Drone Views of San Francisco from Ghirardelli Square

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Alcatraz view
Enjoying a glass of wine on the terrace overlooking Ghiradelli Square with a view of Alcatraz (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

I spent an amazing weekend in San Francisco staying at a beautiful luxury hotel that before my visit, I didn’t even know existed. To make it even cooler, that luxury hotel is inside Ghirardelli Square, one of the city’s iconic tourist spots. And I do mean inside, the Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square is within the same brick factory complex that formerly housed the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. The luxury boutique hotel occupies the upper floors, directly underneath the factory’s iconic rooftop electric sign.

Ghiradelli Sign
The Fairmont is directly below the iconic roof sign (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

While at the Fairmont, I took advantage of the large terrace overlooking San Francisco Bay to do some drone flights. I captured the sweeping views of the bay you get from the terrace and from some of the hotel’s suites, along with that iconic sign and the city skyline of the surrounding neighborhood. I was also lucky to film during one of the brief periods of bright sunshine and clear skies. Not long after I landed the drone, the city’s legendary fog began to roll in, obscuring those beautiful views.

Ghiradelli sign
A bird’s-eye view of the iconic Ghiradelli Chocolate sign (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

The Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square was a real discovery for me, even as a seasoned traveler and regular San Francisco visitor. In fact, I frequently stay at the Fairmont San Francisco, the city’s Grande Dame luxury hotel which sits atop Nob Hill. The Heritage Place designation in the hotel’s name means it’s part of the luxury brand’s fractional ownership program, offered at a few locations around the world. The units at the hotel are all available for purchase on a fractional ownership basis or for purchase outright. For hotel guests, this means the units are all luxury one- and two-bedroom apartments, with separate bedrooms, full chef’s kitchens (with wine cooler), dining rooms and built-in audio and surround sound entertainment systems. Since there are no basic or small hotel rooms, the prices are higher than what a hotel room costs, but offer more space and amenities.

Aside from the luxurious accommodations, ideal location and great views, you also get Fairmont luxury service and full-time concierge and housekeeping. Room service is provided by two great restaurants located in Ghirardelli Square (The Pub and McCormick & Kuleto’s seafood restaurant).

McCormick and Kuleto's
Saluting the view from McCormick & Kuleto’s seafood restaurant with my steak (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

Even as a frequent visitor to the Bay Area, with was a unique experience as you are immersed in the heart of tourist San Francisco. That terrace also looks down onto the interior of Ghirardelli Square (always filled with tourists) and there’s a private stairway that takes you right there. You’re also within walking distance of other iconic San Francisco tourist sites like Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. After a great dinner at McCormick & Kuleto’s, we strolled down to Fisherman’s Wharf and then down to Pier 39. The walk took about an hour each way (walking slowly) and the entire area is kind of a tourist zone, with lots of shops, restaurants and attractions like a wax museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and other museums. It’s also the area where the bay and Alcatraz cruises depart from.

2018 Lexus GX 460
The 2018 Lexus GX 460 was great for the long drive up from Los Angeles (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

The Fairmont was one stop on a luxury roadtrip I did to Northern California in the 2018 Lexus GX 460. While the luxury SUV was great on the 500 mile drive up from Los Angeles, traffic in San Francisco is seriously bad. If you’re flying into the city, I recommend not renting a car and using public transportation and / or ridesharing apps. We had to travel back and forth to Berkeley and the traffic on the Bay Bridge was obscene on a Saturday afternoon, in both directions. There is also a lot of street and bridge construction, which further increased the travel time.

Read more of Freddy Sherman’s take on travel on his Go World Travel Blog. You can also follow more of his adventures at luxuryfred.com blog, his luxuryfred Instagram feed and on his YouTube channel.