by Michael Blanding
The Financial District building that houses the Omni San Francisco Hotel was once a bank — and that history shows in the luxurious accommodations Omni has crafted in its 10-year renovation of the Florentine Renaissance building. Every inch of the hotel, opened in 2002, is full of opulent details, from a chandelier the size of a small car in the lobby to polished wood and marble floors throughout the public spaces. True to Omni’s tradition of making each of its properties unique, it decked out the hotel in shades of blue, grey, and gold to represent the sea foam and golden sunsets of San Francisco Bay.
The same care typifies the service in this 322-room hotel, where everyone from housecleaning staff to the concierge are encouraged to help and interact with guests. Don’t be surprised to find a friendly note from cleaning staff admiring a child’s stuffed animal — or an extra towel or two if your family seems to be going through a lot. While the hotel lacks any official kids’ activities, or even a pool, it makes up for it somewhat in some special perks for young guests, such as a backpack full of activities and milk and cookies upon arrival.
Besides the luxurious accommodations, the real advantage of staying here is the location. While the FiDi (as the Financial District is called) doesn’t bustle with activity itself during weekends, it lives in close proximity to many downtown neighborhoods such as North Beach and Chinatown, both full of people-watching and shops, restaurants, and cafes for tourists. The pedestrian-friendly Embarcadero — the long wharf along the Port of San Francisco — is also only a few blocks away. Last but not least, one branch of San Francisco’s famous cable car runs right outside the door down California Street. Visitors can take the car downtown to Union Square, the heart of the city, in just a few minutes, or transfer to the car that runs down to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.
Our Editor Loves
- Luxe accommodations and service
- Cable car right outside the door
- Goodie bags for the kids
- Water Sports
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
The standard rooms at the Omni San Francisco are on the smaller side at 385 square feet. They are appointed in luxurious style, with either one king or two double beds with comfy pillow-top mattresses, elegant wood furniture, and jewel-toned pillows and curtains. Rooms include a chair and writing desk, and 40-inch, flat-screen TVs with OnDemand movies. DVD players are also available upon request. Bathrooms include marble vanities, bathtubs, and Gilchrist & Soames amenities.
While identical to Deluxe rooms, Premier rooms are located on higher floors and feature a view of the downtown skyline.
The same size as Deluxe and Premier Rooms, the Signature rooms occupy the top several floors of the hotel and feature a few significant upgrades, including a 42-inch television, iPod dock, and free Wi-Fi.
Spacious and airy with 14-inch vaulted ceilings, the Omni's 15 suites offer much more room to stretch out, with 600 square feet of space. They include both a king-size bed and a sitting area with a fold-out sleeper sofa, as well as all the extra amenities of Signature Rooms. They also feature a view of San Francisco's iconic cable car as it rattles by on California Street.
The most exclusive accommodation at the hotel, the Presidential Suite features a king bed and sleeper sofa, along with wet bar, dining table, and its own Jacuzzi. The room next door can be added to create a 1,300-square foot two-bedroom suite.
Beds were ok. Blankets and pillows were weird and uncomfortable. It was not a great location for family trip/sightseeing. The staff was great however. We appreciated the cookies at night that were provided as we had a child with us.
This is a very well-appointed hotel in a good location, but what really makes it stand out is the exceptional, friendly service of the staff, from the bellhop to the front desk to the room service. Our every request was met quickly and cheerfully. Highly recommend.
Omni Sensational Kids
The Omni San Francisco Hotel doesn't have kids' club, per se, but it does go out of its way to make its smallest guests feel special. Children are presented with a backpack upon entry filled with snacks and activities, including crayons and coloring book and a memory match game. The concierge is available between the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and always happy to suggest family-friendly activities. During holidays, the hotel offers some special activities, including visits from carolers and Santa Claus, and free babysitting for the kids with holiday movies and treats so parents can go out on the town.
The Omni San Francisco doesn't have its own pool, however, it does refer guests with children to the nearby Embarcadero YMCA, which has both a lap pool and activity pool open to use for a fee. Check ahead for times, as both pools are often used for classes and group activities.
