Hotel Zeppelin, San Francisco, review: Refreshingly adventurous

Read our writer's views on this property below

THE LOCATION

Ideally situated in the heart of downtown, two blocks from shopping and transport hub Union Square.

THE SPACE

When the first thing you see in a hotel is a two-metre-high sculpture of a naked woman made from recycled cutlery, it's clear you're not checking into another boring chain. Sister property to tech-themed Hotel Zetta traveller.com.au/hotelzetta, Hotel Zeppelin's refreshingly adventurous interior pays homage to San Francisco's rebellious counterculture. Highlights include a striking portrait of Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane in the lobby, psychedelic Grateful Dead album covers in the hallways and illuminated lines from Allen Ginsberg's infamous poem Howl in the ceiling of the bar. The lobby lounge is a particularly appealing space thanks to an imposing gothic stone fireplace and a striking wave-like installation of gin bottles. Downstairs is The Den, a games room with shuffle board, pool tables and a photo booth, not to mention an enormous peace sign made out of recycled licence plates.

THE ROOM

Split across two adjacent buildings, the hotel's 196 rooms are relatively understated compared to the public areas. The decor is primarily black, white and grey with just the occasional splash of colour from a cushion or artwork. Notable elements include an unusual (and slightly uncomfortable) high black leather barber's stool and a custom-designed maple topped desk, but other than that the furnishings are minimalist and inoffensive. The bathroom is on the snug size but is livened up by a band-themed graffiti-style wallpaper. Gadget-wise there's an LED TV, several USB power points and a Nespresso coffee machine. Effective blackout blinds are a welcome touch; an airconditioning unit that could drown out a shuttle launch, less so.

THE FOOD

Rambler offers all-day dining, transitioning admirably from a light and breezy breakfast venue to a romantic candlelit dinner spot. The upstairs brasserie features wooden tables, brick walls and exposed ducting, while the quieter backroom has more of a members' club feel thanks to low ceilings, soft lighting and vintage photographs. The cuisine is American with Italian influences and covers all the bases from the traditional (beef short rib) to the adventurous (salt cod brandade gratin). Standout dishes include bacon-wrapped chicken thighs from the wood-fired oven (a leftover from when the space was Wolfgang Puck's Postrio restaurant) and a succulent, plate-shatteringly enormous kurobuta pork chop.

STEPPING OUT

Thanks to the hotel's location near Union Square, you're steps away from some of the city's best shopping, theatres and restaurants. Should you wish to explore further afield, simply borrow one of the property's distinctive lipstick-red Martone bikes. Head north and you'll pass through Chinatown on your way to Pier 39. Head southwest and you're 30 minutes from the gloriously verdant Golden Gate Park.

THE VERDICT

An enviably located property with a flamboyant rock'n'roll personality.

HIGHLIGHT

After arriving on an early-morning flight from Sydney, staff go out of their way to organise an early check-in.

LOWLIGHT

A compulsory $US25 "amenity fee" for internet access, bottled water, in-room coffee machine and fitness centre. Why not just include this in the room rate?

Our rating: ★★★★

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TripAdvisor rating: ★★★★

ESSENTIALS

545 Post St, San Francisco. Rooms start from about $US190. Phone +1 415-563-0303, see hotelzeppelin.com

Rob McFarland was a guest of United, Brand USA and Hotel Zeppelin.