In a small building on a small block at the bottom of a downhill slope stands the petite boutique, Hotel Bijou. Its Art Deco charm, movie-theme motif and friendly staff put it quaintly out of sorts with the central-city coldness of the Union Square and Tenderloin neighborhoods that it straddles. Lucky for you, this location on-the-cusp-of-seediness keeps the price low even though the location is prime. Two blocks from BART and Muni stations and a 15-minute walk from affluent Nob Hill as well as trendy SoMa and Hayes Valley, it’s the perfect place to rest up, watch a San Francisco-themed flick and prepare for the day ahead.
A special atmosphere
From the outside, you might be wondering what you’ve got yourself into. If you approach the hotel from Eddy Street, the awning on the outside of the building looks a tad out of place on the edge of San Francisco’s most ill-reputed neighborhood, the Tenderloin. But if you’re coming down Mason Street from nearby Union Square, it just looks like you’re nearly on the outside edge of Downtown. Of course, neither side of this bizarre intersection gives any real prelude to what lies inside the building. The charm of Hotel Bijou is evident from the moment you enter.
The Miami Beach style Art Deco carpeting, rich wall colors and textured curtains are immediately hospitable. The friendly staff speaks to you like a real person, offering not just “service” but real advice, opinions and local knowledge in a comfortable atmosphere that would put any traveler at ease. The complimentary glass of wine doesn’t hurt that feeling of ease, either. The lobby, with its Tamara de Lempicka artwork and opulent but unpretentious chaise lounges, is somewhere you might actually come to hang out, even if you weren’t a guest.
Best of all, the hotel hosts screenings of films shot in and around San Francisco. “The Birdman from Alcatraz,” “Vertigo,” “The Lady from Shanghai” and “Bullitt” are just a few. The eight-seat Petit Theatre inside the hotel serves free popcorn and double features nightly, for romantic night in after an exhausting day.
Not roomy, but comfy
The building and rooms are small but very adequate, all with a great view of the lively street or a quiet alley. And although the building looks pretty muted on the outside, the colorful rooms all feature a splashy green carpeting and bright bedspreads bursting with chevrons and geometric shapes. It’s not exactly a room to spread out in, but the tight quarters and bathrooms are neatly kept and clean. Bathrooms are equipped with organic soaps and shampoos as well as an abundance of towels. Wi-Fi and continental breakfast, the most important amenities, are included.
And, with many of the rooms named for movies shot in San Francisco, the aura of the building is just a little bit magical, too. Try staying in rooms themed after “The Birds,” “The Jazz Singer” or “Interview with the Vampire” for a one-of-a-kind experience.
The price is right for a great location
You can’t get more central than Market and 5th Streets, where the BART regional underground metro and the Muni local streetcar converge on Powell Street, which still follows the track of the old-school cable cars. This is the commercial heart of San Francisco and the bottom valley under the historic center, Nob Hill. Hotel Bijou is two blocks from this epicenter, making it easy to see the high street, find a live theatre, bar or restaurant and walk to some of the city’s major sights all within a few minutes of stepping out of the door. The Yerba Buena Gardens, Civic Center and Union Square are all particularly of note.
That’s why the price of a room - starting around 100.00 USD - is so exceptional. Finding a hotel at this price that’s convenient, clean and even cute in central San Francisco is a pretty tall order, and Bijou fits the bill nicely.
Cute, comfy, convenient
Although the landscape of San Francisco seems to shift from picturesque to sordid in the blink of an eye, Bijou sits within the “picturesque” framework and is a great home base for exploring the city’s greatest jewels. Friendly staff, stylish design and comfortable rooms make it a great place to stay; the reasonable price and fantastic location make Hotel Bijou an incredible value, too.