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Hotel Picks in San Francisco

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by Mark Glass 

Mark Glass is a journalist trapped in a lawyer's body, balancing his practice with
writing and broadcasting on travel, entertainment and professional sports.  

Visitors to what may be America’s most picturesque, entertaining city tend to choose hotels within a few pockets of attraction: Union Square offers a wide range of prices and concepts; Fisherman’s Wharf caters more to the budget-conscious; Nob Hill features the grand masters for the upscale crowd (The Fairmont and Mark Hopkins). So here are a couple of new discoveries for divergent tastes - the high-rise Argent near the Convention Center; and the intimate  Majestic, between Japan Town and Pacific Heights.

For those who remember when the area south of Market Street was nothing but semi-abandoned, dilapidated warehouses, take another look. Business is booming by day or night with retail activity, nightclubs and museums sprouting up at a furious pace. And that’s not even counting Pacific Bell Park, which finally gave sports fans an end to their years of suffering the climatic vagaries of Candlestick Park.

Adjacent to the Moscone Convention Center, and across from the Museum of Modern Art  is the newly-renovated 36-story Argent. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide wonderful views from each of its 667 rooms, and plenty of light - especially since it’s not abutted by other high-rises. As one would expect from its location, and its own capacious meeting facilities,  all the amenities the business traveler could desire are right in the room - dataports, two-line phones and all. But little touches of luxury elevate the experience for whatever reason you’re in town.

Public areas include a cloister-style garden on the back and side, providing a surprisingly insulated haven from the urban surroundings. Splendid artwork adorns the walls. In a few sitting areas, there are chess sets made from variously-sized clear crystal salt and pepper shakers. You really can tell which piece each is supposed to be.

In the spacious rooms, the Argent offers the best assortment of bed pillows one can find - something for all tastes. The top tissue in the box was folded into a flower. Tub/shower controls actually allow one to select the precise water temperature. Executive and Silver Key floors provide additional amenities. Some suites even come with telescopes, for guests to derive full benefit from the view.

The Majestic offers another concept of luxury - the intimacy of a small inn. The decor is a blend of styles from Victorian to the 1930s, with four-poster or canopy beds in each room. It’s on a block of Sutter Street that’s quietly residential, even though it’s only two blocks from Van Ness; and close to all forms of transportation. It’s restaurant - now called Perlot, but long lauded by locals as the Café Majestic - serves wonderful contemporary California cuisine; it’s bar features Dusty Daquiris, and is decorated with a fascinating collection of butterflies, for a unique visual experience. Guests can also enjoy complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres each evening in the two-tiered lobby.

But the Majestic’s greatest asset may be serenity. In a crowded city, it’s almost a retreat. That may be why celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage and Sharon Stone have chosen it. The cast of the recent Keanu Reeves film, Sweet November stayed there during the shooting. Bad movie. But guests ever since enjoy the benefit of in-room refrigerators that were installed for the occasion.

For reservations, or further information on these two fine options for your next visit: or 877-222-6699. or 800-869-8966

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Mark Glass is a Mark Glass is a freelance writer and broadcaster, based in St. Louis, covering travel, entertainment and professional sports for his readers and listeners. Mark was travel editor for "St. Louis Connoisseur", and now have that role for "Life in the Midwest", based in Indianapolis. For the last fifteen years, he's written and broadcast features on travel, entertainment and sports, while maintaining his law practice in the St. Louis area. (More about this writer.)


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