Bob's Steak House
The West Coast outpost of a popular Texas chain of upscale steak houses, Bob's brings some Middle American abundance to downtown San Francisco. From the moment diners sit down in the burgundy, padded leather chairs, they are seen to by attentive waiters who seem to anticipate their needs -- whether it's another dirty martini or a extra fork -- before they do.
Dinners start with a big jar of Bob's signature pickled peppers and oversized cucumbers for diners to sample. From there, the menu features all of the steak house classics -- nothing fancy or inventive, just well-prepared chopped salads, crab cakes, and broiled salmon. But the prime draw, of course, are the steaks -- including a marbled ribeye and succulent filet mignon. The steaks here aren't cheap, ranging from $50 to $70, not including sides, but they are expertly cooked and delicious. If they aren't enough for you, the waiter will offer to top them with foie gras or lump crab for an extra fee.
Bob's also offers breakfast and lunch, including a range of omelets and crab cake benedict in the morning, and sandwiches, including a steak sandwich of course, in the afternoon. Hours are from 6:30 to 10 a.m. for breakfast, Monday to Friday (7 to 11 a.m. on weekends), 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch during weekdays; and 5:30 to 10 p.m. for dinner nightly.
Located just across from its sister steak house, Bob's Bar offers pared down and more creative versions of the classics -- filet mignon sliders, beef tenderloin chili, Dungeness crab mac n' cheese, etc. The bar's floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto California Street, so kids can keep entertained watching the cable car pass by on its route. The bar is open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., staying open until 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Rooms include 24-hour room service, which can be ordered by phone or online, including an option to schedule delivery for later. The online service can also be used for other services, including requesting luggage pickup or a car from the valet.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Kids are treated to complimentary milk and cookies at turndown on their first night they are staying at the hotel.
The hotel has a small fitness center that is complimentary for guests, and it includes free weights and machines. Kids under 18 must be supervised by adults to use the facility.
Wi-Fi is available for free in the lobby and public areas, and for a fee in the rooms (except Signature rooms, where it is also free). If you sign up for the chain's loyalty program (free of charge), you'll also get complimentary Wi-Fi.
The concierge is happy to provide referrals to local babysitters.
The Art of Smart Timing
San Francisco is relatively sunny and nice all year, but the micro climate of the Bay Area does offer some variation from month to month. The most reliable stretches of nice weather occur in spring and fall, which are often filled with day after day of dry and sunny 70-degree days. Summer, ironically, can sometimes be chilly, though the Omni's Financial District location is less prone to the city's famous fogs.
The least desirable time of year weather-wise occurs between late November and January, when the skies tend to be rainier than the rest of the year. This is also a time when it's possible to find better room rates at the hotel. Because of its location in the FiDi, the Omni also tends to get business travelers during the week, making weekends also a time to find bargains.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is a major transportation hub served by most domestic and international airlines. Public transportation from the airport is easy via the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system. Trains leave every 15 minutes and take a half-hour to get downtown, with fares of $8.65 per person. The closest BART stop to the hotel is Montgomery station, about 3.5 blocks away.
Taxis from the airport to the hotel also take about a half-hour and run around $45, and may be worth the trouble to save the hassle of walking with luggage from the station. Either option is preferable to renting a car and trying to navigate San Francisco's notoriously hilly streets.
Once downtown, a car is hardly necessary to get to San Francisco's main attractions. Many, including Chinatown, North Beach, and the Ferry Terminal building are just a few blocks' walk; while Fisherman's Wharf is a fun cable car ride away from the hotel. For longer trips around town, San Francisco's MUNI bus and trolley system isn't perfect, but is reasonably efficient. A car is really only necessary if you plan an excursion outside the city, for example, to Marin County or the East Bay (though BART also serves Berkeley and Oakland quite well.)
For Mom and Dad
The Omni doesn't have a spa in house, but it does offer in-room massage treatments of 90-minute Swedish or deep-tissue rubdowns. The hotel also offers access for a fee to the pool at the Equinox Sports Club on Pine Street, located in the former home of the San Francisco Stock Exchange. Guests can ogle murals by Diego Rivera as they tap laps in a saltwater pool.