x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Hotel insider: Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco

An environmentally and wallet-friendly hotel in that most eco-conscious of cities, San Francisco.

The rooms at California's first 'green hotel' feature fresh, simple decor, high-quality bed linen and eco-friendly toiletries. Courtesy Orchard Garden
The rooms at California's first 'green hotel' feature fresh, simple decor, high-quality bed linen and eco-friendly toiletries. Courtesy Orchard Garden

The welcome

This is a purpose-built, LEED-certified hotel built to US Green Building Council national standards, but you'd hardly know it to look at it. It blends in nicely with the other smart, seven-storey building on Bush Street, which itself is busy with traffic during rush hour.

Like the rest of the hotel, the entrance is smart but low-key. A doorman opens the doors for us and the reception staff are friendly and genuine, offering maps of the area and free local newspapers. We make our way to our room on the fourth floor; our bags follow shortly after. A plate of fruit and some iced water is brought to us after the long flight, and we are left alone to rest.

The neighbourhood

The hotel is in a smart section of Bush Street, very close to the financial district and right next to Chinatown. It's a great location - Montgomery St BART station, the Union Square shopping district, the Embarcadero, North Beach and Nob Hill are also within walking distance.

The room

Our room is cosy, and thick glazing soundproofs it from the traffic below. It overlooks some creative-looking offices in a period building opposite so has a distinctive feel. The interiors are somewhat bland and all the rooms look the same - blonde wood, green carpets, bedspreads and curtains, but everything feels fresh, comfortable and quiet. The beds have 100 per cent cotton Egyptian linen. This is California's first "green" hotel, so toiletries are eco-friendly and power is controlled by key card. Unfortunately, you can't open a window, so the air conditioning has to be switched on to ventilate the room, which seems to go against the "green" aim. There is a tea- and coffee-making station and a good quality LCD television.

The service

This isn't a full-service hotel, so don't expect 24-hour room or concierge service. Reception and cleaning staff were friendly and refreshingly unobsequious. There was some confusion over parking restrictions, though, and we were advised to use an expensive valet next door when it was cheaper to park the car in a car park over the road.

The scene

Unlike some of the bigger-name San Francisco hotels, this is a warm and inviting place to return to at the end of a long day's sightseeing but not somewhere to see and be seen. The restaurant lacks atmosphere, although there is a pleasant rooftop terrace. The hotel is smoke-free and the other guests, what little we saw of them, were quiet and respectable.

The food

The full breakfast in Roots restaurant was organic but otherwise uninspiring, and the price, at US$20 (Dh73) including a cappuccino and taxes, was average. The more expensive Cafe de la Press, just over the road, is much more atmospheric, and there are plenty of restaurants in the area.

Loved

The location, the quiet, low-key feel of the place, and the lovely comfortable bed and bedding.

Hated

The room was rather stuffy. It would have been nice to be able to open a window, although this would likely have made the room noisy.

The verdict

A soothing hotel with a residential feel, this is a great mid-priced option in a fantastic location. The restaurant could be improved in terms of food, decor and staffing.

The bottom line

A double room costs from $160 (Dh588) per night, including taxes. Wi-Fi is free and there is a small business centre and gym, but no pool. Orchard Garden Hotel, 466 Bush Street, San Francisco (www.theorchardgardenhotel.com; 00 1 415 399 9807).

rbehan@thenational.ae

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