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San Francisco Hotels

Sir Francis Drake Hotel

Pros

  • Can't beat the location
  • Free in-room Wi-Fi
  • On-site restaurant and bar are moderately priced
  • Renovation added needed zip to a formerly faded queen

Cons

  • Small baths
  • Some complaints about unresponsive service and cleanliness

Updated 03/15/2013

Fodor's Review

Beefeater-costumed doormen welcome you into the regal lobby of this 1928 landmark property—newly unveiled from a $30 million renovation—decked out with chandeliers, Italian marble, velvet furnishings and a sparkling new centerpiece bar hugged by silver stools and a pair of Renaissance-inspired murals; the cumulative effect is of an Italian castle restored to her former glory. The renovation was just what this ole gal needed, injecting her with new life and energy.

Though quarters are fitted with typical technological amenities, the rooms are meant to evoke Sir Francis Drake's era with regal headboards atop beds draped in blue, white, red, and gray. Bathrooms are, unfortunately, still tiny. But something else that hasn't changed—the first-rate locationand its rich history, including Harry Denton's Starlight Room, on the hotel's top floor. A tribute to faded 1920s glory, it's one of the city's best-known skyline bars. The hotel's surprisingly affordable restaurant, Scala's Bistro, serves better-than-average food in its somewhat noisy bi-level dining room.

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Hotel Information

Address:

450 Powell St., San Francisco, California, 94102, USA

Map It

Phone:

415-392–7755; 800-795–7129

Hotel Details:

  • 412 rooms, 4 suites
  • No meals

Updated 03/15/2013

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Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
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Jan 15, 2010

Sir Francis Drake Hotel Review

Kimpton has recently taken over this hotel, and generally speaking I have always been happy with Kimpton. However my last stay here just a month ago was a horror story from the get go. First, upon checking in, my reservation was WRONG. I was supposed to have breakfast vouchers and there was none. Even though I had my printout from my booking on line, they would not honor it, and told me that I had to deal with KIMPTON and NOT THE HOTEL!!!

The hotel could not do anything. Next problem was that the room I booked was NOT what I got. I was to have this nicely appointed room (and I have had it before when I stayed there) and what I got was an old outdated room with a miniature bed barely able to accomodate my 6' length. In addition when I got my computer out to get ready for my meeting in the morning, the Internet was down. They insited it was fine, but after persistance and calling their techinical support, which turned out to be several thousand miles away....after having the call escalated twice, I was able to talk to a tech who said the WiFi equipment was not functioning on a number of floors, and they could not get a repair person there until the next day. I needed WiFi for my meeting, and so I wandered the hotel with my laptop and found a signal 6 floors below. Wandering the service staircase I was struck at how dirty the hotel was. The hotel moved me to another room where WiFi was, but the room was just as bad. Also the pillows in both rooms smelled like B.O. as if sweaty people frequent the hotel...what the hell is that about??? If that was not enough, after all this drama I left my room to get ice for a badly needed drink. The ice machine on my floor was broken. I went to the floor below mine, and it was out of service. I went to 2 other floors before I found an ice machine that worked. Wandering the halls, I was struck by how dirty they were, with meal serving trays littered about. Too many and too late in the eveining to be a result of people who just ordered and finished their dinners. Just as I was ready to sleep (it is now midnight) a large jackhammer noise seems to be coming from the wall. It turns out they scheduled construction work in the middle of the night!!!! The front desk apologized claiming they knew nothing of the schedule until just now and said it will be finished in an HOUR!! 1 am!!!!! They told me they had to go because their phones were ringing off the hook! Until Kimpton gets their act together I would NOT recommend staying at this hotel unless you like a LOT OF DRAMA!!!

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By Donna_M

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Jan 20, 2007

Very enjoyable!

