Hotel Whitcomb.  in San Francisco, California

Hotel Whitcomb

in San Francisco, California

Hotel Whitcomb Photo © Nathan Rupert

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Hotel Whitcomb

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Hotel Whitcomb, South of Market Neighborhood, San Francisco, California - Hotel Whitcomb
Hotel Whitcomb, South of Market Neighborhood, San Francisco, California - Hotel Whitcomb. Photo by Ken Lund
Hotel Whitcomb is as much a part of San Francisco's fabled history as any other building or structure. Set in the artsy section of the city off Market Street in the Theater District, the hotel is across the street from the famed Orpheum Theater (San Francisco) (Wikipedia Article) and is a true must-see when in the city.


Hotel Whitcomb is a historic masterpiece that dates back to 1910. The hotel was built as the city was recovering from the infamous earthquake of 1906 that devastated San Francisco and left much of it in ashes and rubble. In fact, the hotel served as the city hall until 1916 while the city was being rebuilt. The site officially opened as a hotel in 1917. Today, guests of Hotel Whitcomb now stay in areas, albeit renovated and updated areas, that were once the offices of government officers including Supreme Court judges. You can still visit the jail cells in the hotel basement that once housed the city's criminals.

The first thing you notice when you step through the hotel doors is the lofted cathedral ceilings. The hotel, though retrofitted for safety and security, has managed to keep its romantic and luxurious turn-of-the-century elegance. The Victorian-themed gem boasts marble columns and floors, extravagant and rare Janesero wood panels, Tiffany glass, shining brass, and genuine Austrian crystal chandeliers. The grand lobby truly takes you back to a better time when elegance and grandeur were favored over make-your-own-waffle areas.

During its heyday, the hotel hosted concerts and events that were nationally broadcast from the extravagant Whitcomb Ballroom. The hotel's massive parquet dance floor is still one of the largest to be found in the nation.

Hotel Whitcomb - Hotel
Hotel Whitcomb. Photo by Sean Campbell


Entering the grand lobby is enough to make you realize why this hotel is such a treasure. Just sitting in the lobby surrounded by the opulent interiors will make you gaze around in wonder.

Hotel updates have included adding a (thankfully unobtrusive) Starbucks coffee bar, but you can still treasure the hotel's true history in the Victorian wonder, “The Tavern”. The gorgeous bar features a stained glass ceiling and elegant décor true to the period.

A self-guided tour of the hotel takes you through well-kept hallways that still maintain their original charm and character. The views of the city from the upper windows are marvelous and the decorations and ambiance is truly something worth seeing.

There are currently 460 guest rooms and 12 parlor suites ready to sweep guests back in time. There is also a elegant penthouse suite. Eight meeting rooms are available for business or events, and a fitness center is ready to help keep you in shape.


 - Hotel
Hotel Whitcomb. Photo by Frederik De Buck
Should you desire to do more than look around and take in the magnificent history of one of San Francisco's most hallowed sites, a stay at Hotel Whitcomb is certainly an option. Each of the 460 guest rooms feature craftsmanship from years-gone-by with high ceilings and amazing views of the city. While the rooms maintain their historic charm, they have been updated with modern amenities such as air conditioning, premium bedding, flat-screen televisions, and WiFi Internet.

The 12 thematic parlor suites each have a different feel. From the Fred and Ginger suite with its charming living room and dining room to the Barbary Coast suite with its 4-poster bed and wet bar; each themed room offers dramatic views of the city and luxurious comfort. The penthouse Governor's Suite offers the best views of the city.


Within the hotel, Florinda's Market Street Grill is an award-winning restaurant specializing in culinary fare ranging from fresh seafood and pasta to perfect steaks and Asian fusion.

The Tavern provides an intimate setting for meeting friends or colleagues over a cocktail or glass of wine. The Victorian-themed bar offers a great wine selection, an extensive bar, tapas, and a delightful Happy Hour.

If you are looking to get out, the hotel is set in the Theater District on Market Street next to the trendy and posh Soma and Hayes Valley restaurants. It is also on the route of San Francisco's famous cable cars and only a short ride to the famed Ghirardelli Square (Wikipedia Article) or Fisherman's Wharf, each with a plethora of exceptional dining experiences.


The Hotel Whitcomb enjoys the honor of being listed in the Historic Hotels of America, a collection of more than 110 inns, hotels and boutique properties across the United States. A handful of these hotels are also on another legendary list – a list of haunted hotels.

While nobody is certain just how many ghosts reside at the hotel, nobody can deny the odd sounds and flickering lights. While you may write it off as old age and questionable maintenance, the city inspectors would certainly disagree, and old wiring wouldn't explain items being mysteriously moved or the phantom touch so many guests have felt during their stay.

Do remember that this is an historic hotel and not a new upscale, trendy establishment.

Getting There

Hotel Whitcomb is located on Market Street in San Francisco. It can be accessed by cable car, and is also only a few steps from the MUNI station. The BART station is a short walk away and the hotel is only 6 blocks from Union Square.

From the San Francisco International Airport

Rental cars and taxis are available from the airport. A taxi will run about $ 50 USD - $ 60 USD . You can also arrange a shuttle from the area one level above baggage claim. Airport express runs 4-10pm and is about $ 15 USD one way. You can also take BART from San Francisco International Airport to the Civic Center Station where the escalator will take you directly to the front entrance of the hotel.


From the airport, take the 101N and exit 9th toward Golden Gate/Civic Center. Turn left onto 9th. Keep straight then turn right on Market. Note that parking will cost approximately $ 35 USD /day.

Once in San Francisco, getting around is easy since the BART and cable cars run right past the front of the hotel and the MUNI is only a short walk.

Other Things to See and Do

In addition to the enjoying the beauty of the Whitcomb, while in San Francisco, there are countless other places to see and things to do while you are there. A few examples include: Visit the monolithic Transamerica Pyramid, drive, bike, or walk the Golden Gate Bridge; visit the infamous prison, Alcatraz, explore the distinct and historic San Francisco neighborhoods (Presidio, Sea Cliff, Nob Hill, Chinatown, etc); check out another of the historic hotels, the Fairmont San Francisco, stroll or eat your way through Fisherman's Wharf; or take a short drive out of town and experience the wonders of Yosemite National Park. While this is just a short list of a few of the more popular attractions, it should be enough to get you started!

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Author: Robert. Last updated: Jun 01, 2015

Pictures of Hotel Whitcomb

Hotel Whitcomb - Hotel Whitcomb
Hotel Whitcomb - Photo by rocor

Whitcomb Hotel San Francisco - Hotel Whitcomb
Whitcomb Hotel San Francisco - Hotel Whitcomb. Photo by Jenny Poole


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