There is always something to look forward to, says the gal. Next time at Hotel Vitale San Francisco she will take a yoga mat to its Americano restaurant and lie on the timber floor to look up at the ceiling (see above photo). This is certainly a luxury hotel that has so many memorable points or USPs. You are offered a warm lavender-scented towel as you check-in, next to a bowl of polished apples (real). Outside your door, above the wood block with the room number on it, is a sprig of lavender (real). If you are lucky enough to have a front room, looking over Embarcadero, you look over San Francisco Bay to Yerba Bueuna island, enroute to Berkeley and Oakland: turn slightly right, to the double-decker Bay Bridge.
Room 716 has special memories in that it is a half-circle, with six big windows around that 180- degree circumference. While the shower and toilet are tucked away behind the hemisphere, the main room, which would be about 550 sq ft if it were square, includes the bathtub, which has grey open-net curtains if some degree of privacy is wanted. It was indeed a USP to be able to have a long, hot soak – the bathsalts were, naturally, lavender – looking out at the bridge. I had thoughtfully been offered, on arrival, an espresso or coffee maker if I wanted one, and my Mr Coffee, with sachets of Equator coffee, had come up in under ten minutes (this is a really thoughtful hotel, with coffee in the lobby available from 4.30 am, free ten-minute massages, and a 24/7 bijou gym where every piece of equipment seemed to be in full working order).
Vitale describes itself as an urban resort, and part of this obviously includes feeling part of the locale. The minibar specialises in California, say Anchor Steamboat Beer, as made in San Francisco since 1896, and, 2014 vintage, Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County. I have a mango lemon bar from Santa Barbara, a chocolate milk bar from TCHO here in San Francisco, and pistachio caramel corn, from the Bay area. As my good friend Bob Puccini said over dinner last night, San Francisco knows its food – we actually dined in Waterbar, a Pat Kuleto creation hanging right out over the water, 100 yards from the Vitale, and we started with a shared ceviche brilliantly served in a top-off sea urchin on a slate.
Breakfast was with Antoine Berberi, the Lebanese would-be banker who runs this highly- successful luxury hotel cum urban resort (and, in his capacity as regional boss of Commune, he looks after 15 other hotels too). I was almost feeling coffee-d to capacity after the pump pots available in the lobby, and my own Mr Coffee, but the breakfast coffee was just as good, and the yoghurt was, as listed, house made, and the wholewheat bread made the best toast I have had for ten days. And here is a plea to all you lovely hoteliers and food people in the great US of A. Why, when there are so many artisanal bakeries, and why, when you offer such an array of great breads at lunch and dinner, do you so often serve tasteless ‘brown toast’ at breakfast? But I digress. Antoine Berberi had to rush off, to attend the housekeeping meeting as he does every day, and I needed to get ready to climb Nob Hill. NOW WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW