Le Meridien is one of my favorite hotels in San Francisco. The hotel has rooms on the upper floors of this 24-floor hotel with incredible views of Coit Tower and North Beach from one side. The other side of the hotel looks to the Embarcadero Center and Oakland Bay Bridge. The San Francisco Financial District bank skyscrapers are another vantage point when on the south facing side of the hotel.
Room views are best on upper floors and corners. There is one room (xx19) on each floor in the northeast corner of the hotel with a small concrete balcony and chair.
These are the only balconies on the north face of the hotel.
The Financial District facing side of the hotel has some rooms on the upper floors with large patio balconies containing a table and several chairs. The structural architecture captivates my eye with the uniform jagged lines and angles.
The BART train/subway travels between the SFO airport and BART stations with parking garages in the suburb cities south of San Francisco like Millbrae, South San Francisco, Colma, and Daly City. Parking is $1.00 per day on weekdays in some of these BART station garages. This is the best option for someone with a car who doesn’t want to pay $20 to $60 per day to park in San Francisco. Weekends are free parking at BART stations, but you must request a multi-day parking pass in advance for weekday overnight parking or risk getting a ticket in the morning.
The BART station at Embarcadero Center exits outside the Hyatt Regency which is the opposite side of Embarcadero Center from the Le Meridien Hotel at 333 Battery Street. The walk is about 10 to 15 minutes from BART Embarcadero Station to Le Meridien Hotel.
The Embarcadero Center offers restaurants, movies, and shopping along elevated landscaped pedestrian walks on several levels all the way from the Embarcadero, the street across from the waterfront, past Embarcadero Towers 1-4 and to the Le Meridien Hotel, a half-mile away at the opposite end of Embarcadero Center. Le Meridien Hotel is part of architect John Portman’s Embarcadero Center urban landscape and one architectural structure of San Francisco’s finest redevelopment projects of the 1970s.
The location in San Francisco’s Financial District is both an advantage and disadvantage.
The Financial District area around Embarcadero Center can feel like a dead zone in the evening and on weekends when the large bank buildings of the Financial District are closed and most of the cafes and food courts around them also shut down. There are few other hotels around and there are not many night and weekend pedestrians. The hotel’s physical attachment to the Embarcadero Center still offers restaurants and entertainment options during these off business hours times.
On the other hand, the Financial District is packed with business workers during weekdays, offers a variety of low-priced eateries during the day, and nearby are actual residential streets. There is a large Safeway grocery store just two blocks away from Le Meridien Hotel. Small city parks with green space are nearby, and the waterfront is much closer than when staying at hotels around Union Square or SoMa district around Moscone Convention Center. This location is midway between the tourist centers of Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. Chinatown is just a few blocks away.
The Hotel Room:
Room booked: Junior Suite at $139.30 for a special offer Starpicks rate. $161 after tax.
The room upgrade I received on the Junior Suite booking was Room 2004 – the 20th floor Water Tower Suite.
The Water Tower Suite is on the Financial District side of the hotel. The entry hall to the room is about 70 sq ft. with an end table and a closet, but one drawback to the room is the room door faces directly onto the suite bathroom. Closing the bathroom door is necessary when someone is entering or exiting the room to prevent a direct line of view from the hotel hallway to the shower of the suite.
I recall a junior suite I had a couple of years ago with the same design of the room door looking directly into the bathroom, but that bathroom was oriented perpendicular to the room door and only the sink was visible from the hall. The Water Tower suite bathroom is aligned straight with the hallway, so if both the room door and the bathroom door are open, the hallway view is straight through to the sink, toilet, and shower.
A right turn from the entry hall opens into a 13’ by 25’ sitting room. The sitting room has a 42-inch Panasonic HDTV, two couches of same white upholstery, one 48” of seating space with only one armrest side (not particularly comfortable) and a 70” seating space couch with two armrests (much more comfortable). A matching chair with armrests and a large rectangular ottoman with a different covering, but matching legs completes the main seating. The living room has seating for seven on upholstered furniture and the desk chair.
There are no door dividers to the bedroom. The room design creates an open flow, yet separate rooms.
Both the sitting room and the bedroom each have two large floor to ceiling windows at 7 ft. x 7 ft. and a sliding patio door that opens just 4 inches.
Total window space for the Water Tower Suite is almost 200 square feet of viewing pleasure.
Bedroom is 15’ x 25’ = 375 ft. Bathroom 6 x 11 ft = 66 sq. ft.
The Water Tower Suite is modern urban living at its finest. Over 800 square feet of real estate in the San Francisco downtown Financial District stratosphere on the 20th floor of the Le Meridien hotel.
