Top business stays: San Francisco
It's not all the time that business travellers get to wheel and deal in one of the world's most picturesque spots.
Online lodging experts Oyster.com has prepared a breakdown of the best hotels for business travellers in the city, while recommending spots where it's possible to schmooze with clients and take in the sights at the same time.
Eight of the best hotels:
1) The St. Regis San Francisco
The St. Regis, located in business-heavy SoMa one block from the Moscone Convention Center, is a premier choice for business travellers, offering rooms with great beds and bathrooms, 24-hour butler service, critically acclaimed Ame restaurant and Remede Spa and pool.
2) The Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco
The hotel's location in the Financial District makes it a natural luxury pick for discerning business travellers. The hotel offers astounding views from elegant, spacious rooms high up in a skyscraper, the best in pampering service, a modern fitness centre, and WiFi (for a fee) in rooms and the lobby.
3) Le Meridien San Francisco
With a location in the heart of the Financial District, classy meeting spaces, a solid business centre, two on-site restaurants, a hopping bar scene, and free WiFi in public spaces, Le Meridien stands out among business-friendly San Francisco properties. Rooms feature all the extras of a five-pearl lodging - from bathrobes, Frette linens and 24-hour room service to a well-stocked minibar, a large work desk and overnight shoeshine - plus there's an on-site fitness facility.
4) The Fairmont San Francisco
The Fairmont may be historic, but business folks will find modern amenities and services including a 24-hour business centre -- staffed Monday to Saturday -- a fitness centre, thousands of square feet of meeting space, an on-site UPS store, high-end shopping, and a cable car stop right outside for whisking guests around the city. The elegant rooms have WiFi for a fee (free for members of the loyalty programme), pillow-top beds covered in Frette linens, deep tubs, plush robes, minibars, snack baskets, iPod docks, 24-hour room service, and, if you really must work, large desks.
5) W San Francisco
You can't ask for a closer location to the Moscone Convention Center than this W outpost in the SoMa Art District. Aside from a quick morning commute for convention-goers, the property offers a responsive, on-site concierge and rooms with an extensive pillow menu -- body pillows, neckrolls, firm foam PrimaLofts, feather-filled -- plus bright work desks, minibars, iPod docks, 24-hour room service, and WiFi (for a fee, though it's free in public spaces). Add the 24-hour fitness centre, heated lap pool, and 5,000-square-foot Bliss Spa, and this becomes a stellar choice for the corporate crowd.
6) Hilton San Francisco Union Square
With 1,908 rooms, the Hilton is the largest hotel in town with tons of meeting space and plenty of perks, including an extensive business centre that prints posters, assists with PowerPoint presentations, provides Fedex services and makes computers, printers, copiers, and fax machines available after regular business hours. It's as close to sleeping at the office as you can get -- with all the attendant hubbub. Luckily, there's a large fitness centre (for a fee), pool and solid, if middle-of-the-road, rooms in which to unwind.
7) Hilton San Francisco Financial District
Rooms at this fresh-looking property offer lots of space, modern technology and big desks, making this Hilton a great alternative to more expensive business hotels like Le Meridien, four blocks away. The free WiFi and a location close to the Financial District certainly don't hurt either.
8) Omni San Francisco Hotel
Even business travellers who don't need to take advantage of the Omni's Financial District location or the ample meeting space will still appreciate the hotel for its terrific service, solid steakhouse, free WiFi (if you sign up for the loyalty programme), and fair prices.
A few more reasons why San Francisco is a great business travel base:
AT&T Stadium: More than a few important business decisions have been made with the accompaniment of beer and baseball. AT&T Stadium, with its sweeping water views, is arguably the country's prettiest ball park.
Tip: Don't miss the stadium's signature garlic fries. Yankees Stadium sells them now too, but make no mistake - the Giants' HQ were here first.
Lunch at the Ferry Building: One of the city's most popular tourist sites. Dine on Vietnamese at The Slanted Door, excellent burgers at fries at Gott's Roadside, Mediterranean at MarketBar, farm-to-table fare at Boulette's Larder... the list goes on. This is an especially good spot to go if your company is picking up the tab -- meals here tend to be on the pricier side. No corporate account? There are more casual lunch spots as well, including Cowgirl Sidekick and Il Cane Rosso, plus great options for coffee and dessert. Or head to the Farmer's Market on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and pick up some free samples.
A Bar with a View: It's no secret that making a business proposition can be a whole lot easier over cocktails. Head to Top of the Mark at The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco or Harry Denton's Starlight Room at Sir Francis Drake for phenomenal city views.
San Francisco does have some drawbacks: Earthquakes; traffic on the Bay Bridge; and the maze of one-way streets in the city proper. But if it weren't for the former, San Francisco might not have become a hub for such innovative architecture; the iconic Transamerica Pyramid, for example, is the tallest building in San Francisco, and still earthquake-proof.
And though the traffic might occasionally be nightmarish, public transportation in the bay area -- while not at the same level as, say, New York City's -- isn't all bad. Bay Area Rapid Transit BART.L gets over 350,000 passengers on average every weekday, and the number of riders on Caltrain is increasing significantly year over year.
The city's adorable cable cars and streetcars aren't just for show -- they're part of the Municipal Railway network, the country's seventh-largest transit system, and are convenient as well as cute. Plus, taxis -- which were once comically scarce -- are now relatively common.