Review: Le Meridien San Francisco

A couple of weeks ago I needed to spend a night in San Francisco in order to get my Chinese visa, and unfortunately hotels were outrageously expensive. After looking at all of the options I ended up booking Le Meridien for $269 per night through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. By booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts I received a $100 food and beverage credit, complimentary continental breakfast, a room upgrade, and 4PM late check-out. As was the case with my stay at the Westin Grand Frankfurt, the food and beverage credit are incredibly valuable to me, while the room upgrade and 4PM late check-out benefit aren’t worth much to me, since I get those anyway as a Starwood Platinum member.

I made it to the hotel at 3PM and was promptly helped at check-in. All of the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits were explained, and the agent commented that I would be getting a great room upgrade with “more room than [I’ll] know what to do with.”


Lobby

Sure enough I did get an upgrade to a “named” suite on the 18th floor, the “Villa Magna Suite.” Starwood technically excludes “named” suites from Platinum upgrades, so this was the first Starwood stay I’ve ever had where I got a suite upgrade without asking, let alone an upgrade to a suite I wasn’t technically entitled to. So kudos to the hotel for that.


Room entrance

And the room was indeed massive. It wasn’t a traditional two-room suite but rather a huge single room with a small divider in the center.


Bed and desk

The divider in the center of the room had a flat screen TV facing the bed, and then on the other side was the living room.


TV


Desk and seat with ottoman

The living room was huge with a three piece sofa set.


Living room


Living room

The room boasted views of nearby buildings in the Financial District.


View from room

The bathroom featured a single sink, shower/tub, and toilet.


Bathroom


Sink


Shower

Since I had a $100 food and beverage credit and was alone, I decided to order room service. I had some crab cakes and mushroom ravioli. Both were good, though neither great. I wouldn’t order either without a food and beverage credit.


Room service

The following morning I had my “continental breakfast” in the restaurant, Park Grill. While the restaurant was decorated nicely, I was surprised to find out that “continental breakfast” consisted of coffee, juice, and a croissant OR toast. Instead of getting into a discussion of that here, see my previous post on the subject to chime in.


Park Grill


Continental breakfast

Overall I was very pleased with the upgrade I received, and compared to the rates the competition were charging, I think I got a fairly good deal. That being said, there was some element of “shabbiness” to this hotel that I can’t quite put my finger on. I love Le Meridien as a brand, but this hotel didn’t quite live up to the other great hotels they have, in my opinion (I loved my stay at Le Meridien Vienna, just as a comparison). In San Francisco my go to hotel remains the InterContinental, and I’ll continue to stay there whenever possible. But with a decent rate (<$150) I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel as being a good value.

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Comments

  1. This hotel was one of the early Park Hyatt properties, but was reflagged a number of years ago. I’ve stayed there under the old and current flags and indeed as you suggest, something is just a bit shy of where you would expect it to be in terms of quality.

    The bathrooms are very late 80s/early 90s. The corridors are uninspiring. The lobby has a very low ceiling and feels dark…and is in no way inspiring.

    I only stay here if I am particularly seeking spg points or the rate is somehow extraordinarily low.

  2. @ NYBanker — You said it better than I ever could. It really starts when you arrive in the lobby, which feels especially un-Le Meridienish (wow, I’m good at making up terms).

  3. Hi Lucky,
    This question is slightly off topic – I’m from India and I am considering an extended weekend stay at Goa in either Grand Hyatt or Park Hyatt. There are 4 of us in 2 rooms. Now, I am not an existing Hyatt member of any kind. So my question is that which membership should I opt for? I should add that I’ll be paying full price for 2 rooms for 4 nights.
    Also, do Hyatt honor bookings by online booking sites? Do you earn points for that?
    Lastly, which one would you go for? Grand Hyatt is located bang in the middle which is convenient but somewhat financial area while Park Hyatt is in a hideaway, secluded place. The full price rates at both the places are more or less the same.

  4. Just curious, why did you come to SF to get your Chinese visa? I’m pretty sure you can do it through the mail, or just go to DC, which is a lot closer! But since I’m from the Bay and love the city, I’m all for people visiting, even if it’s just for a night. Never tried Le Meridien, but like you said, the IC is always great!

  5. “After looking at all of the options I ended up booking Le Meridien for $269 per night through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. By booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts I received a $100 food and beverage credit, complimentary continental breakfast, a room upgrade, and 4PM late check-out.”

    Wait a second… Aren’t you a Virtuoso Associate? 🙂

  6. @glu800 — I procrastinated for so long that I was a bit concerned about using a visa service. I managed to combine it with a mileage run, so it wasn’t all bad.

    @ Lark — This actually isn’t a Virtuoso property.

  7. @ Basilsik — You could earn Hyatt points for both rooms as long as you book a published rate directly through Hyatt. Third party bookings wouldn’t qualify for points accrual.

    As far as which one to go with, I think you analyzed it pretty well — do you prefer to have a more secluded stay, or be in the center of the action? I guess it depends what you’re looking for.

  8. Since you had a $100 food and beverage credit (which is quite a lot for one person) couldn’t you have used part of this to purchase a decent breakfast? Or can the credit only be used for dinner?

  9. I have to renew my Chinese visa yearly (I get a multi-entry business visa), and use a great service in NYC – it’s always back in under a week (of course it costs extra for rush service). I’d be happy to provide a reference.

  10. Seems useless to spend $270 for getting a Chinese visa when one can get it done through an agency for $50.

  11. I got a feel from the photos on Tripadvisor for the Le Meridien of an underwhelming/outdated hotel. Your report seems to confirm exactly what I’d noticed. As we discussed I stayed in the Intercontinental and it’s a fantastic hotel… the two should probably switch ratings positions on tripadvisor IMHO.

  12. While the room is large and nice the bathroom sure is underwhelming for a named suite. Sf has never been one of my favorite destinations. I just feel like i am getting ripped off everywhere i go. San diego i enjoy more. Just one of those things where certain cities hit people different ways.

  13. We stayed there a couple of weekends ago with my brother and his wife. I have SPG gold through the AMEX Platinum, and we got upgraded to 2 really nice rooms with a bay view on a high floor, despite having booked a special rate of $139 (including free parking which we didn’t need). There are loads of good restaurants within walking distance nearby, so only used the free coffee (Illy and very good) in the lobby in the AM. We would stay here again. It is close to the Ferry BLDG and the Bart. (altho we used the $4 jetsetter limo)

  14. Lucky, you opened my eyes to the possibility of using the Amex FHR rate and still getting Starpoints, if booking a Starwood property w/FHR. I just had a stay @ the Palace in San Francisco for a rate of $199(with all the same bells and whistles you got, for your stay at Le Meridien). I opted to have my breakfast in the room (a pretty nice corner two room suite), and had I paid for the breakfast, that alone would have been $48. In addition, I used the $100 F&B credit for three meals, two lunches, and a dinner. I did exceed the credit slightly, but only by $15 or so. Because the Palace was so central to what my plans were for this trip to SF, I was able to use the 12pm check in and 4pm checkout as well. I definitely was pleased with the value I got from FHR.

  15. @ D — Happy to hear! It can be a spectacular value, especially if you’d otherwise be paying the best available rate. It’s an even better for short stays, since the food and beverage credit is per stay and not per night.

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