We stayed here Aug. 2006 for my brother's wedding ( held at the hotel ). We had a king room which looked recently remodeled and was very nice. The bed was comfortable and had lovely bedding. The bathroom is quite small but that should be expected in older hotels ( which I prefer for the ambiance anyway ). The hotel is beautiful and the wedding was fantastic. Room service breakfast was great!!

By Addy

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Jun 9, 2005

Great location and AVEDA products for free!

Grabbed my booking on priceline for around $75 a night so I think it's great value, but I won't pay the $199 rate posted on their own website. I asked for a double/double because I was told that the room is bigger and I got given one no probs. We stayed on the 10th floor and it's pretty quite although we could hear the cable car's bells ringing from time to time. The room is clean enough, there are a few holes in the blanket and the whole place

isn't as clean as the other two hotels I've stayed (York and Hyatt Regency) but it's fine. The best thing about this hotel is the free wireless internet access that is available in all rooms. I have made extensive use of it to contact my family and friends while I was there. Another good thing is the Aveda toiletries. Bad points - well the room isn't very well ventilated. It's rather stuffy and the windows can't be opened - fair enough given that some people might attempt to jump to their death if the windows can be opened given the height of the building. The room is alright except for some minor things - they have pple doing repairs all the time anyway. Some cracked tiles in the shower, some big wrinkles on the carpet, some thread bare points on the sofa. It's a good place to stay if all you want to do is to explore SF, not the place to spend your honeymoon though. The bed is too soft - no good if you have back problems. Go for Hyatt for similar prices on Priceline if you need a good supportive bed.

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By Renee

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Nov 12, 2004

Run for your lives!!!!

We had the opportunity to stay at the SFD Hotel when my brother got married in San Francisco. It was terrible. The room was very out dated and dirty, I could not wait until the next morning. A Motel 6 would have been just fine compared to the SFD.

By JK

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Oct 21, 2004

Go for the Food!

We picked SFD because we needed to be able to eat in the hotel restaurant - Scala was AWESOME! The food and service were fantastic all 3 nights. Mimi's desserts were decadent! That being said, the hotel was a disappointment. Our queen room was small and dirty and overlooked the strikers across the street. A promised free upgrade was not available so we paid an extra $50 per night to stay in a King Suite. Totally worth it. But shouldn't all

the rooms be "worth it" in a hotel of this class?

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By Kristi

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Aug 3, 2004

Worst room in the hotel?

Despite the attractive lobby, we were very displeased with our stay at the Sir Francis Drake. We were placed in what we guess was the worst room in the hotel - one that backed up to the aging elevators. The whole room shook each time the elevators went up or down. We didn't plan on living in the room as another reviewer noted, but we had hoped to sleep there. Also, the doorman seemed eager for a tip when he handed over the keys to our rental car,

but made no offer to help us place our luggage into the car. Overall the hotel was a huge disappointment.

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By Tracey

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Jul 1, 2004

Buyer Beware

I was excited about the fact that I booked the Sir Francis Drake Hotel for my vacation. Kempington Hotels tend to have a good reputation in the industry. This property however did not meet my expectations. The room was extremely small. The bedding was (bedskirt in particular) soiled. The bathroom was not clean (mold in the shower) and the walls throughout the room were visibly dirty. There was no thermostat in the room, only a window unit.

So, it was either too hot or too cold in the room. The best part about staying at this hotel was the location. It's in the heart of Union Square. In addition the Powell Trolley picks up right in front of the hotel, which was huge plus. Scala's Restaurant had great Italian food, but if you don't make a reservation ahead of time, you will have a long wait to be seated. The same goes for the Starlight Lounge, make your reservations at least a day or two before your arrival. Last but not least, we checked out very early in the morning around 4:00 a.m. They have a skeleton crew and service was not the best with getting luggage from the lobby to the taxi.

