As I’ve mentioned recently, this summer my husband and I will be spending one night in San Francisco (the final leg of our fancy whirlwind trip to South Pacific) Last time we stayed in the city, I chose the dumpiest hotel possible, with a “massage” parlor across the street. But it was cheap, and San Francisco hotel market is anything but cheap because real estate prices are insanely high.
Fortunately, thanks to miles and points hobby, this time I can have my cake and eat it too. Enter annual certificate from Chase IHG credit card, redeemable at any IHG property (as long as there is award availability).
When we travel with kids, I look for large rooms and some sort of breakfast in the morning. When it’s just me and my husband, the size of rooms isn’t a huge swaying factor, though I obviously prefer to sleep in something larger than a closet. Complimentary breakfast is nice, but I’m not opposed to paying for room service if the property is vastly superior to the one that offers free food.
Since I’m rarely in San Francisco and since it is my favorite city in US, I wanted something special. Sure, we will be super tired from jet lag, but still. It may be only one night, but I want to make it count. Hopefully, my search will help some of you guys as well.
I narrowed it down to three choices:
1) Kimpton Sir Francis Drake hotel
Kimpton properties just recently became bookable via IHG points and certificates, which is good news. The award rate of this hotel is 55,000 points, and paid rate is $250-$400 per night.
Pros: Historic hotel located near Union Square, with rooms that don’t look “cookie-cutter”
Cons: Mixed reviews on TripAdvisor that indicate that hotel is past its prime and in serious need of remodel, standard rooms are only 150-190 square feet, urban destination fee of $29 (hate those!)
2) Intercontinental San Francisco
It costs 70,000 points per night, and paid rates hover around $300-400.
Pros: Relatively new property with few issues and good location in Union Square, many Platinum IHG members seem to get free upgrades
Cons: Looks bland and unexciting, typical for a chain hotel
3) Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco
It costs 70,000 points per night, and paid rates hover around $250-$350.
Pros: Historic landmark hotel at the crest of Nob Hill, has Top of the Mark restaurant with amazing views of the city
Cons: Mixed reviews on Trip Advisor saying the hotel is in desperate need of refurbishment
Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco
I’m a sucker for old historic hotels, despite the shabbiness and other common issues. It’s fun to get transported back in time, even if only for one night. Plus, I bet the current rooms are much more comfortable now than they were a 100 years ago.
What about using Hyatt Explorist club certificate?
Like many of you, I’ve recently been able to take advantage of MLife status match (again). That means that we currently have 4 Club lounge certificates that will expire in February 2019. And there happens to be Hyatt Regency San Francisco where I can use one of these certs. That would mean saving money on both dinner and breakfast the following day. The views from the lounge are quite impressive, too.
Unfortunately, the cost is 20,000 Hyatt points, which is a lot. Plus, to me it makes more sense to use IHG certificate that has an expiration date attached rather than Hyatt points that can be utilized at a later date. I’m afraid that I’ll be pressing against the deadline and burn it just for the sake of burning it. And that would defeat my goal of saving money on travel I actually need.
Additionally, Hyatt Regency San Francisco looks kind of plain, there is just nothing special about it aside from Club lounge views. Then again, Hyatt is very consistent when it comes to quality, and consistency isn’t a bad thing when you are dead tired. But I just feel like using IHG cert makes more sense in this case.
While I would have a hard time justifying spending $300 on a hotel room, using a certificate from IHG card that costs me only $49 to renew is truly a no-brainer. It’s one of the reasons this card continues to be a keeper and one I recommend to pretty much anyone. Even if you use your certificate at a basic hotel near an airport, it’s still a smokin’ hot deal if you think about it.
We will have to pay for dinner and breakfast, but I’m cool with it. Besides, I prefer to eat out at a local restaurant, so if we are not too tired, that’s what we’ll do. San Francisco, here we come!
Readers, what hotel would you choose? Am I crazy to give up the club upgrade at the Hyatt?
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Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.
We paid $185 after taxes for a night during the weekend after Thanksgiving 2016 for a night at the Mark Hopkins, and I wasn’t impressed. Typical historic high end hotel. Lobby is impressive. Room wasn’t. Would be amazing if you got a view, but good luck with that using a certificate.
The Top of the Mark *is* worth visiting. We headed up just for dessert during the evening, and it didn’t disappoint.
Also everything is down. Down, down, down. Which is fine. Until you need to return and you’re walking 20% grade for like 5 blocks.
Ian, thank you so much for the feedback! What you said is in line with what I’ve read on TripAdvisor. To be honest, I doubt we will be walking a whole lot after our 14-hour flight from Sydney, so the hill location doesn’t matter. We will have a very limited amount of time, and most of it will probably be spent sleeping. Sadly. I definitely look forward to checking out Top of the Mark bar. It looks nice.
My wife and I stayed a couple years ago. I would say Ian is exactly right but also add the bed was super comfortable!
@David Sounds great! A comfortable bed is much more important than fancy room furnishings.
Leana – I would pick the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins as well. I’m a sucker for historic hotels as well; that’s why I desperately wanted to stay at The Fairmont (so glad we did). It’s worth it for a beautiful lobby and location in the historic buildings. If it’s just a regular hotel, then size of room is key.
@Stephanie I wish the Fairmont card would stick around a bit longer! I would have loved to use the cert at their San Francisco property.
I did the Mark Hopkins last year for my free night. The nostalgia was fun but the hotel is so so. Definitely hit the top of the Mark for that view!
@DW Thanks for your input! The bar at the top is what sealed the deal. I just hope we can stay awake to enjoy it.
Points Adventure says
Too bad Harbor Court and Hotel Palomar are no longer with Kimpton. They were my 2 favorites in SF. There are great views of city from Mark Hopkins. Enjoy
@Points Adventure Yeah, the current Kimpton properties in SF seeemed inferior to IC hotels. Plus, they all seem to add that ridiculous destination charge ( aka resort fee) to the bill. A horrible new trend in hotel industry!
mitch (@mitchwebb) says
I recommend also walking directly across the street to the Fairmont and having a drink in the Tonga room. Fun throw back to the Tiki lounges of the 60’s.
@Mitch Thank you so much for the recommendation! I will definitely try to go there.