Kelley said she felt too tired to walk around, but she would walk the streets if I wanted. We started laughing because we have spent 30 years walking the streets of downtown San Francisco whenever we came to the city simply due to no alternative. You can either hang out on the streets and in the parks of San Francisco for free or you pay to use facilities for eating, shopping, entertainment, and going to the toilet.
This is the highest state of living in the City. Just to sit in a high-rise apartment room above the city streets and watch the TV while gazing out the windows to the city around us is luxurious living.
Why walk the streets when we have a luxury hotel room with two couches and three chairs and 200 square feet of window viewing?
I walked to Safeway three blocks down the road and purchased a chicken dinner and we hung out in the room watching TV shows we had never seen.
All was hunky dory until 7am the next morning. There was an employee labor action boycott loud and clear going on outside the hotel. We had slept with the windows open and even on the 20th floor we could hear the voices blaring over the megaphone,
“Check out now! Boycott the Le Meridien Hotel! Don’t check in! Check out now!”
I spoke with the protesters and they told me Le Meridien management is the only Starwood Hotel in San Francisco to not have negotiated a fair labor contract with the workers. This hotel and the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf are the two hotels union workers are asking hotel guests to boycott.
The employee action went on nonstop for two hours from 7am to 9 am Saturday morning. I had been wandering the hallways of the hotel and came back to the room to find Kelley asking what was going on. The noise had wakened her even with her earplugs in and she woke up vomiting for the first time in two months of chemotherapy. That kind of put a damper on the hotel stay. Fortunately the protest stopped at 9am and Kelley was able to go back to sleep. I requested a 4pm checkout and Kelley slept until 2pm.
Le Meridien San Francisco Hotel Suites:
Penthouse Suite 2416. This top floor suite is the equivalent of four rooms, but this suite does not have a balcony. All named-suites face the old Federal Reserve Building side on the south. Corner rooms (room number ending in 19) on the north side have a small balcony and view of Coit Tower and North Beach. Some rooms on south side of hotel have large balconies.
Carlton Tower Suite 2312
Canberra Suite 2212
Sydney Cove Suite 2104
Water Tower Suite 2004 (Loyalty Traveler YouTube video link)
Georgetown Suite 1904
Villa Magna Suite 1804
New York Suite 1704
Promenade Suite 1618
The hotel lobby has glass windows looking out to the street. There is a complimentary coffee service set up at the bar during morning hours.
The corner room of the lobby at Battery and Clay is called the Library. The room was a library when I stayed here last year. The books have been removed – replaced by two large screen TVs.
There is a 24 hour fitness room at the hotel. A fee can be paid for day access to a swimming pool at a club down the street.
On Merchant Street alley behind Elephant and Castle is a Czech pub with happy hour from 4-7 every night and large Czech beer (20oz?) are $3.50 – down from normal $5.50. It is called Prague Café.
My favorite place is Fuzio just across the street on the third level of the Embarcadero. This restaurant has a hopping happy hour from 3pm-6pm Monday thru Friday with $3.00 appetizers and $3.00 pints of beer. I love drinking Peroni beer at Fuzio’s when visiting Le Meridien.
Parking will run about $60 after tax for overnight valet parking at the hotel. Meters around the hotel are $3.00 per hour and mostly limited to 1 or 2 hours until 6pm or 9pm.
Loyalty Traveler’s cheap-ass parking tip: Along one-way Sansome Street, going towards Coit Tower, the parking meters are less expensive after crossing Broadway Street. And parking is actually unmetered, but still restricted to 2 hours about six blocks from the hotel along Sansome Street heading towards Coit Tower. Sundays are free parking in most metered areas. There is a low cost parking garage at Sansome and Vallejo at $14 weekdays and $10 weekends, but no in-out privileges and the garage is closed at night. You should be able to park overnight, but you can’t get your car during the night and you will be charged for two days if you arrive at 4pm and leave 4pm the next day.
Sansome Street between Vallejo and Green Street is one block of unmetered, 2-hour parking. Battery and Vallejo has meters at $1.50 per hour with 2-hour limit.
I was unaware of the union boycott for Le Meridien San Francisco at the time I made the reservation. During this past year there has been a campaign to have college funds disinvest in HEI, the corporate owner of Le Meridien San Francisco.
Here are two YouTube videos with more information and a Cornell University newspaper article:
Students Protest Ties To Co. With Alleged Labor Law Violations – Cornell Daily Sun
I hope labor relations improve with HEI and a contract is worked out so I can return one day to the Le Meridien San Francisco. I really like the hotel. For the meantime, this hotel is on my San Francisco “Do Not Stay” list.
“Don’t you forget no way
Just who you are and where you stand in the struggle.”