The Palace Hotel is the perfect home base to explore San Francisco, as the city’s best attractions are right at your footsteps. Within easy walking distance, you can explore several of the city’s finest museums, enjoy Union Square’s high-end shopping, catch the ferry to Marin or Alcatraz or walk to Yerba Buena Gardens, home to the Children’s Creativity Museum, ice skating, bowling, a carousel, and a playground.
This hotel successfully appeals to kids and parents alike. Parents will appreciate the hotel’s sophistication, 5-star service, and luxurious amenities. Kids will appreciate the amazing indoor swimming pool, stocked with noodles and beach balls, as well as being next door to the world-famous Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop!
KidTripster Tip: Leave the car at home and use public transportation. Both BART and Muni have nearby stops. I learned this the hard way, leaving the family minivan in the garage near the hotel for one night at a cost $60!
Start or end your day by diving into the best indoor swimming pool in San Francisco. The skylit pool is big and gorgeous! Take a dip and enjoy the view of downtown. It’s open from 6:30 a.m. for your early risers to 10 p.m. for your night owls.
Kidtripster Tip: Parents, bring your workout gear. The hotel gym has a wall of glass beside the hotel’s pool, so parents can work out while keeping an eye on (older) kids as they swim.
Round up the kids and join the Palace History Tour every Saturday at 2 p.m. You’ll learn about the iconic hotel’s colorful past and famous guests. Meet in the hotel lobby by the flowers. (By the way, the floral arrangements here are gorgeous!)
Photo courtesy: Palace Hotel
Where to eat?
After a day exploring the sights of San Francisco, come back to the hotel for its Signature Tea, available on Saturday afternoons only. Tea in the hotel’s beautiful glassed-in Garden Court is the perfect, relaxing end to a day of sightseeing. For kids (ages 5-12), they have the Prince and Princess Tea that includes children’s tea sandwiches and pastries and a jeweled crown and candy scepter. At around $45/child, it's pricey but memorable.
Kidtripster Tip: The Saturday afternoon tea is very popular. You definitely need reservations. And if you’re visiting during the holidays, consider the special Santa Tea.
Enjoy dinner with the kids at the comfy, yet elegant Pied Piper. The restaurant is named after the 6-foot by 16-foot, 250-pound mural that graces its walls, but the real attraction here is the burger which has been voted one of the best in the Bay Area. Enjoy a family dinner while watching any of the city’s beloved sport teams on the big-screen TV. The kids and I opted to skip dessert at the restaurant and instead walked down the hall to share one of the enormous ice cream sundaes at the Ghiradelli Chocolate and Ice Cream Shop. Be forewarned, the sundaes are overpriced, but they are ohhh-sooo good.
On weekday mornings, a delicious breakfast buffet awaits you in the hotel’s famous Garden Court. Cost: Youth (5-12) $28; Adult $38.
The hotel completed a $40-million dollar renovation in 2015, and it shows. The guest rooms, indoor pool and fitness center, lobby, promenade, and famous Garden Court all sparkle. The rooms are chic and contemporary with 11-foot ceilings. The pillow-top beds are soft and comfortable, and my kids were as entertained by the TOTO washlet in the marble bathroom, as they were by the 48-inch LED TV. The standard, 300-square feet room starts at about $195/night, a relative bargain for downtown San Francisco. Note: breakfast is not included in the price.
Kidtripster Tip: Check in under the hotel’s family rate and watch one kids' movie in the comfort of your room for free.
And you can bring Fido on your getaway! The luxury hotel is pet-friendly for dogs (15 pounds or less). Only one dog is allowed per room, and only certain rooms are designated as pet-friendly. Your four-legged friend will receive a dog bowl, bed, and mat but be prepared to shell out an extra $75/night for the cleaning fee.
Photo courtesy: Palace Hotel
The Palace Hotel (2 New Montgomery St.) is located in downtown San Francisco about a 30-minute drive from San Francisco International Airport or a 45-minute drive from Oakland International Airport, depending on traffic.
All in all, the Palace Hotel is doing a lot right. The service, especially housekeeping, is outstanding, and the location is ideal. The historic hotel is grand and elegant and would be a great choice to mark a special occasion, such as an anniversary, birthday or holiday trip to San Francisco. Even my 9-year-old daughter thought it was magical. As we checked out she said, “Mommy, I want to get married here.”
Former journalist Diane Ettelson is a native San Franciscan but still loves playing tourist in her hometown with her three young girls. After several years of being entrenched in the princess stage, she’s relieved to report that her girls have found new interests ranging from sports to chess to animals.