Trip Report – Hilton San Francisco Union Square as a Diamond

With over 1,900 rooms available for booking, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square is not only the largest hotel in San Francisco, but one of the largest in the world.  It requires 60,000 HHonors points for a night, and rates can vary wildly depending on what is happening in San Francisco at the time.  I have seen rates at this property range from a low of $150/night up to in excess of $700/night.  Given that there are a number of Hilton options in San Francisco, including the Parc 55 San Francisco a mere 0.1 miles away, it is worthwhile to consider the positives and negatives of this property.  We recently stayed at the property and this was our Diamond experience.

hilton-sf-front

The main entrance to the property is on O’Farrell Street.  One of the main discoveries that we made while staying at the property (and also being told by friends who lived in San Francisco) is that the hotel is directly adjacent to the Tenderloin district, which has been called “San Francisco’s sketchiest district.”  A word to the wise: when staying at this hotel, do not walk directly west past Taylor Street unless it is the daytime and you know where you are headed.  I took a wrong turn walking back to the hotel one night from Market Street and certainly did not make that mistake again.  However, guests staying at the hotel should know that staying there felt completely safe and when you walked east or southeast of the property, you were fully among tourists and locals going about their daily lives.  It was a very sharp contrast between the haves and the have nots.

lobby-area

We had booked a 1 bedroom Classic King on a pre-paid rate for 3 nights.  The hotel was not sold out on the nights of our stay.  For online check-in, I was initially assigned a standard king room on the 20th floor.  As no upgrade was processed, despite my Hilton Diamond status, I did not complete the online check-in process at the time.  Per advice of other frequent travelers, I checked the online check-in option again the morning of my arrival and saw that I had been upgraded to a higher floor (28), but remained in a standard king room.  I did not complete this check in.

breakfast

The lobby area of the hotel had undergone a major (and recent) renovation, and all construction had been completed by January 2016.  There was not an Elite check-in desk, so I waited in line for approximately 5 minutes before a desk agent was free.  I was not welcomed as an Elite member, and no mention was made of a potential room upgrade.  However, I was provided with 6 breakfast vouchers (2 per room x 3 nights) for the Urban Tavern.

room4

I inquired as to the availability of any upgrades, and was rewarded with an upgrade to a Skyline View 1 king bed suite on the 36th floor!  At 495 square feet, there was more than enough room for us to spread ourselves out for the quick trip.

room1

It is important to note for future travelers to this property that these suites were located in the rooms directly adjacent to the elevators.  We did not hear any noise in the night, but if there were noisier guests on our floor, that could certainly have been an issue.

room5

room3

The bathrooms in the property were fairly standard, and it must be noted that the sliding door did not close properly.  Not much of an issue for us, but if you are making a visit to this hotel your first getaway with someone special, it may have created an uncomfortable situation.  We reported the door issue to engineering, but no one fixed it during our stay.

room2

What we found to be the most helpful in the suite was the seating area.  It made for a great place to enjoy take out dinners back at the hotel, and allowed us to unwind.  The best meal I have enjoyed in a while was at Burma Love in the Mission District.  In fact, we liked it so much that we tried the restaurant that Burma Love is a spin off from (Burma Superstar) the next night, but enjoyed our food from Burma Love more.

room6

The best part of this suite was the balcony with the view.  It was something beautiful to watch the fog in the mornings clear, and then the city light up in the evenings.  However, we did see a used cigarette butt on the balcony that stayed there for the duration of our stay.

breakfast1 breakfast2 breakfast3

The breakfast that was offered at the Urban Tavern was highly enjoyable, even without the upgrade to the hot breakfast items for an extra $10.  Each morning that we were at breakfast, there were between 5-10 other guests present, so it was not packed by any means.  However, we were always at breakfast when they opened at 6AM (we had not adjusted from EST yet!).  The only parts of the breakfast spread that those of us who did not opt up could not select from were scrambled eggs, bacon, 2 dim sum items, soup, and made to order omelettes.  Courtesy of FlyerTalk user ncSam, who took the 3 photos above of the breakfast spread, you can see just how terrific the options were for the continental breakfast.

powell

As the hotel was close by where I was attending a conference, it was an excellent location for my needs.  It is also located by the Powell St & Market St cable car turnaround point, where tourists were often gathered.  However, it is not near some of the more popular tourist destinations in San Francisco (e.g., Fisherman’s Wharf).  Given how small San Francisco really is, it is not a far of a walk.

All things considered, the property was an excellent value for the rate we paid.  There were some minor details that could be improved upon, but it is a property I would certainly return to again, if only for the continental breakfast for Diamonds that was excellent!

Comments

  1. I have stayed there as a Gold member, and their breakfast benefits for gold is different. Consist of $5 gift card to StarBucks in the lobby.

    • It is no longer a Starbucks! That went away in the recent renovations. It is still a coffee shop where Golds can get their breakfast items.

    • I did not. After a 5+ hour flight from the east coast, and the grumbling look on the front desk agent’s face when I asked about any upgrade, I did not push the matter further.

  2. most hiltons are crappy, just the way it is only exception I’ve seen so far that meets my standards Waldorf Amsterdam and hilton bomonti Istanbul which is almost like a Waldorf. other than that it’s rubbish. for sanfrancisco you get better value using bidding sites you can get good value around 70-80$ like Hyatt regency. I don’t think the Hilton is worth $150 to be honest.

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