The Prince and the Pea in the Palace Hotel

Things I think a hotel  traveler wants are a safe place to stay the night, a pleasant environment, and a comfortable bed.  Some people even say two out of three ain’t bad.

The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, a Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection brand property, is a pleasant environment. The hotel staff members were quite friendly and helpful –from the Front Desk staff to the concierge and maids.

The ambience of the Palace Hotel is great.  Historical photos and documents reflect the glorious past of the hotel, from an 1893 Thanksgiving menu for the Palace Hotel listing Sierra bear meat as a dining selection to a letter commissioning a $6,000 mural by Maxfield Parrish – the famed Pied Piper mural painting in the hotel bar. The historic hotel – at one time the largest hotel in the world – has wonderful features not found in most modern hotel rooms like spacious size, 14 foot room ceilings, and wall molding.


The Pied Piper Bar’s Maxfield Parrish mural

But when it came to the bed this Prince in the Palace did not sleep well due to the pea beneath the sheet. And I do mean to use sheet in the singular term. The only thing between me and the mattress was a single thin sheet and a thin layer of fabric that did not even cover the entire mattress surface.  I felt the stitching pattern of the mattress impressed upon my torso as I lay on the bed and after four hours of in and out sleep I started thinking about the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea.  Unfortunately these thoughts were running through my head at 2am while tossing and turning on the bed in the Palace Hotel.

I am a person who normally sleeps well. My wife is envious of my ability to quickly pass out in bed. No ambien is needed for this guy to get a good night’s sleep. I can’t remember the last time I had a hotel bed so uncomfortable. The mattress at the Palace hotel wasn’t that bad, although too soft for my sleeping preference.  There are reasons for having a mattress pad on a bed. 

Awake at three in the morning I am thinking about the homeless man I watched earlier in the evening setting up his blankets in the doorway of the shoe store outside on Market Street.  He is sleeping tonight without the safety and pleasant environment, but his bed might be more comfortable than what I am experiencing tonight.


Palace Hotel mattress pad

The Palace Hotel is a member of the Luxury Collection.  In November 2008 I stayed at The Nines, Portland, Oregon. That hotel opened in October 2008 as a new member of the Luxury Collection. The bed at the Nines, and perhaps more importantly the bedding, made that bed the most luxurious hotel sleeping experience of the past year. That was a bed I relished lying on and the bed at the Nines actually deserved the phrase used in the Palace Hotel confirmation email, “featuring ultimate comfort bed”. 

As my wife and I lay in the bed at the Palace, we both quickly agreed the bedding lacked quality one would expect from a Luxury Collection property.  I felt the cord ribbing of the mattress as my hand moved along the edge of the bed through the night.  I kept adjusting my body trying to get off the damn pea, but the more I fidgeted, the more I bunched up the thin pad beneath the sheet into ridges.

Paul Simon sang the lyrics, “He’s got diamonds on the soles of his shoes”.  While I generally would only describe a mattress as firm or soft, I can truly say after a night at the Palace the stitching pattern of the mattress left me with a feeling of having diamonds on the skin of my back.  


The Palace Hotel is a San Francisco landmark and a wonderful hotel to visit. Saturday mornings at 10am there is an independent tour run by San Francisco City Guides volunteers. This free tour is well worth your while to look around the hotel and hear its history. Although the tour takes visitors to public spaces it does not give access to guest rooms or visit the pool area on the fourth floor.

Perhaps I am a royal pain in the ass regarding the bed since I looked through FlyerTalk and TripAdvisor and I didn’t see other guests complaining about the linens and bed.  In my opinion, the beds are more comfortable at any of the other Starwood Hotels in San Francisco.  The ambience of the Palace Hotel is deserving of the Luxury Collection branding.  The beds are not.

“Oftentimes excusing of a fault,

Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.”

                        – Shakespeare “King John”



Pool on 4th floor of Palace Hotel. St. Regis (indoor), Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf (outdoor), and W Hotel (indoor) are only other Starwood Hotels with pools in San Francisco.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. Wow – have wanted to try that hotel for a weekend stay ever since Michael Douglas fell through the roof in “The Game” – so many nice hotels to choose from among the major chains in that area. Reviews have been hit or miss on this property.

    If I do try it, I’ll definitely check out the bed 1st and maybe have then bring up anouther 2 matress pads. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. True enough about the W Hotel. The pool is actually a lovely area.

    The problem with the W San Francisco is the pool is so shallow that my fingers scraped the bottom trying to swim. I do not have that long of arms.

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