cuisine, so we decided to indulge in some local favorites. Our first stop was Bistro Boudin, located at the Fisherman's Wharf. We had a lovely table with a nice bay view and a waitress who was happy to tell us about her experience living in San Francisco. People who live there just love the feel of the city and the history within it. Not to be missed at Bistro Boudin is the corn and crab chowder served in a bread bowl. It was so good that we actually went back there one more time during our stay. The soup is served piping hot inside a warm and soft sourdough bread bowl. They also have a cafe located downstairs where diners can choose from salads, sandwiches, soups and lite fare. There is a bakery museum and a tour where you can learn about the bread and its history, which dates back to 1849. There is also a retail store where you can purchase bread and other yummy San Francisco treats and culinary items. We took a sourdough lobster and some Chocolate Red Velvet Tea back home for our kids. I am a foodie and always put lots of thought into our dining choices. Friday night, I decided I wanted to walk the streets of North Beach and choose a restaurant that looked authentic and give it a go. The first restaurant we passed that was crowded and lively was going to be the place we would have dinner. On the corner of Columbus and Broadway in North Beach is E Tutto Qua! We passed it and knew it was the one. There were people sitting at all the tables, people at the bar and lots of delicious smells coming from inside. The moment we walked in, we were greeted by staff members encouraging us to sing Happy Birthday to another guest as they brought him a piece of house made Tiramisu. They sat us down at a table and within moments, we had our drinks and a basket of bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip it in. If the bread was an indication of how good the food was, we were in for a real treat. I ordered a pasta dish with freshly made spinach linguini, shrimp, scallops and lobster in a tomato sauce. It was absolutely amazing and as authentic as anything served in Italy. My boyfriend ordered a steak with potatoes in a balsamic reduction. It was also fabulous. Espresso and Panna Cotta covered in chocolate and strawberry sauce ended our meal. For breakfast, we headed off to a local spot called Mama's that the concierge recommended. She warned us there would be a wait as the food is just that good. We got there early and there was still a wait. Well worth it, I have to say. Mama's serves the freshest omelets with local ingredients, French toast, pancakes and all the traditional breakfast items. They also have a bakery and serve the yummiest cinnamon rolls, carrot cake, banana bread and several different types of muffins. We had a conversation with the owner, who informed us that there are 3 generations of his family running the restaurant and they are planning on moving from their current location in a few months to a much larger restaurant located just up the street. They had occupied that location for 50 years. They need the extra space as they are always crowded. This one is a must do! A trip to the Ferry Building on a Saturday can be very fun. There are lots of vendors selling their local goodies whether it is wine, cheese, meat or artwork. Outside of the building, sits the largest Farmer's Market that I have ever seen. This is open 3 days a week and is where all the chefs in town go to get fresh produce and other items for their restaurants. San Francisco is a place where you can go and be a tourist or see the local treasures. Whatever you choose, it is a fun place to be. A ride on a trolley car adds to the fun and seeing the sea lions at Pier 39 is fun too. Great photo opportunities are everywhere from the Golden Gate Bridge to the historic buildings at the Presidio. Enjoy it all! Make your visit perfect by staying at the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco.
Find a travel agent who specializes in this
Videos & Articles
Reviews, Tips and Insights about All things Travel