There are only four skyscrapers in San Francisco taller than the one at 345 California Street, where renovations on the Four Seasons Embarcadero have just been completed.
But so what if the building can’t quite reach the heights of the Transamerica Pyramid or Salesforce Tower? Its sweeping city vistas are equally as spectacular as those from those titans of glass and steel. No other hotel in SF even comes close to matching them.
The 40th floor terrace at Four Seasons Embarcadero will begin hosting yoga classes and sunset cocktails this month. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Embarcadero)
Technically, the Four Seasons has held the property vacated by the former Mandarin Hotel for three years now. That’s how long it’s taken them to slowly renovate the space to maximize the impact of its soaring stature. Gone are the heavy drapes and muted color palette, details replaced with bright, white bedding and city-inspired accents like velvety Golden-Gate-Bridge-orange stools and benches.
Compared to SF's other Four Seasons hotels, the Embarcadero property is more boutique than bulky. There are just 155 rooms, every single one with a world-class view. From the picture windows in my bay-view corner suite on the 47th floor, I can see all the way to the Oakland hills. It’s even more impressive than the one from the soaking tub in the oversized bathroom, but only half as luxurious.
On the top nine floors, even getting from elevator to room is memorable. From the sky bridge, a glass-encased corridor between the building’s two towers, the many moods of the city shift across the horizon. The Transamerica Pyramid is so close, I almost feel like I can reach out and touch it.
A terrace suite at Four Seasons Embarcadero.(Courtesy of Four Seasons Embarcadero)
The best view in the house, though, is from the Four Seasons’ two terrace suites, 1,200-square-foot rooms with couch-outfitted balconies that are, by themselves, larger than most of the city’s apartments. Even if you can’t afford their hefty price tag, you can still take in the rarified air up there. A communal terrace on the 40th floor will soon begin hosting regular programs including yoga and sunset toasts.
Despite its polished appearance, the hotel isn’t 100-percent complete yet. At some point in the near future they’ll open a spa as a counterpart to the already-in-business fitness center where a herd of brand new treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals are stabled along with free weights and strength training machines.
The management is also still trying to decide on a concept for the first floor restaurant-bar, a warm space decked out in earth tones. For now, they’re calling it simply The Lounge & Bar, a place where well-made classic fare like turkey sandwiches, roasted branzino, and rosemary and lemon marinated chicken are on order all day. The hotel’s full bar offers a curated list of cocktails that run the spectrum from bright and sweet (the Sips of Sunshine, made with raspberries and elderflower-infused vodka) to smokey and brooding (the Summer Fog, made with Hennessy VSOP, Ron Zacapa Centenario 23, cherry heering, and amaro).
Breakfast, which like the other items on the menu is also available both through room service, is an indulgent (if pricey) mix of morning favorites. The smoked salmon benedict delivered to my table is heaped with lox, drizzled with lemony hollandaise, and served alongside perfectly salted breakfast potatoes. It’s so filling that it’s well after 5pm when I finally notice I’m hungry again.
Most of the rooms at the Four Seasons Embarcadero have both walk-in rainfall showers and stand-alone tubs stocked with toiletries from Parisian brand Cordage. Mini bars come equipped with a Nespresso machine and local favorites like Dandelion Chocolate, Anchor Steam, and St. George Spirits.
But the real showstopper at the Four Seasons Embarcadero is how beautifully it highlights the city of San Francisco. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a staycationer in search of a local escape, this place can’t help but make your eyes pop.
// Superior rooms from $553/night, deluxe rooms from $591/night, suites from $846/night; Four Seasons Embarcadero, 345 California St. (FiDi), fourseasons.com/embarcadero
Even the bathrooms at the Four Seasons Embarcadero have luxurious views of the city. (Courtesy of the Four Seasons Embarcadero)