Just five years ago, the thought of visiting San Francisco repulsed me. All I knew of visiting the city is that you would only see homeless folks and human feces on the ground and maybe an occasional needle lying on the ground. On a visit in 2017, that was all true. My wife and I witnessed it and were disgusted by it.
That first visit back in 2017, was our first visit to San Francisco in some time. We were there for a music event. We soon realized to see the trance and progressive music artists that we enjoy, a genre new to us in 2017, that we were going to have to regularly travel to San Francisco. We also knew that if San Francisco was going to be a regular destination for us, we were going to have to find a hotel that we felt comfortable at, in a safe place, and a place with nice views of the city and affordable, and close to the music venues we were attending.
Staying at the InterContinental San Francisco
Early in 2020 before the pandemic hit, we found our hotel, and that is the InterContinental San Franciso on Howard and 5th streets. We marveled at the beauty of the hotel and were instantly appreciative of the staff. Once we got to our room we were simply stunned by the view of the city and the Bay from wall to wall, floor to ceiling windows! Simply stunning! Room service and valet parking have been unavailable until recently. Valet parking is now available, but not room service just yet, so we would have to go down to get food at Bistro 888 and we could either eat at the bar (with proof of vaccination) or bring the food up to our room.
Throughout 2020, music events in San Francisco were happening, but at a limited capacity and they all had to be outdoors. As we progress through 2021, more events are happening and we can now attend indoors. We are now regulars at the InterContinental and we know the staff and they know us. It is akin to hosting a family reunion of sorts. When you are a regular at ANY hotel, you do receive perks. We always book for a higher floor to get a wide span of the city and typically now when we check-in, they will routinely ask if we want to upgrade at little or no cost.
What is the cost?
Staying at the InterContiental costs anywhere between $180-$300 depending on the time of year, and ultimately what room you want. These are weekend rates as we always visit on the weekends. Valet parking is steep at $70 per day. A parking garage is right behind the hotel on Mission Street, and parking for a full day is $40. Is the extra $30 for valet worth it? Yes, it is more convenient and you can get your car as many times as you want throughout the day with valet parking, but typically when we park in the garage, the car will be there for the day as we will either walk or rideshare to the music venue, and as far as eating, we stick to the hotel, but lately, we have been venturing out to restaurants close to the hotel. With valet parking, yes, your car will be safe, with that said, the many times that we have parked in the adjoining garage, we have had no problems and I have not witnessed busted out windows in other cars. If you do park in the garage, take your parking ticket with you. Do not leave it in the car, and when you exit the garage, go to the pay station on ground level on the Mission Street side. That is easier than paying at the parking gate as you exit.
A few tips for you if you choose the InterContinental:
- Write down the directions. When driving in downtown San Francisco sometimes, your GPS mapping gets weird because all the tall buildings block the GPS. I know, it's the "tech" capital of the world, but it is a thing.
- If you are driving from the Bay Bridge, once directions get you on Howard Street, stay in the second from the left lane because once you hit 3rd Street, you have to make a right, and then you will be backtracking. Once you are past 3rd Street, you are good.
- There is a breezeway you pull in to check in. From there the staff will ask if you want valet parking or to park yourself and they will give you instructions and of course will offer to take your luggage up. Please TIP!
- You can dine at the hotel either at Bistro 888 or at "Luce" which is their fine dining restaurant. We haven't yet tried "Luce" as it just reopened. We have also walked to SF Pizza right behind the hotel on Mission Street. SF Pizza is on the ground level of the parking garage. We have also dined across the street on Mission, "Soma Restaurant and Bar." Both restaurants are wonderful!
- There is a population of homeless folks in the area. They mostly stick to Mission Street, so I would not venture too far away from the InterContinental at night by myself.
The more we are staying in San Francisco, the more and more we are getting out and exploring the city. There is more to San Francisco than just the homeless (unhoused neighbors) and feces on the street. We are learning with each visit where it is safe to go, and areas we should avoid.
Do yourself a favor, and stay at the InterContinental San Francisco, and when staying there, get out and explore. We certainly are.