A Night at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco cover

A Night at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco


The doors to the eighth floor open from the elevator. The hallway of the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco is the color of cream, decorated with gold-framed photography and glittering sconces. A comfortable feeling of luxury is present, however, I don’t feel as though I might break something. Find your heart in San Francisco with a unique look at luxury.

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A Night at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Great Expectations

I have expectations. Who doesn’t when they travel to a new city? San Francisco had been the center of my conversations for weeks.

I had asked nearly everyone what I should do, where I should stay and what I should eat. The result was an overwhelming number of personal anecdotes that took me north of Sausalito, to a hole-in-the-wall eatery above a laundromat in Chinatown. Suffice it to say, after several days of traveling up the coast, I was exhausted and in no mood to entertain such friendly advice. What I really wanted was a cocktail.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Photo provided by the Ritz-Carlton.

Good afternoon, Miss Butler

The concierge behind a desk sits handsomely in a suit. I laugh uncomfortably, unsure of how he knows my name. In jest, I ask him.

“Because I must.”

It seems impossible to talk about San Francisco as a locale, a place to be, a place to visit. The City by the Bay and the stories it offers are transcendent, as though existing simultaneously betwixt millions of separate realities. The sum of San Francisco’s metaphysical equation looks like a kaleidoscope. Somewhere out there, Tony Bennett is looking for his heart, an artist paints a picture, a businessman gets ready for work—I find it all incredibly romantic, yet exhausting on my first trip here.

The Club Level Lounge

The Club Level Lounge

Photo provided by the Ritz-Carlton.

Service with a Smile

The club level of the Ritz-Carlton is alternatively constant. It provides a welcome sense of order, shelter and rejuvenation from the bustle of life just a few stories below.

I wave politely as I pass the concierge and head straight for the Club Lounge doused in wonderful afternoon sun. Dozens of brilliantly crafted edibles await, a sommelier is discussing a vintage and pouring wine, a small refrigerator has several bottles of cold beer. In a city where literally anything can happen, it’s nice to know that should I need another glass of Malbec to accompany my smelly plate of fine cheese, I can surely get it, and with a smile.

Contemporary Design

The food service inside this private lounge changes throughout the day: Breakfast, lunch, light appetizers before dinner, and evening desserts.

It’s complimentary for all Club-level guests and is a wonderful place to mingle with friends, make new acquaintances, and attempt to discuss the endless activities planned for an evening.

Inside my room, the calming neutral tones of good taste further relax my mood. The recent renovations were done respectfully to not overshadow the history of Nob Hill, nor discourage the reputation one might expect from the Ritz. White crown molding, classic fixtures and a deep, very deep, marble bathtub. Proof that contemporary design can coexist with tradition, if one cares to try.

Junior Suite

Junior Suite

Photo provided by the Ritz-Carlton.

Body and Soul

Less than 50 square miles define the borders of the second-most densely populated city in the United States.

The busy intersections, lengthy lines at famous attractions, and crowded nightlife can be overwhelming. Therefore, the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco has all the facilities one might need to exercise or rejuvenate the body or soul, including a fitness center, luxury spa and personal concierge services.

I press my little black dress, step into black stilettos and head to the place my soul needed most: Parallel 37.

Parallel 37

In a city known for its epicurean cuisine, the Ritz-Carlton stands proudly behind Parallel 37 as a dining destination worth noting to travelers and locals alike.

While waiting for my company, I enjoy a craft cocktail called 8th Street East. It’s prepared slowly with Hooker’s House Rye, Carpano Antica, Campari and burnt orange. I sip slowly, watching as fading light crawls through orange shades covering the windows. The day is about to end—quite deliciously.

Chef de Cuisine Michael Rotondo

Chef de Cuisine Michael Rotondo

Photo by Michelle Walker.

No Excuses

Chef de Cuisine Michael Rotondo asks if I have any dietary restrictions before he devises a tasting menu.

My response, and recommendation to anyone every in this situation, is complete abandonment. Don’t worry about carbs, gluten or strange meats. Allow the artist and the team to work, and I swear you will be dazzled.

The Perfect Pairing

The server opens a bottle of Lanson Rose Champagne to begin the meal, presented with delicate slices of tuna belly over lemon puree.

It’s aesthetically beautiful. My soul is at peace. The seaweed sorbet that rests over a salad of grilled octopus and garlic melts slowly as I taste Domaine Daulny Sancerre, a classic expression of Sauvignon Blanc from France.

In the fourth course, and in true abandonment, I delight in my first taste of sweetbread, prepared alongside game bird from South Africa, and paired with Merry Edwards Pinot Noir. A final course of antelope and rustic assortment of mushroom and pickled beet is the last savory note, accompanied by Hendry Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.

Pastry Chef Andrea Correa

Pastry Chef Andrea Correa

Photo by Kristen Loken

Grand Finish

Not to be outdone, pastry chef Andrea Correa presents a deconstructed cherry pie and pistachio crumble.

The cherries are in season and burst with each bite. I contemplate the meal in its entirety—California cuisine with unexpected global notes mixed with exciting techniques used to amaze taste and presentation. I leave happy and full, rested and lively after good conversation and extremely professional service.

Into the Night

Outside, the white and polished exterior of the luxury hotel hints at a San Francisco I will never know—the architecture belonging to days long since passed, repurposed by the Ritz Carlton to start something brand new.

An eager bellboy asks me where I’m headed. And as the door to a black Lincoln Navigator is opened for me, I remember, anything can happen.

“Take me somewhere fun.”

And off I went.