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by Foxboro Marmot
January 14, 2005
The York is a small hotel on Nob Hill, built in 1922 and extensively renovated in 1995. Three rather hilly blocks from a cable-car line, six blocks uphill from Union Square, it seemed convenient, yet away from the tourist mainstream. It was a pleasure to walk up Sutter Street unmolested after passing the panhandler gauntlet around Union Square.
To top it all off, the hotel appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Vertigo (as the ‘Empire Hotel’), and we were staying in room 501, the Kim Novak room. In Vertigo, Jimmy Stewart, standing on the other side of Sutter Street, sees Kim Novak look out the window of room 501! It was our brush with Hollywood glamour, circa 1956! And yet….
Our bow-front room was clean and spacious, with its own character, instead of the efficient cookie-cutter design of a modern hotel. It was tastefully decked out with pale terracotta-colored walls and pale green carpet, decorated with posters and stills from Vertigo—but a bit stuffy. Ah, no air-conditioning? No problem! There were three windows; we opened all three.
It was only later, when we tried to sleep, that we realized how noisy Sutter Street was, with buses, cars with screechy brakes, and in the morning, garbage trucks. Closing the windows made it marginally quieter, but much hotter!
A continental breakfast served in the sparking marble foyer was included. The breakfast buffet was close to being good but fell short. Juice, coffee, tea, muffins, croissants, and fruit should have been fine, and yet… the baked goods must have been bought in bulk from Sam’s Club instead of from a nearby bakery. Once emptied, the fruit bowl stayed empty longer than necessary before being restocked.
The price for a double averaged out to $128 per night, including taxes. It was so very close to being a fine place to stay, but the little things seemed a bit off. When booking a reservation at the York, insist on a room at the back, away from the street. It might be enough to move this hotel’s rating up a notch.
From journal Return to San Francisco
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