A wonderful hotel experience
A quick stay at Hotel Drisco in San Francisco
Last week I found myself speaking in San Francisco at SmashingConf.
Based on a recurring recommendation, I ended up staying relatively nearby at a small neighborhood hotel called Hotel Drisco. I’d never stayed there before, and I’d never visited the Pacific Heights neighborhood before either. What a lovely area.
When I walked in the place felt historic and cozy. Wood paneled walls, classic human scale lobby, some comfortable creaks in the floor, and a wonderfully polite but never in your face staff. They understood the art of service.
I checked in. They happened to have a suite available with nicer views, so I paid a little extra and took it.
I get to the room. First thing I notice is that the windows are cracked open a bit. It’s a lovely warm spring day — I’m sure it was intentional. A gentle cross-breeze whispering welcome. It’s the kind of thing I’d do at home if the weather was nice outside.
There are some booklets on the table. I pop one open and turn to this page:
6 bottles of complimentary water. Now… When you’re a paying few hundred bucks for a room you might expect free water, but as anyone who’s stayed in a hotel lately knows, there’s plenty of bottled water around but it usually wears a $5 or $7 price tag. So a hotel that doesn’t play games and try to nickel and dime you on water feels like a very special place indeed. And not just a bottle or two, but six, and they’re placed conveniently in a few different areas so one is always near by. Thoughtful.
And here’s the fruit place they promised:
I paid roughly the same room rate at a Marriott recently, and there wasn’t any fruit unless I wanted to order the $15 fruit plate from room service. And they were also happy to sell me bottled water at $5/pop, too:
The room at the Drisco was nice and traditional, what you’d expect in a classic, neighborhood, boutique hotel. It was at peace being itself. Clean, solid traditional furniture. The kind of real furniture that handles age well, not the kind of imitation candy coated looks-good-the-the-first-year-but-then-starts-to-peel-and-crack stuff you find in a lot of hotels these days. The bed was comfortable and the sheets and towels were plentiful and quality. Everything I could want, nothing overboard, but also nothing contrived or precious. Just a perfectly comfortable and comforting hotel room.
I ordered a sandwich for lunch the next day and the room service prices were perfectly reasonable. $6 or so for a sandwich, if I recall. Totally fair. Never once did I feel gouged at Hotel Drisco. Very different feeling that I’m used to staying at larger hotels — or even many smaller boutique hotels.
I had a good night’s sleep. The next morning it was time to go. How do most hotels say goodbye? With a bill slipped under your door.
The Drisco didn’t slip a bill. Instead they left a little bag on the door handle.
We know you’re leaving, so here’s a few things that might help. A TSA-approved bag, a microfiber cloth to clean glasses or electronics, and some mints. Probably cost the hotel a buck or two max. Absolutely worth it.
Now, ultimately these are small things, but they didn’t feel small to me. A fresh breeze, some complimentary bottled water, an apple, pear, some grapes, a banana and a kiwi, and a little bag of extras on the way out. Surely less than $7 overall to the hotel. Of course it had nothing to do with the value of these things, it had all to do with the thought. Such a contrast from the typical hotel experience.
I was left with this impression: The Drisco was on my side. And when you’re a tired traveler, having a hotel feel like it’s there for you, rather than you feel like you’re doing it a favor by staying there, is a really welcome feeling. I recommend this place whole-heartedly.