Fairmont San Francisco a class apart

Steeped in history, the Fairmont San Francisco is the ideal business retreat for the executive traveller.
The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Courtesy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Courtesy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

The Fairmont San Francisco is a charming building that strikes the perfect balance between elegance and luxury.

This hotel is steeped in history – it was damaged by fire as a result of a devastating earthquake in 1906, a year before its opening.

But the hotel’s real claim to fame came after it hosted international statesmen from 50 countries in 1945 to draft the United Nations Charter.

I am told that starting with Harry Truman, every US president has stayed in the Fairmont.

I went to the Garden Room, a hall in the hotel, and tried to imagine where pens were passed to sign a treaty among hundreds of delegates that would mark the beginning of a new world order. It felt like a privilege.

History aside, my experience at the hotel was a privilege in itself. Overall the service was first-class, apart from the brief disappearance of concierge when we checked in. It meant dragging my bags into the hotel myself.

The room, which was on the spacious side, offered beautiful views of San Francisco city. As a product junkie, I was thrilled when I saw Le Labo toiletries in the bathroom.

If you need to work in the room, there is a desk and plenty of sockets for charging. Wi-Fi is not included in the package and costs just over US$13 for the whole day. But the friendly staff quickly offered to let me fill out an application for the Fairmont President’s Club – a membership club for guests – that offers free W-Fi.

The business centre came with all the staples – computers, meeting rooms, free tea and coffee. And when you head out of the hotel for meetings, there is a suit press in the room to ensure you look groomed.

Arriving from the Etihad flight at 8am, I ordered breakfast as I missed my chance to eat while sleeping on the flight. I was thrilled by the feast I received. The scrambled eggs were perfectly fluffy and I also enjoyed a plate of mixed fruits.

Furthermore, the hotel provides easy access to the Financial District, Union Square, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Just make sure you take a taxi, as San Francisco is far too hilly to stroll around.


I have a few hours to spare and would like to go shopping. Where’s the best place to go?

Union Square, right in the centre of the city, has a Macy’s, Tiffany & Co, and a Bvlgari. Behind that street is Westfield San Francisco Centre, a giant shopping mall with two flagship department stores: Bloomingdales and Nordstrom.

I can’t visit San Francisco for work and not see some tourist attractions. Where should I go?

Go to Alcatraz, a former fort to protect San Francisco during the Gold Rush, before becoming a military prison. In the 1930s, the prison was handed over to the US Department of Justice. Some of the most-dangerous criminals in history, such as Al Capone, spent time here.

My business is looking to set up an exhibition. Where are some good venues?

Head to the Moscone Centre, the biggest convention centre in San Francisco, which has more than 992,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space.

How long is the flight from Abu Dhabi and what is the time difference?

Etihad has started daily flights to San Francisco, which take about 16 hours. There’s a 12-hour time difference between Abu Dhabi and San Francisco.

Any faux pas I should avoid?

Locals will express distaste if you refer to San Francisco as “San Fran” or “Frisco”.


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Published: December 29, 2014 04:00 AM


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