Welcome to Hotels California – such a lovely place

Having spent a fair amount of time in California in the past (yes it’s true I’ve been to Disneyland nine times), when Range Rover New Zealand asked if I’d be keen to head to San Francisco to drive their all-new Rangie, I almost bit their hand off – but also saved some appetite for Fisherman’s Wharf.

Our slightly dated aircraft

With timing being a factor, our flight to the US took an ‘interesting’ route via Fiji and flying Business Class with the charming Fiji Airways. Now, I have to admit to being somewhat alarmed when I heard we weren’t heading up there with our national carrier and just quietly, I expected the worst, but in all honesty, the service was great – just the plane was a little dated.

Bula – Business class all the way

Anyway, we were greeted at SFO (San Fran Airport) with a Chauffeur in the new Range Rover and whisked to our abode for 2 nights, the St Regis Hotel, at 125 3rd, San Francisco.

What a greeting

The St Regis is a luxury Forbes 5 Star property located in the heart of SoMa. Its convenient location makes it just a short walk or drive from luxury shopping on Union Square, technology and finance headquarters in the Financial District, acclaimed art museums, and iconic San Francisco attractions – well alrighty then. 

First stop – St Regis

My room was a Superior (evidently the Presidential Suite was booked) that offered up a huge king-size bed and completely reimagined contemporary interior. Including Bella Crema marble and custom upholstered headboard with picoted leather panelling.  

A room with a view

Wall coverings subtly reference San Francisco’s iconic hills and valleys while California’s glorious panoramas, as captured by legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams, bring a gallery feel to the room. 

A new colour palette of silver, copper, and iron hint at the city’s Gold Rush heritage, adding an alluring lustre to the ambiance set off by distinctive custom 3D computer graphic applications designed by Christo Saba, which pay homage to today’s tech industry giants.

Multi-tasking. You can bath and chat/watch TV at the same time.

There was a work area with a large layered smoked glass writing desk and a comfortable two-tone chair offering a welcome place to stay on top of business.

While the Bathroom featured a deep soaking tub with a resort-style shuttered window between the bathroom and bedroom for privacy (I left that open) as well as frosted glass-enclosed stone shower with a mounted rainfall showerhead and a detachable handheld shower.

The TV was a 55” plasma and the WiFi was pretty good.

Once unpacked, it was time to head to the bar for dinner and drinks. As it turned out, thanks to Covid, the menu was not exactly Michelin, more road diner (ok I’m being a bit harsh) but on the plus side, the St Regis bar delivered the goods.

Trams, the way of the future

You see, in 1934, Fernand Petiot, the bartender at The St. Regis New York’s King Cole Bar, perfected the recipe for a vodka-and-tomato juice cocktail he dubbed the Bloody Mary. Deemed too racy a name for the hotel’s clientele, it was rechristened the Red Snapper. While the latter moniker may not have stood the test of time, Fernand’s spicy concoction certainly has.

Iconic and golden

The St. Regis San Francisco Bloody Mary – Golden Gate Mary is a must have. Red and orange ingredients-from tequila to chilli pepper-give this libation the vermilion hue of a Pacific sunset. A couple of these helped me sleep through the guy yelling somewhere 13 stories below for most of the night.

Forest would be proud

Sight-seeing the next day had us crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, driving down Lombard Street, heading up to Coit Tower, eating Clam Chowder from a sourdough roll at Fisherman’s Wharf and shopping in Union Square. Followed by more Bloody Mary’s at the St Regis later that night.

Seriously tasty – and very filling

Next up for us was a two day drive around Napa Valley in the new Range Rover range. And as part of that, a night’s stay in The Montage Healdsburg.

Indoor/outdoor flow

Nestled among 258 acres of rolling vineyards and oak tree groves, Montage Healdsburg features an 11,500-square-foot spa, a zero-edge resort pool, three signature dining options, including a seasonal poolside restaurant, inspired by the region’s culinary heritage and seamless access to Northern California’s renowned wineries and outdoor experiences.

My ‘unused’ workspace

Accommodation was one of their 130 bungalow-style guestrooms,  blended contemporary influence with environmentally conscious design. With one-third of each room space dedicated to outdoor living on a balcony or deck. Again another king-size bed awaited me, plus a big bath, indoor shower and an outdoor one too – I used both, with the outdoor one being very liberating.

A highlight of the stay, a shower with nature

Dinner was at their Hazel Hill restaurant with food that combined the inventive flavours of Californian cuisine with the timeless traditions of French gastronomy – and of course wine!

Sunrise or sunset, the Napa Valley is beautiful

For my last night in California, it was back to San Francisco only this time staying in The Fairmont atop of Nob Hill (insert jokes here). 

Here’s Johnny

The Fairmont is a place straight out of the Shining, a blend of turn of the century (not this one) grandeur with hints of modernism. Graceful and stately, Fairmont San Francisco is the landmark atop Nob Hill. A hotel so grand, they built a city around it.

Stylish wallpaper never dates

Fairmont San Francisco was the first American hotel to offer concierge service, and quite honestly, the foyer is an experience in ‘20s history all by itself.

Stunning foyer – majestic in every way

My room was rather dated, with fixtures and fittings from a time gone by, and the dinner menu was again limited (I opted for burgers), but it’s forgiven due to the hotel’s history and heritage – Presidents have stayed there.

Burger and fries was on the menu

So there you have it, four nights, three hotels and each with a story to tell. Go check them out when you get a chance, and tell them ‘Dave sent ya’.

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