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By Mary

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Oct 19, 2003

Cancel Your Reservation Now

This hotel obviously hasn't been upgraded or even properly maintained in years. The rooms were small and spartan, incredibly noisy, in poor repair and dirty. The closet and bath are tiny. The window was so dirty you couldn't see out, the roller shade was inoperative, the inadequate lighting was made worse by having three burned out bulbs. The wallpaper on the bedroom wall against the bathroom was wrinkled and water stained. The carpet, upholstrey

and bed linens were worn. Additionaly, there are no modern safety improvements such as sprinkler systems. Service is also very slow.

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By Mike

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Aug 16, 2002

We got the long stick

It's the luck of the draw here as far as the rooms go. Our party had 3 rooms and we had the best room by far. Spacious corner with great light. The others werent so fortunate, but nobody was miserable. We thought it was a great value, can't beat the location, Scala's was wonderful and the staff were all eager to please it seemed.

By tara

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Aug 8, 2002

Don't judge a hotel by its lobby

might have been nice when it was first around - definately needs improvements. It felt dirty and was dark and dingy. The lobby was the best part of the entire experience.

By Sue

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Feb 8, 2002

Great Location - Great Value

We almost cancelled our reservations after reading some of the comments about this hotel - but are sure glad we didn't. The room was smallish - but this is to be expected in a wonderful old hotel. The bathroom was also small but adequate - again, are we really expecting spacious? Plus,the charming handles on the wall made us chuckle! The service was warm, friendly and efficient on all counts. And the starlight room at the top, the fabulous restaurant

"Scala" next door, the view of the city, the cablecar at the doorstep, Union Square across the street, Moscone Center within walking distance and a great price (we paid $89 with on-line special) were all bonuses that I think are unbeatable. If you want luxury - pay $300 and stay somewhere else. This was a bargain and we appreciated the charm and friendliness of a wonderful old hotel!

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Jul 30, 2001

Fun Boutique Hotel With All the Comforts of Home

From the friendly Beefeater Doormen and staff to the funky Victorian lobby, you feel right at home. Yes, the room was a bit small and the bathroom even smaller, but the cheerful decor and plentiful "honor bar" were quite welcoming. Great location and the Starlight Lounge was a surprise treat for live jazz.

By Eric

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Apr 2, 2001

Doormen Good, Rooms are Way too small

Stayed here Feb 01. Reasonable price and nice lobby. The doormen were very helpful. Initially got a corner room, strange layout and very small, bathroom way too small. Asked for diff room and the desk clerk was helpful, but new room was still small. No repeat visits for me.

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Mar 31, 2001

slept like a sardine at the drake!

When we first walked into the Drake we were impressed with the lobby. The room was so tiny we could hardly spend any time in there because we were so cramped. The coincierge was very helpful BEFORE we arrived when I called to make restauraunt reservations. When we arrived and requested other assistance, he was very snooty! We decided to just figure things out on our own. The price was great, but on our next trip I think we'll try some place else.

By Kathy

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Jan 17, 2001

Great Location - poor accomodations

As first time visitors in San Fracisco, the Sir Francis Drake was a welcoming sight. The doormen were great, the cable cars were exciting and fun. The room was so tiny though, and the bathroom was laughable. There was no way two people could even stand in the bathroom at the same time. Service was average (inside the hotel), as said before bell men were great). The desk clerks were bored, not friendly at all. But the location of the hotel - couldn't

beat it. Eat breakfast at Sears, across the street. Fun, fast and great coffee.

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By Paula

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Oct 2, 2000

Don't Recommend The Drake

The Drake's hotel lobby was beautiful - the rooms are very small - not Clean as a Whistle either. Location was great - and the food at the Cafe on the corner was also great. Would recommend staying somewhere else for the money.

By Lori

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Sep 9, 2000

Looking for service? Don't go here

Remember your first day at work? Well, at this hotel, it seems like everyone's first day. Your stay will be fine if you don't have any problems. Have a problem? That will send everyone into a tailspin. I was with a huge group for a wedding at the hotel. NoOne at the hotel recognized the grooms last name the whole weekend. I will give credit where it is due--the bellmen--guys dressed up outside (mario in particular-great!)

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