If San Francisco's Ferry Building is a culinary and transit hub with a bustling urban vibe, the new 1 Hotel SF, situated in the old Hotel Vitale spot just down the Embarcadero, is the antidote.
With plants seeming to grow from absolutely everywhere, this new stay with a biophilic theme and sustainability ethos feels like a hushed secret garden in the heart of the city.
The front desk at 1 Hotel SF.(Douglas Friedman)
The motif becomes clear even before you get checked in: The front desk is framed by potted plants and backed with a lush green wall, and the lobby floor is clad in salvaged barn wood. Reclaimed redwood, salvaged from the original Bay Bridge, makes appearances in the elevator landings and corridors, a hint that this hotel group's strategy of respecting humans' relationship to the natural environment and celebrating all things local extends beyond just stylish placements of native foliage.
To get the ambience right, the hotel's internal design team tapped SF's own Nicole Hollis to consult on the look for the public spaces. Aficionados familiar with Hollis' work will recognize it in signatures such as the color palette (mostly neutrals and black) and raw materials like concrete (local family-run company Concrete Collaborative was tapped to do the bar). There are also handmade Moroccan zellige tiles in the lounge and rugs made of plant fiber and recycled wool throughout.
With properties in hip North American destinations including Brooklyn, Nashville, and Toronto (with several set to open soon from Cabo and Austin to Copenhagen and Melbourne), the 1 Hotels brand weaves its environmental commitment throughout. There are filtered water dispensers and refillable glass carafes; wood keys and privacy rocks in place of the usual plastic placards; chalkboards for in-room doodling in lieu of paper; and an all-electric Audi hotel car. You can even take part in the 1 Less Thing program, which encourages guests to leave behind a gently used item of clothing for donation.
A double room at the Bamford Wellness Spa has a view of the Bay Bridge.(Courtesy of 1 Hotel SF)
But don't think all this environmental wokeness translates to a crunchy-granola experience: The rooms and amenities here don't skimp on luxury. While the public spaces feel like a thriving terrarium, the grander rooms and suites (all pet-friendly) feel more like fish bowls thanks to city and waterfront views of San Francisco Bay through oversized picture windows. (This makes for some fun bird's-eye people watching and sunset viewing over the twinkling Bay Bridge.)
Furnishings feature more reclaimed wood, sustainably sourced linens, and natural materials but manage to feel plush with touches like soft robes and throw blankets and sofas for lounging by the view. Quality organic body products lend each bathroom a spa-like vibe, though we still recommend a trip to the Bamford Wellness Spa which offers holistic treatments and rooftop soaking tubs reminiscent of the old Vitale days.
With wellness being a close cousin of nature, you can expect a solid offering of experiences here. In addition to shiatsu massages, detoxifying facials, and dry skin brushing at the spa, you'll find rooftop fitness classes in partnership with LuxFit SF and Love Story Yoga; a gym with personal trainers and Peloton bikes; and even e-bikes for borrowing to get you around town.
A leafy setting at Terrene, 1 Hotel SF's all-day restaurant.(Conor Hagen)
Of course, this is San Francisco and food is our top priority. The restaurant Terrene is serving it up in 1 Hotel style. Leafy greens abound in pots and dripping from the ceiling, while a bounty of other plants makes its way to the long and shareable menu, sourced both from the chef’s rooftop garden and from various regional farms and producers. There are salads, vegetables sides, and plenty of vegan options—plus, wood oven–fired flatbreads and a selection of seafood and proteins, mostly with a Levantine twist. Standout dishes include the hot laffa bread, yeasty and tender and dusted with za’atar; and seared scallops with eggplant puree, avocado labneh, piquillo peppers, and Llano Seco salami.
The zero-waste cocktail program—a collaboration with Trash Collective—mixes it up with locally sourced ingredients in concoctions like Lula’s Heart, made with rum, Lillet Blanc, passionfruit, and avocado pit falernum. Come sunshine, enjoy a drink, or brunch, on the outdoor patio overlooking the Embarcadero. And, don't miss the lobby farmstand with imperfect-but-perfectly-fresh fruit from the Ferry Building as well as occasional community gatherings and wine dinners with local makers.
// Room rates starting at $499/night; 1 Hotel SF, 8 Mission St. (Embarcadero), 1hotels.com/san-francisco.
A selection of dips a Terrene.(Conor Hagan)