Published Date:  Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Condé Nast Traveler’s 2018 City Guide to San Francisco

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel

This design hotel oozes cool, with plenty of Philippe Starck furniture and 300-thread-count sheets. Don't miss the chance to have a proper cocktail in the iconic Redwood Room.

Our Review



How did it strike you on arrival? Though the Clift has been around for nearly a century, it has a swanky vibe. The lobby has clean lines, designed lighting, and striking furniture, including a Salvador Dalí coffee table, Eames chairs, and a surreal stool by Robert Matta. One oversized Philippe Starck chair—so tall you might need a boost to climb in—is a frequent Instagram subject. The lobby oozes cool.

Nice. What’s the crowd like? It's well-heeled crew, but less businessmen in suits than smartly dressed people in fancy jeans and boots. Directly off the lobby is the Redwood Room, so named because, as legend has it, the floor-to-ceiling wood paneling came from a single redwood tree. The room is anchored by a massive, back-lit, etched glass bar, and guests tipple drinks from low-slung couches and in wing back chairs. It feels like something out of a period movie, save for the plasma screens cycling through digital art. Thursday through Friday, DJs spin in the Redwood room, and the crowd is more 20s and 30s.

The good stuff: Tell us about your room. A standard king room has Philippe Starck-designed English sycamore custom king sleigh beds and chairs, 300-count linens, and an entertainment center. The color scheme is strictly neutral.

We’re craving some deep, restorative sleep. They got us? These rooms also come with down duvets and merino wool throws.

How about the little things, like mini bar, or shower goodies. Any of that find its way into your suitcase? Clift's mini bar offers up a nice variety of snacks, from beef jerky ($11), cashews ($11), gummy bears ($7), and pretzels ($6). Forgetful travelers can also pick up a charging kit ($25) or a razor kit ($20).

Please tell us the bathroom won’t let us down. Bathroom products are by Malin + Goetz. Bathrooms feature tubs and tiled showers—but some guests find them small, and out of date.

Maybe the most important topic of all: Wi-Fi. What’s the word? All guests pay a $28 per day facility fee that includes high-speed internet access, $10 credits for food and drink each day, and coffee and tea in the lobby.

Room service: Worth it? Burgers and pizza are on the menu, alongside grilled octopus salad, steak frites, and roasted baby heirloom carrots.

Anything stand out about other services and features? Whether it’s childcare, gyms, spas, even parking—whatever stuck with you. The Clift keeps its own bees on its rooftop, and uses the honey in its kitchen and at the bar. It also has bikes that its guests are welcome to borrow.

What was most memorable—or heartbreaking—about your stay? The Redwood Room is genuinely beautiful.

Bottom line: worth it, and why? Some guests complain that room decor is dated and could use a refresh.