24 Hours in San Francisco at the Clift Royal Sonesta

My first trip out to California was a long time in the making. For years, it felt like I was the last person left who hadn’t been out to the west coast. So, when we started planning our California trip in August, I knew it’d be a long one – and we made the most of every minute in San Francisco, Sonoma, and Tahoe. Which meant that when we stayed in San Francisco, we had to spend one night right in the center of the city at the Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel.


Located just a short stroll from Union Square in a historic building built in 1913 as a luxury hotel by Frederick Clift, the Clift Royal Sonesta is in the perfect location for a day of exploring San Francisco. It’s walkable to several of the major San Francisco sights – the Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf (which we didn’t actually have time to do), Chinatown are just a few of the areas nearby that you’ll want to check out. It’s also walkable to great restaurants and less touristy spots – I’ll share a few of those when my San Francisco travel guide goes up next week. And, yes, it is also close to the Tenderloin, a neighborhood that has a seedy reputation, but I never once felt unsafe walking at night.

I’m going to put a disclaimer on these images – they are all from our gorgeous suite. The rooms are light, bright, and sleek. The hotel itself, however, has this amazing vibe that I simply couldn’t capture on camera. You walk in and are immediately struck by this grand scale, dark, sexy decor. It’s dimly lit, full of black, red, and rich wood. It’s as if you’re stepped into an intimate, secret club the minute you walk through the front door, in from the bustling street. But, of course, those dark vibes don’t translate well onto camera – particularly when I’m traveling across the country without my tripod, so you’re going to have to lust over the room itself instead.


In all of the images here where I’m wearing a gorgeous blue wrap dress, it’s the Everlane Japanese GoWeave Wrap Tank Dress. This dress has come with me on almost all of my travels recently for a few reasons. First, the fabric travels beautifully and doesn’t wrinkle. Second, it can be dressed up or down depending shoes and accessories. Because of it’s just below knee length, it’s totally a casual day dress when paired with flat sandals and perhaps a light weight scarf. But, you can throw on a pair of heels and statement earrings like I did here to really dress it up for a celebratory dinner. OR you can pair it with booties, a leather jacket, and a scarf for a hip night out outfit. Lastly, the color and fabric is so versatile that you can wear this throughout the seasons. Definitely something you need in your closet.

And a size note: I’m normally a 0 or a 2 in dresses depending on the fit (basically, depending on whether it’s fitted v. a-line) and I went with the 0 in this dress. Since it’s a wrap, there’s room to make it fit.



The minute you walk into the hotel, you know it’s something special, so I wasn’t at all surprised when their Director of Marketing informed me that the entire hotel’s design was the brainchild of Philippe Starck, an interior and industrial designer whose work I know from my stint working in interior design.

The contrast of the moody, luxurious lobby and bar with the white, bright, polished serenity of the rooms was, of course, intentional, and the nods to San Francisco are subtle, but present. From the exact shade of purple-gray selected for the hallways to mimic the San Francisco fog to the deep orange-red lucite throughout the rooms that alludes to the Golden Gate bridge to the multi-color elevators that hint at the Painted Ladies, Starck didn’t miss a detail when designing this hotel.

Starck’s designs are punctuated by furniture from artistic icons including Ray and Charles Eames and Salvador Dali. And, trust me, even if you’re not a design lover, you’ll realize there’s something different about this space as soon as you enter.



We stayed in the deluxe one bedroom suite, and as soon as I walked in, I turned to Adam and asked, “umm…are we cool enough to have a hotel party?” This room was significantly larger than our apartment, outfitted in the sleek, modern, neutral decor that you’ll see in all the rooms, and had this vibe that begged for a sophisticated late night gathering with lots of champagne and beautiful people.

So, that’s not what we were doing, but, hey, we were going out to a nice dinner, so I got dressed up as if I was playing the role of a chic lady about town entertaining in my hotel suite. While I loved the huge living room, dining room, light-filled bedroom, and marble bathroom, it was the pretty pink dressing room that I couldn’t get enough of. Seriously, can I transport this into my home in DC?



While I had never even been to San Francisco before this trip, Adam had actually been to the bar at the Clift. The Redwood Bar is a glamorous, dark bar with wood panelling that traces its roots back to one singular redwood tree. The cocktails are both classic and inventive, the atmosphere is moody, and the Redwood Bar is the kind of place you can imagine both deals being made and secrets being exchanged.

Of course there was the convenience of stopping in for a nightcap on our way back to the room after dinner, but the Redwood Bar is an old school throwback infused with contemporary art and flavors – and that’s exactly what I’m in the mood for when it comes to an evening cocktail.

After an old fashioned for me and a fruitier concoction for Adam, we retreated back to our suite for the evening – no after party, unfortunately – and enjoyed our last few hours soaking up the sleek, serene luxury of Philippe Starck.



No surprise here – there’s more to come in my California series of blog posts! I’ve already covered 4 Days in Lake Tahoe, How I Packed for 12 Days in California, A Getaway at Haydon Street Inn, 48 Hours of Wine Tasting in Sonoma, and a Foodie’s Guide to a Weekend in Healdsburg. Up ahead, I’ll share my Travel Guide to San Francisco, An Evening at Madrona Manor, A Getaway at Calderwood Inn, and my Travel Guide to Healdsburg. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for all the updates on what’s live next!



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