The Mark Hopkins Hotel
The best place to begin your festive Christmas “lobby hopping” is the landmark Mark Hopkins Hotel at One Nob Hill, one of San Francisco’s most loved historic hotels.
Here, you and your family will enjoy sharing your secret Christmas wishes with Santa before having a photo taken with him or his sleigh in front of the glittering Christmas tree. Then, perhaps, you ‘ll enjoy a free cup of hot cider and cookies or head up to the “Top of the Mark” for a magical holiday high tea or brunch.
The Top of the Mark
The Top of the Mark also celebrates Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with a traditional buffet. On New Year’s Day there’s both a champagne brunch and dinner buffet. New Year’s Eve is a classic formal affair with live entertainment and Cocktails + a 5-Course dinner and dance.
This Christmas season, the Top of the Mark cocktail lounge is also serving special “Twelve Days of Christmas Cocktails” with commemorative charms.
Not only at Christmas, but every night of the year, the Top of the Mark has become a “must-see” destination for visitors from all over the world for its breathtaking views of San Francisco and the Bay. Some might even be looking for a rendezvous with the nostalgic days of World War II.
During World War II, servicemen would buy and leave a bottle in the care of the bartender so that the next soldier from their squadron could enjoy a free drink, the only requirement being that whoever had the last sip was honor bound to buy another bottle. As they once said on the battlefront in WWII, “See you again at the Top of the Mark!”
Joe Ferragamo, Director of Food and Beverage, says, “When our wait staff learn that guests are active or retired military persons, they are invited to sign in the log book before enjoying a free shot of bourbon from a bottle that was purchased by a previous guest and left with the bartender, after inscribing it with personal words of appreciation.”
Call the Holiday Desk at 415-616-6941
To continue your “lobby hopping”, walk across the street from the Mark Hopkins, to find
The Fairmont Hotel
For more than a century the Fairmont has enchanted guests with its joyful holiday festivities and exuberant ambiance. The highlight in the hotel’s grand lobby is a two-story giant Gingerbread House lovingly built with a completely edible exterior.
The event is open to the public and offers guests complimentary holiday refreshments and heart-warming music while Santa Claus, a Balloon Elf and a Christmas Fairy pose for photos. Friends of Fido delight in the pet-friendly hotel’s Gingerbread Doghouse, located right next to the North Pole Nook.
This year, the gingerbread house’s railroad track, a favorite feature, has been extended with more holiday characters and moving parts.
Once again, an enchanting 23-foot-tall Christmas tree tickles the center of the ceiling in the elegant lobby.
The Scarlet Huntington Hotel’s Big 4 Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge
On Mason Street, just two blocks from the grand Fairmont, you’ll happen upon the lobby of the boutique Scarlet Huntington Hotel, which is most famous for its Big 4 Restaurant and clubby Cocktail Lounge next door. Here, late into the evening, guests are delightfully transported back to the magical music of the 40’s and 50’s and find what many consider to be the best piano player in San Francisco
“Night and Day” puts you in the mood the minute you walk into the cave-like dimness of the bar. As your eyes adjust, it feels like you have walked into a piece of San Francisco history. You can see people huddled around the carved wooden fireplace and round cocktail tables etched with the lounge’s namesakes. The elegant early California décor of rich green leather banquettes and sparkling beveled glass are surrounded by an interesting collection of Gold Rush and Western Railroad memorabilia.
Established in 1976, the Big 4 Restaurant was named after the “Big Four” industrialists- Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford and Mark Hopkins, famed railroad tycoons of the nineteenth century who played a vital role in San Francisco’s early development.
The Big 4 Restaurant offers some of San Francisco’s finest cuisine.
From the corner of the Big 4 Restaurant, cross the street to Grace Cathedral, the perfect spot to find a sense of peace and count your Christmas blessings. The architecture of the cathedral is the towering French Gothic style. Built in 1849 as little Grace Chapel, it now opens its main bronze doors, replicas of Ghiberti’s famed Renaissance doors, to visitors every day.
High in the tower is a carillon of 44 English bells and there are 68 beautiful stained glass windows by noted artists. On the floor of the nave, visitors can walk the narrow winding labyrinth path of meditation. An archetype found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world, Grace Cathedral’s labyrinth is a replica of the labyrinth laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220.
The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys is accompanied by a full orchestra of favorite Christmas carols and holiday masterpieces, a much loved San Francisco tradition. Tickets are on sale at www.cityboxoffice.com.
In addition, the American Bach Choir and four leading soloists present their celebrated annual Christmas performance of Handel’s Messiah.
Tickets available at www.americanbach.org or call (415) 621-7900.