The downside to staying in as many hotels as I do - 18 so far this year - is that after a while they all start to look and feel the same. Even the most modern and trendy properties can have a hard time standing out to a guy that has a half dozen old room keys in his wallet. On the other hand, the upside to this uniformity is that I've come to appreciate anytime a hotel makes me stop and say "Wow." I had yet to descend the marble staircase at its entry, when The Omni San Francisco had me uttering that short stamp of approval.
|The front of the Omni while passing by on the trolly.|
The wacky modern furniture and pulsating music of so many hotels was replaced by a sea of marble and deep mahogany accents on the walls. Crystal chandeliers lit the way, while traditional, yet comfortable furnishings begged me to enjoy my favorite past-time...people watching in the hotel lobby. First, we needed to check-in, so the doorman helped lift my jaw off the floor, and led the way.
|One of the most beautiful marbles floor I've ever seen.|
As a former front desk manager, I am usually overly critical of the check-in process at hotels. Either the agent wasn't friendly enough, failed to share any information about the property, or committed any number of nit picky sins that would only be noticed by fellow neurotic former hotel managers. The agent working with us at the Omni not only nailed the perfect check-in, but she also took the initiative to orient us with the area, explain transportation options, and perhaps most importantly, she suggested we visit the Ferry Building for lunch. Once again, I was impressed...
We took the somewhat vintage elevator up to our room - more on that later - where the great first impression continued. The classic style of the lobby carried through to the guestroom, with a few of the modern touches that no traveler can live without. We had a view of California Street as well as the Bank of America tower, and although we were too high to see the trolly cars, we could hear them frequently passing. A quirky amenity we were happy to have for our first visit to San Francisco...
After a long day of sightseeing, we decided to abandon our original plans for dinner and instead find something local to the hotel. We asked the concierge for a few suggestions, and just like the desk agent earlier in the day, he proceeded to blow me away. He took the time to understand what we were searching for first, and then made suggestions that came from his personal experience, not the San Francisco guidebook. To the Omni management: You have a real asset in Lex, someone should see to it he obtain his Les Clef d'Or keys...
|Funny note by the house phone: Your sister called, please call back|
It is rare that so much space is dedicated to the staff of a hotel, but in the case of the Omni, it is truly warranted. This was the most impressive group of hotel professionals I have encountered in many years, and they are the biggest reason that I wouldn't consider another property in San Francisco. The classic decor and prime location can only take a hotel so far, it's the staff which puts the Omni on another level.
The only blemish - albeit a somewhat funny one - in our entire stay involved the previously mentioned elevators. I believe these were the original 1926 lifts, and their operation seemed to be a little inefficient. They took forever to arrive, and each morning we stopped at nearly every...single...floor...on the way down to the lobby. After a while, we turned it into a contest by trying to guess the number of times we would stop before reaching the lobby. Sure I'm reaching a bit here, but this was the only fault I could find after four days at the Omni...
|The trolly car zooming toward the hotel.|
Over the years, I've come to appreciate when a hotel has the whole package. Some properties knock your socks off in their look, but the staff may as well be replaced by kiosks. On the other hand, there are plenty of hotels with an outstanding staff, yet their facilities would send even mild germophobes running for the hills. For the first time in countless hotel stays, at the Omni San Francisco I found a property that's mastered them both.
And if housekeeping happened to locate my heart, please forward it to my home address. I seem to have left it behind...
If You Go...
- Join Omni Select Guest - Free WiFi plus other benefits.
- The walk from Montgomery BART station is easy (with a couple bags).
- They serve Starbucks, but try La Boulange across the street.