The Andrews Hotel in San Francisco is a charming, European-style hotel in the city's theater and shopping district; Union Square is just steps from the front door. And the small size — just forty-eight rooms on seven floors — allows for friendly service.
In a city filled with posh and chic hotels, the charm of St Andrews hotel is its atmosphere of informality. In a sea of corporate hotels, it's a haven of local charm. Breakfast can be carried back to your bed on trays from hallway buffets. Each room is individually decorated in floral chintz with a desk, armchair, and free WIFI access. And, how many hotels have you stayed in that began life as a Turkish bath for men?
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The Andrews Hotel is in an historic building, constructed in 1905 just a year before the great earthquake and fire. Enter the lobby to see a stately grandfather clock, well-stocked bookshelves and club chairs. The restored original cage elevator-lift is one way to get to your room, or you could take the stately white banister staircase. Guest rooms are pleasant and homey with white-painted iron beds, lacy curtains, and old-fashioned floor lamps.
What we like about the Andrews Hotel are all the extras — high-speed WIFI is free (unusual for many hotels) and is available in the guest rooms as well as the lobby. Continental breakfast is included and is served on every floor. During the day, there are free beverages in the lobby. In the evening, a free glass of wine is served to guests at the neighboring Fino Ristorante & Bar. All the rooms have fresh flowers.
The Petite Suite is the largest room, despite its name, with a king bed, a separate sitting room, and a refrigerator stocked with free water and sodas. A Queen-Anne-style curved glass bay window overlooks Post Street.
The Sunny Bay King is located on a bright, sunlit corner overlooking Post Street. It also has a king size bed, sitting area, ceiling fan, and bay windows, plus a fully-stocked refrigerator with free beverages.
The Corner King is just what it sounds like — situated in the corner with two windows for a delightful cross breeze and the same amenities as the other suites. Other guest rooms are categorized into Queen, Twin Beds, or Cozy Double. Each has a full bath or shower, ceiling fan, writing desk, and television.
The Andrews Hotel began life as the Sultan Turkish Baths. "Dedicated to the comforts of men," read an ad in the September 1907 local newspaper. Completed just months before the great earthquake of 1906, 624 Post Street was a Class A structure with a sturdy steel frame and therefore suffered very little damage. However, the fire after the earthquake did damage the lobby.
Once the lobby was repaired, the Sultan Turkish Baths, where gentlemen could bathe and relax, was back in business. As a full-service business, the Sultan Baths featured a tiled hot room, massage room, a chiropractor, a barber, and a restaurant and bar on the main level. Finally, on the sixth and seventh floors, gentlemen could rent one of the small apartments. Not surprising, the establishment had an unsavory reputation.
The Turkish bath for men was popular in the Victorian era, introduced by a British diplomat who had travelled through extensively through Moorish countries. A Turkish bath is a multi-stage cleansing regime that starts in a heated room much like a sauna. A second session in an even hotter room is followed by a rinse with cool water, a full body wash and massage.
Back to San Francisco — in 1919, several floors of the Baths were converted into hotel rooms. The restaurant was modernized into a soda fountain and a lunch counter. In 1928 the last Sultan Bath customer was served and the building was completely remodeled into a hotel. It became an office building in the 1940s and a youth hostel in the 1970s. At one time it was home to The China Doll restaurant, which featured an aquarium that spanned an entire wall.
In 1981, a San Franciscan named Harry Andrews bought the building and refurbished it to its original Victorian splendor, Harry christened it the Andrews Hotel in honor of his grandfather. (Or perhaps himself!)
Next door to the hotel's lobby is the Fino Italian restaurant. The arched windows, high ceilings and blazing fireplace make it an ideal romantic place to dine. In fact, Fino Ristorante & Bar was named by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the ten most romantic restaurants in the city. Fino was visited by Michelle Obama and her daughters in 2009. In case you're wondering, the former first lady ordered prawns with ravioli and paid for the bill personally.
The classic Italian menu features the traditional dishes you'd expect. We recommend the crispy calamari with marinara sauce, and the bruschette con pancetta with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, basil, avocado and fresh mozzarella. The gamberi piccante is a generous serving of giant prawns with onions, bell peppers tossed with fresh linguine.
And for dessert? It's a choice between their famous tiramisu, or Chocolate Fino, a raspberry-chocolate concoction topped with chocolate custard and finished with a sugar glaze. If you're more of a lemon dessert person, try the lemon and strawberry sorbet with raspberry sauce. If you're after a fruit-based dessert, choose the pera con vino rosso — fresh bartlett pears that have been poached in red wine with a touch of cloves, cinnamon and topped with whipped cream.
• 624 Post Street (two blocks from Union Square)
• Neighborhood — Union Square
Union Square Hotels
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• The Andrews Hotel…
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