Thursday, September 25, 2014

San Francisco 1

We stayed at the Argonaut Hotel near Fisherman’s Wharf. Despite being very close to the most touristy part of the city, it was a nice hotel and surprisingly quiet at night. The hotel is across the street from the Maritime Park, so there is less traffic than you’d expect.

Even though most of the area’s attractions – Pier 39, the aquarium, Madame Tussauds – were east of the hotel, I often went west. The park was a nice place to walk around and has a pedestrian pier with great views of Alcatraz and the bay without all the tacky souvenir shops. There is also a very small beach that always seemed to be crowded. Just south of the park is Ghirardelli Square, the one place in San Francisco where every chocolate lover has to go. Right after we left, they had their annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival. Talk about bad timing.

The Argonaut is a boutique hotel with a nautical theme. The area used to be San Francisco’s main fishing village and the hotel is close to the working part of the wharf, so that makes sense. Some of the rooms have views of the Golden Gate Bridge, but ours faced the ships in the marina. There are a couple of old World War II ships and some even older 19th century ships that you can visit nearby, but we never had enough time.

One of the best things about the hotel was that they had free bicycles for guests. San Francisco probably isn’t the best place in the world for a bike ride, but the Fisherman’s Wharf area is flat and the Golden Gate Bridge is a reasonable – and beautifully scenic – ride away. Between the hotel and the Golden Gate Bridge was the Palace of Fine Arts. It was built for the World’s Fair, but doesn’t seem to have any real purpose today except as a nice place for a picnic.

Even better was the service at the hotel. Living in China, I’ve gotten used to some pretty lousy customer service. This was the first time I went back to the United States since Ryan & I went to Minnesota in 2012. We stayed at his mother’s house that time. So I have not actually stayed in an American hotel in a very long time. I think I was expecting it to be just like a Chinese hotel, for some reason. I was pleasantly surprised. The staff at the Argonaut was genuinely friendly – as opposed to the usual pretending to be friendly – and they not only knew what they were doing, but they actually seemed to want to do their jobs. Chinese hotel managers should take a class or two from this hotel.

My only complaint with the hotel was that we had to leave so soon after we arrived. The main point of the trip was Los Angeles. San Francisco was essentially a long layover. If I ever go back – and I hope I do some day – I’ll definitely try to stay at this hotel.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No hate, please. There's enough of that in the world already.