After a run of stays at small boutique hotels, the Hilton feels like a metropolis, with three enormous towers and 46 floors that rise above most of the city. It's the biggest hotel in San Francisco, with a whopping 1919 rooms.
It's in the heart of downtown with everything at your fingertips, including all manner of shopping, some of the city's best restaurants and the theatre district, plus you're only a few steps from Union Square station and the iconic Powell Street cable car.
Behold the buzzing behemoth – the expansive lobby of the Hilton is full of people, any time of the day. As well as a gazillion rooms, there is a multi-level car park, large gym and a rooftop pool – but the real showstopper here is the rooftop bar, CityScape, another huge feature of the hotel, which offers impressive 360-degree views of this spectacular city. Head up as the sun sets when you can see the sky turn brilliant orange behind the not-too-distant Golden Gate Bridge, and then watch the city light up as darkness falls across the bay area.
True to Hilton style, the rooms are elegant without being ostentatious and impeccably clean – a quiet refuge with all mod cons. We're in a newly refurbished room. It's spacious and features two new queen-sized beds, which are particularly comfortable, curtains with blackout blinds, full-length mirrors and a filter coffee machine.
Right away the service proved phenomenal. A genuine, friendly check-in with no wait (considering the number of people the hotel housed) was an impressive start. Reception takes your mobile number to check on your stay, which is done via SMS, in a non-intrusive manner. We had some problems setting up Wi-Fi that were all resolved via a text.
In-house restaurant Poached offers a buffet breakfast with a good spread of healthy options such as fresh fruit and a yoghurt bar, smoothies, oatmeal, bagels, sugar-free jam and syrup, plus an array of not-so healthy temptations like cheese blintzes, tiny pastries and cinnamon scrolls. A gastropub on the ground floor, Urban Tavern, offers farm-to-table food and "50 wines from within 50 miles". There was also a handy mini-market on site called Herb'n'Kitchen serving Starbucks coffee. Refill stations for water bottles throughout the hotel were also useful.
Endless opportunities for exploration await outside the Hilton's doors. For restaurants, head to Kin Khao, a clever Thai eatery with a modern take on Thai food (on the ground floor of Parc 55, the hotel's sister property), and the hip Liholiho Yacht Club for modern Hawaiian fare. All manner of shopping is literally at your doorstep and many other popular places to visit such as Chinatown or the Mission District are a short tram or Uber ride away.
This is your best bet for comfortable, spacious digs and top service in the heart of San Francisco.
Five-star service, and the City Scape rooftop bar is a destination in itself.
The hotel is so huge it's hard to find your way around, which might be fun unless you're in a hurry. After checking out, with our bags in tow, we struggled to find the car park.