Friday, February 13, 2009

The 'Palace Hotel' downtown San Francisco

I was late booking my hotels for the week in San Francisco. I'd forgotten to get the hotel since Karrissa normally books the hotel along with the classroom venue (we normally hold classes in hotel facilities). This week was at the University of Phoenix classrooms downtown.

So I was late... and was worried that I'd have to pay some exorbitant rate for a 'financial district' hotel. I went to my normal
travel site to book the travel. I have in the past 'roughed it' in some pretty bad hotels to save money. And this week was going to be no exception.

I was late, and so I expected to be penalized. So when the cheapest hotel in the area showed up at only $109, and the next closest was nearly $200 and the others in the area were $200+ per night. I gritted my teeth and clicked on the 'Palace' hotel. It was in San Francisco, and in my mind's eye I was thinking of some low rent 'Chinese Palace' type affair that I'd hate for five nights.

Well, was I so surprised when I came up from the BART station, after from my ride in from the Oakland Airport, to find the 'Palace' hotel was actually a very posh, elegant, classic hotel -- in the Sheraton's "Luxury Collection".
This place was awesome. The Palace Hotel, built in 1875, was reputedly the largest, most luxurious and costly hotel in the world at the time. Opulence everywhere! Gilded furniture, high-ceiling Garden Court, Grand Ballrooms, liveried bell staff everywhere.The Palace Hotel was designed as the American counterpart to the grand hotels of Europe.The majestic building hailed 7,000 windows, 14-foot high ceilings and an unprecedented opulence. The hydraulic elevators – an engineering marvel for the time – were dubbed "rising rooms." In each of the lavish guest rooms, an electronic call button allowed guests to "ring" for anything they desired and air conditioning was a standard feature. Even the door-knobs reek of excess.The Palace Hotel quickly gained prominence among the traveling elite. Famed tenor Enrico Caruso was a guest at the hotel on April 18, 1906 when a devastating earthquake hit. While the hotel survived the quake structurally, it was decimated in the ensuing fire that swept most of downtown. It took three years of rebuilding and would re-open in 1909.Resuming its place among elite society, the new Palace Hotel attracted dignitaries, business moguls and celebrities alike. Presidents Harrison, McKinley, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Clinton all spent time here. John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Oscar Wilde were guests.I really 'lucked out' on getting this great hotel for a phenomenal price! I like not only getting a 'deal' but also learning a bit about the historic location where I'm staying.

Another 'tidbit' of information from San Francisco this week. The venue was on 'Front Street' - about a quarter-mile from the current waterfront, but back in 1848, the waterfront WAS on 'Front Street' and later they filled in the bay and pushed the waterfront more than a quarter-mile to the east.


Janet said...

I always learn something new from your blog! Thanks

Gramps said...

I'm glad you were able to find a less expensive hotel and one that gave us all a history lesson. thanks....