Entering San Francisco from the North by ferry is the only way to arrive. There’s something enchanting about a trip across the bay. It puts you in a Tony Bennett state of mind. Departing the ferry after a cruise and glass of wine, you arrive relaxed and ready to leave your heart. But best of all, out the front door of the Ferry Building and three minutes later, the cool, calm lobby of Harbor Court Hotel welcomes you. For me, there is no better location or hotel in San Francisco, California.
This hotel is the perfect size
A diminutive hotel with 131 guest rooms, Harbor Court has a stylish European feel. When you enter the light and open lobby, you are greeted by front desk staff on your left. To the right are chilled dispensers of flavored water like cucumber or lemon. So nice after a walk or ride.
Check-in is friendly, fast and efficient. The staff at HCH are some of the very best I have encountered. Always welcoming and helpful, they make you feel as though you are the most important guest in the hotel.
A few steps up from the lobby is the ‘living room’, a cozy and welcoming gathering area. Come here for a morning coffee/tea bar. After five, wine and beer are served during a complimentary wine tasting session. Couches, chairs and table seating encourage guest interaction. Games and bowls of simple munchies are scattered here and there.
TIP: One of the best seats in the living room is the love seat in front of the Embarcadero doors. It faces away from the room and out to the procession of walkers, cyclists, autos, busses and boats. A great spot to chill and watch humanity.
The ideal location
Harbor Court Hotel is along the Embarcadero at 165 Steuart Street, San Francisco, California. One side faces Embarcadero, the other, Steuart Street. It is a three-minute walk South of the Ferry Building. Ferry transportation is available for bay crossings to Larkspur, Sausalito, Tiburon, Angel Island, Vallejo, Alameda-Oakland and Alameda-Harbor. TIP: This is much less expensive than a bay cruise.
The hotel is two blocks from the Embarcadero Transit Center with access to buses and streetcars, cable cars and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). You can get to any part of the city or even across the bay to Sausalito, Marin, Oakland and more. It’s quick, safe, inexpensive and easy.
TIP: Buy a MUNI Pass in the Ferry Building at Bay Crossings. Available in different number of days, you will have cheap and fast, no change needed access to MUNI and Cable Cars. Bart passes are sold separately.
Divine 4-star rooms
This 4-star, Embarcadero waterfront hotel has lovely, restful rooms. The sumptuous Frette linens and extraordinarily comfy beds will call to you. Everything is well maintained and extremely clean. Each room offers complimentary WI-FI, flat screen HD television with cable, telephones and exceptional toiletries.
There are two types of rooms, bay view and city or courtyard view. If it’s in your budget, get a bay view room. At night, you will be treated to the mesmerizing Bay Bridge and the lights of boats passing through the bay. There’s no doubt the bay view rooms are better, if for no other reason, they are larger. The courtyard view rooms are an interior location looking into a breeze-way. City view rooms look towards the financial district and its tall buildings.
Very special extras
The complimentary evening wine and beer tasting and morning coffee/tea bar have quality selections, service and presentation. The evening wine tasting serves several California wines, local microbrew beer, waters and juices. No food is served aside from snacks such as pretzels. Morning coffee is locally roasted and organic. High quality teas get the day started right.
Complimentary national newspapers are available in the lobby.
A bike rack by the front door holds loaner bicycles and locks. TIP: Ride a bike along the Embarcadero. It’s one of the few flat streets in this famously hilly city. Get the makings for a picnic and head out to explore parts unknown. You may ask for a lender umbrella during heavy fog or rain.
In-room or restaurant dining is available from the hotel’s own Japanese restaurant Ozumo. The restaurant’s sake lounge features one of North America’s largest sake lists.
A pass to the YWCA located in the same building, can be had for a nominal fee. There you can run on a rooftop track, swim in an Olympic sized pool, play basketball, workout or take part in 90+ fitness classes. Steam, saunas and hot tubs are also available.
Harbor Court: A top hotel in the best location
Harbor Court is a delight from top to bottom. The staff always go out of their way to make certain your visit is all you expected. The location is the best in the city with quick access to all forms of public transportation.
Numerous restaurants and bars that cover all budgets are within easy walking distance. Food stalls at the Ferry Building and neighborhood markets offer a wide selection of provisions for a picnic or in-room treats.
Attractions including Fisherman’s Wharf, Cable Cars, AT&T Ball Park, Hyde Street Pier, Alcatraz Island, the Aquarium, Exploratorium and many, many more are a short walk or quick bus ride away.
TIP: The best rates are available during Thanksgiving week each year.
Give this former YMCA lodging, now amazing hotel a try. Once you’ve stayed at the Harbor Court, you’ll be hooked as I am.