Hotels Amenities: How important are they?

Work took precedent on this rainy day, but after slogging through a few rough drafts, my brain was fried, so I took a walk around San Francisco’s Union Square, surprised to observe the large number of hotels where I’ve stayed on past trips. In fact, thanks to Priceline, I’ve stayed at several different hotels on this trip alone: the Courtyard Marriot (South of Market)(or SOMA), the Parc 55, the Prescott Hotel and the Hotel Nikko. While the four hotels are rated similarly, they offered very different experiences based on their service, design and amenities, most dramatically exemplified by the most recent two hotels, the Prescott Hotel, which I left on Saturday and the Hotel Nikko, where I’m staying until Friday. Full Disclosure: I am typing this post while lying on a comfortable bed at Hotel Nikko.

For example, the Prescott Hotel’s vintage charm and excellent lounge made my stay earlier this week feel homey, almost more like a studio apartment than a hotel. But the small, boxy and fuzzy pre-flat screen TV also felt “vintage” (note the quotes to denote irony), the noisy elevator was right across the hall and worst of all, the CFL bulbs used in my light were too bright for the cream silk lamp shades, which made my pale complexion appear pasty white – like a young, male Baby Jane.

Blinding, cold CFL at the Prescott.  Keep reading for my ingenious fix.

On the other hand, Hotel Nikko’s a much more modern hotel with a health club, flat screen TV’s and a big, roomy bathroom. Even more exciting, the light fixtures next to the bed have halogen bulbs. On dimmer! While the floor lamp next to the chair (pictured above) and the desk lamp both use CFL bulbs, they’re dimmable as well, which combined with brushed nickel shades that direct the light downward task-style, creates a warm light akin to incandescent or halogen.

Like so. When used with a brushed nickel shade, this dimmable CFL at Hotel Nikko creates a warm task light.

While both hotels are lovely, neither offers particularly surprising or stellar design, so it’s the dimmable lamps that makes Hotel Nikko my favorite home for this stay. Hoteliers, keep your mounds of pillows and granite topped bedside tables; chuck the flat screen and don’t worry about the separate stand-alone shower. But for the love of God, don’t skimp on the dimmers, which give your guests the power to wield light itself! Cue the thunder.

After an hour or so walking around Union Square, I walked back to the Nikko – at least that was my intention. It wasn’t until I approached the Prescott Hotel’s double doors that I realized that dimmers or no dimmers, all the hotels had started to blend together in my head. By then I was soaked, but I knew my large, comfortable, perfectly illuminated room was only two blocks away.

Of course, I improvised. What? Too weird? Or a good invention for design-minded, light sensitive road warriors?

And the views aren’t bad either:

That’s the Parc 55, the second place I stayed (I crashed with my buddy who was there on business, an extremely affordable option I highly recommend). Somewhat oddly, the room at the Parc was on the 17th floor facing the Nikko, and now at the Nikko, I’m on the 17th floor facing the Parc. Full circle. Circling the drain? It is very Rear Window-y. I’ve seen arguments, dancing and lots of packing and unpacking. Please don’t judge me for taking a peek every now and again.  After all, everybody stands at the window looking across at their fellow travelers eventually. At least that was my conclusion after hours of observation.

And now, more San Francisco hotel photos:

The Prescott Hotel lobby.

Parc 55 lobby.

Parc 55 lobby.

Parc 55 lobby.

Parc 55 lobby.


Triton Hotel lobby.

Triton Hotel lobby.

Triton Hotel lobby.

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One Response to “Hotels Amenities: How important are they?”

  1. I always try to look for an older re-habbed hotel like the Ambassador in Milwaukee or the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis – loads more charm and quirkyness. A bar is a MUST (who doesn’t like to have a nightcap before turning in for the night?) and good lighting in the bathroom is always a plus.