The Best San Francisco Luxury Hotel You’ve Never Heard Of

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Ghirardelli Square
The iconic rooftop sign is one of the city’s most popular images (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

San Francisco’s Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square is a true hidden gem located within the city’s iconic former chocolate factory. Although I have visited San Francisco many times, I never even knew this property existed. First opened in 2008, the luxury boutique hotel occupies the upper levels of the legendary Ghirardelli Square brick buildings, directly under the iconic rooftop electric sign.

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

Here’s a tour of my fantastic two-bedroom, two-bathroom bayview suite. The space was a large, stylish urban loft with brick walls (original to the Ghirardelli factory), high ceilings and huge windows looking right onto Alcatraz and San Francisco Bay. The suite also had a private patio area, also offering those postcard views of Alcatraz. There was also a large communal terrace with a firepit. Many hotel guests and residents gathered to sip wine and enjoy the sunset. Hotel guests have access to concierge services, a daily breakfast, afternoon cocktail hours and in-room dining provided by two different restaurants located downstairs in Ghirardelli Square. There’s a fitness center, a business center and even bikes for guest use.

Ghirardelli Square view
The view of Alcatraz, with Ghirardelli Square below (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

You’re also in the heart of San Francisco’s waterfront tourist area, with Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 only a short walk away. And of course you’re right inside Ghirardelli Square with a private stairway (with keycard access) for hotel guests and residents that leads downstairs from the hotel’s terrace.

Wine in San Francisco
Toasting Alcaatraz with some Napa Valley Chardonnay (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

Beyond just being a luxury hotel, the property is part of the Fairmont Heritage Place group, luxury properties around the world that are also offered for sale on a fractional ownership basis. Some properties, like Ghirardelli Square, also have units for full-ownership sale outright. As a fractional ownership property, all the units at the Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square are luxurious one-, two- and three-bedroom luxury apartments. Luxury apartments with full chef’s kitchens, dining rooms, built-in surround sound entertainment systems, washer/dryers and other amenities more common to luxury apartments than hotels. Like other fractional ownership programs, your purchase price includes a certain number of nights you are entitled to use the unit. These nights can be traded for stays at other Fairmont Heritage Place properties around the world (they have locations in Mexico, Dubai, South Africa as well as San Diego, Colorado, Santa Fe and Florida). The units are also rented nightly as hotel rooms, via the Fairmont website or other popular online booking sites.

2018 Lexus GX 460
Driving the Lexus GX up one of the many steep hills in San Francisco (Photo by Freddy Sherman)

To get to San Francisco in style from Los Angeles, I drove the 2018 Lexus GX 460 Luxury SUV. The Lexus GX was perfect for the 1,500 mile road trip, driving back and forth between LA and the Bay Area, then out to Palm Springs. It was comfortable to drive and accommodated the five of us and our luggage without a problem.

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.