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NPS loves San Francisco, and so did Bill Kimpton.

Morning view from 2007

Morning view from 2007

One super tragic side effect of the IHG buyout of Kimpton was a major defection of San Francisco properties from the chain. There are now two (count ’em two) Kimpton properties in town. There used to be twelve. And the whole thing fell apart over worker’s rights, which given the superior way Kimpton manages its people is terrible and ironic.

You know how we feel about Kimpton on this blog. We’re cheerleaders for the most part. (Oh sure, we get snarky when we have to, but that is how hotels improve.) Sadly, our loyalty is being tested in San Francisco. In fact, it was overtested all week.

The fact that we do have a Kimpton room at all during this week is nice (thanks to Mike Defrino’s major string pulling which we hugely appreciate), but what would be nicer is an upscale property and some adult supervision. There are elements of Kimpton design here at the Sir. D, but more needs doing (especially bathroom-wise). And real management/staff issues are clear after a few days on the property. I miss the SF Palomar. (A couple of visits to Mr Means at Dirty Habit made the pining worse.)

A last minute change in reservations due to rampant bday shenanigans was necessary, and it was not easy. But it got done. I flew into town late.

Check out this beautiful amenity

Check out this beautiful amenity

Having a mystery cocktail (??!) with some fancy fruit and cheese is a nice welcome.

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When you drink this mysterious elixer you may forget about the shower situation

When you drink this mysterious elixer you may forget about the shower situation

And the view at night is very much city in all directions from the 20th on a hill

And the view at night is very much city in all directions from the 20th on a hill

Kimpton style

Kimpton style

Sitting room 2007 suite

Sitting room 2007 suite

2007 has plenty of light and is nicely if not slightly shabbily appointed. All of the tables need to be replaced.

Table for work

Table for work

desk nook

desk nook

The sleeping part of the suite is a standard-issue room with a tiny bathroom that needs some more updating. The old tub is nice. What about a solid glass door on top of that? Nothing gets us quite as riled up here at NPS as a shower curtain! Down with shower curtains!!

This shower. No no no.

This shower. No no no.

Bedroom style

Bedroom style

2007 bed

2007 bed

NPS was already surly from the not-quite-up-to-par ride on Virgin America. We were dehydrated and there was no sparking water—anywhere—in the entire hotel.

For the record, we’re still dehydrated this morning. So we’re talking a very low three shower head situation for Sir D. Which, while average, is a low mark indeed for a Kimpton property. If anything the rating went down instead of up as the week progressed. The difference in management between the Sir D approach and many other properties is like night and day. There is much learning to do here by the staff.

Eventually (thanks to Lauren) the water memo arrived and a case of water appeared. Which was nice. But typical for this property there was no note or joke or apology or anything human from management in the room, just a plastic shrink-wrapped case of water plonked unceremoniously on the beaten up table.

To pile on the management misery, attempts to raise anyone downstairs in the lobby Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful for over an hour. I must have called 5 times with well over 100 collective rings. After corporate/social media read the deriding tweets, a surly front desker called up too late to get the things done that needed doing before it was out for the evening. Excuses won’t do it you guys. Inner circle guest expect better service. And for the record, it is YOUR damn fault you did not answer the phone, not mine.

While we’re complaining, we should also note for the record that the starlight lounge plays bass heavy music late into the evening. If the young ‘un thump bothers you, do not stay on the 20th floor.

So lets review.

Did a guest reserve a car to the airport? Let us know that actually happened.

Did someone call down to the desk from an expensive suite? Answer the damn phone.

There was no sparking water in the hotel one evening? Send someone out to get some NOW. Deliver it.

Did a guest turn 50? Apparently not at this property. Hell, even the restaurants figured this one out.

The final straw for the Sir D in my book is location, which in terms of my standard SF week is too far off the beaten path. I sure hope Kimpton finds an upscale property in SF soon. This one is off the list.

On a lighter and more fun note, here is other useful data about the SF trip, and its many delightful times:

  • Breakfast at Mels’ Diner is always great. Long line today during RSA week.
  • Lunch near the Moscone must always be Fang
  • Need to host an event? NPS recommends Forgery
  • Late night dinner at Bouche
  • Lunch at Cafe Claude is always fantastic (but guard your food)
  • Coffee and conversation go together at Cafe de la presse
  • Annabell’s is no longer, but Keystone is nice
  • Perbacco remains a superior location for getting some business done over lunch
  • Dirty Habit rules and Brian Means is at the top of his cocktail game.
  • Might as well skip the Sip Bar if the Hancock room in the back is occupied.
  • State Bird Provisions is super fantastic.

This just in. The cocktail mystery solved. The drink is La Perla designed by Jacques Bezuidenhout himself
1.5 oz Partida resposado tequila
.75 oz manzanilla Sherry
.75 oz pear liqueur
Stir/ coupe/ lemon peel

The Ten Year Itch by Brian Means
2 oz bourbon (henry mckenna 10 yr – 100 proof)
.5 oz kalani coconut
.5 oz orgeat
.75 lemon
1/2 egg white
dry shake ingredients, then wet shake, strain into coupe, garnish with peychaud’s

And now we close by looking down on the Westin…

Beautiful San Francisco

Beautiful San Francisco

The Palomar San Francisco is one of my favorite Kimptons. Mostly because the staff is incredibly friendly and fun. They know me. That makes a huge difference when you travel too much, and makes a hotel feel like home away from home. (Thanks in particular to Sara Madanat for help with a tricky breakfast meeting.)

Like all buildings with tons of traffic, maintenance and the occasional facelift are essential. For the next 2-3 weeks, the Palomar lobby is getting a complete makeover. Temporarily, the lobby is located way up in room 902. The Fifth floor restaurant is also being completely redesigned with a new concept and a new bar! Jacques assures me it will be great. I am psyched to see the result. Sadly that means having some patience, which I am not very good at. Now being patient…

But the Palomar is still at the top of its game in my book. I was greeted by name, got my favorite room during a very crowded week, and found this when I walked in.

A fantastic welcome package includes flowers.

A fantastic welcome package includes flowers.

Room 830 will do me! I like some space when I am here all week for the RSA show. Ahhhh.

The bedroom is connected to the living room.

The bedroom is connected to the living room.

The bathroom has a nice glass shower and one of those giant tubs that I never seem to use.

This shower is not plastic.

This shower is not plastic.

This tub never gets used.

This tub never gets used.

There’s even a fish. I think it may be walter, but nobody said this time.

Walter?  Is that you?

Walter? Is that you?

Not only is this an insanely busy week, it’s also birthday week here in noplasticshowers land.

Cupcakes and prosecco.

Cupcakes and prosecco.

Restaurants of note: Heirloom Cafe, Perbacco, Slow Club

And a warning. Old favorite Cafe de la Presse has gone to the dogs. Avoid (even if your staying at the Triton).

Annabell’s, right next door to the Palomar remains a stalwart even though they have completely changed up their menu. Their bar is excellent. My favorite cocktail there is the Shift Ender, designed by Scott Campbell.

Shift Ender
1.5 oz Jameson
.5 oz Canton
3 dashes of orange bitters
stir in a Collins glass with ice. top with 1.5 oz ginger beer.
float with .5 oz Fernet Branca on top
top the drink with two cherries on a skewer and a generous slice of lemon peel expressed and dropped in

Shift ender at Annabell's

Shift ender at Annabell’s

About the only thing that needs work other than the reconstruction is the internet. Too many geeks make the internet suck during this week. That is bad. Kinda like not having oxygen.

Five showerheads to wash off the construction dust and some patience for the SF Palomar. Rock on you guys.