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February 11, 2011
March 11, 2008
July 5, 2004
Located three blocks from Union Square, the Mark Twain bills itself as the "affordable alternative" in an area which can be quite pricy. Of the hotels I visited, this was indeed the most reasonably priced of the more "standard" variety of accommodations and a good choice for families.
The Mark Twain, built in 1948, looks like a fairly conventional hotel, with its small, comfortable but not particularly elegant lobby, but it has a notorious history. In 1949, the police broke down the door of Room 203 to arrest Billie Holiday, the renowned jazz singer, as she attempted to flush $50 worth of heroin down the toilet. A plaque by the door commemorates the infamous incident. Its namesake, however, is the plainspoken American writer who lived in the city during the heady Gold Rush days.
At the moment, the Mark Twain is somewhat dated, still bearing the marks of its previous Ramada Inn membership, with rust-colored floral quilted bedspreads set off by butter-yellow walls with white trim. It will soon be beginning a three-phase renovation which will transform it into a boutique hotel emphasizing the Mark Twain connection by painting quotations of the author along the top of the walls and adding Mark Twain books and pictures to the décor. The quilts will be replaced with white down comforters and boutique-style linens.
Rooms were quiet and spacious and closets were very roomy; the king room I saw had an enormous closet. Window coverings are wide-slatted white shutters. Bathrooms were also good-sized and, if not luxurious, with their yellow-and-red checkered tile floors at least had some character. All rooms are outfitted with Nintendo, internet access, safes, and irons and ironing boards.
The hotel has a fitness center and a bar and offers concierge, laundry, and dry-cleaning services. The attached Sultan Restaurant serves excellent Indian food in the evening; an American breakfast is served in the morning. Breakfast may be included with your room; ask when you reserve.
Rooms cost $95-$125.
From journal San Francisco: Union Square Hotel Guide