Review: Four Seasons San Francisco At Embarcadero

Review: Four Seasons San Francisco At Embarcadero

NAME: Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero
LOCATION: San Francisco, California
DATE: December 2021
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: The Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero has the best views from any hotel in San Francisco, and also has beautifully renovated rooms and great service. Once the hotel's restaurant and other amenities open, this hotel will be amazing.
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EXTRA PERKS AVAILABLE Enjoy breakfast, upgrades, & more

Want to take advantage of Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits, including a space available room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.

During our recent trip to California (where I also reviewed Alila Marea Encinitas), we spent a night at the new Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero. The hotel has breathtaking views (it’s the highest hotel in San Francisco) and extremely friendly service, though the hotel hasn’t quite reached its full potential yet.

Booking the Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero

For our date, the nightly rate at the Four Seasons was around $420 when booking in advance, though pricing does vary considerably (closer to our stay, the rate was roughly $600). The best way to book any Four Seasons hotel is through a Preferred Partner travel advisor. When booking through Preferred Partner you pay the same rate you’ll find directly on Four Seasons’ website, but you’ll receive extra perks, including the following:

  • A room upgrade, subject to availability
  • Complimentary daily breakfast
  • A hotel credit to use during your stay

Four Seasons Preferred Partner is generally combinable with promotions being offered directly through Four Seasons, like a third or fourth night free offer. Note that booking Four Seasons properties through Preferred Partner is better than booking through programs like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. Why?

  • With Preferred Partner you have the option of room service breakfast in place of restaurant breakfast (though that’s a moot point at this hotel, since currently only room service breakfast is available
  • Upgrades are prioritized for Preferred Partner bookings, given that it’s Four Seasons’ own proprietary program (and the value of an upgrade at a hotel can be significant)
  • You can combine Preferred Partner perks with virtually any rate on Four Seasons’ website (other programs don’t allow you to stack promotions in the same way)

You can’t beat getting all of these extra perks just for booking through an eligible travel advisor. Ford is of course more than happy to help anyone book Four Seasons properties through Preferred Partner, and can be reached at [email protected] He doesn’t charge any booking fees for Four Seasons properties.

Full disclosure — Ford got a travel agent rate here. To be honest, it wasn’t that much cheaper than the best published rate if you were to factor in the $100 food & beverage credit we would have gotten through Preferred Partner.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero location

The Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero is located in the 345 California Center building, at 222 Sansome Street. The hotel takes up the top floors of the 48-story building, making it the highest hotel in San Francisco. It’s so awesome to have a hotel that occupies the top floors of a high-rise, rather than the bottom floors (the latter seems to be most common nowadays).

The hotel has a great location, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just a few blocks to the Ferry Building, and a few blocks to Chinatown. Interestingly the hotel is also quite close to the Four Seasons San Francisco (the one that doesn’t have the Embarcadero branding).

Four Seasons San Francisco in 345 California Center

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero history

There’s an interesting backstory to this hotel, in case the building and views sound familiar. This was originally the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, which opened back in 1986. Then in 2015 the hotel was sold, and it was rebranded as the Loews Regency San Francisco. Then the hotel was sold again in 2019, at which point it closed for renovations and was rebranded as the Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero.

The Four Seasons is the hotel’s third brand. The Four Seasons finally opened in October 2020, but then closed again in December 2020, given the lack of demand due to coronavirus. The hotel then finally reopened in May 2021, and has been open ever since. I don’t envy operating a hotel in San Francisco right now, given that the city was so dependent on conventions and business travel, and that’s something that hasn’t recovered all that much yet.

The other interesting element here is that Four Seasons is doing a full renovation of the hotel, and that’s still a work in progress. While the hotel will eventually have 155 rooms, only 40% of those rooms are currently operational, as the rest are still being renovated. Fortunately they’re doing this floor-by-floor, and we didn’t notice any noise issues.

It’s also worth noting that the hotel doesn’t yet have a restaurant or spa, but rather the only amenities are in-room dining and a gym. That should change soon, and I’ll talk more about that below.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero lobby & check-in

The Four Seasons has an entrance off Sansome Street. When we arrived at the hotel we were promptly welcomed by the friendly bellmen, and directed to the front desk.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero entrance

Reception was located just inside the lobby, and our check-in process was quick and friendly. Four Seasons consistently has phenomenal employees, and this hotel was no exception.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero reception

There’s not a whole lot to the lobby as of now, aside from some Christmas decorations — it’s just a small space. There’s an area to the side of the lobby that will eventually become the hotel’s signature restaurant, but it’s not yet operational.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero lobby
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero lobby
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero lobby

The elevators are located at the end of the hallway. One thing I love about this hotel is that you can take a single elevator from the ground floor all the way to your room. Many hotels with guest rooms at the top of a building require you to take two sets of elevators, so it’s awesome to be on a high floor while only having to take a single elevator ride (and the elevators here are fast).

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero elevators

Guest rooms at the Four Seasons are on floors 36 through 48, though I believe only the top several floors are operational as of now.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite

We were assigned room 4714, a corner suite on the 47th floor.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero elevators

The single coolest thing about the Four Seasons Embarcadero is the views, and what enhances that is that each hotel floor has a glass “bridge” that connects the two sides of the building.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero glass bridge

How unreal are these views?!?! I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these might just be the best views from a hotel hallway anywhere in the world…

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero views

If you go to the 48th floor, there’s even an “EYE SPY” feature, where you can scan a QR code and then identify various landmarks in the city.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero EYE SPY feature

Our room was located at the end of a hallway, and it had two sets of doors, so that presumably the two rooms next to each other could be turned into one room if needed.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero hallway

The corner suites at the Four Seasons Embarcadero are 575 square feet, so they’re more junior suites than full suites (the “real” suites are marketed as being one-bedroom suites). It goes without saying that the second we stepped into the room, our eyes were immediately drawn outside to the views.

Anyway, the room as such was beautifully appointed, as you’d expect from Four Seasons.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite

The room had a signature Four Seasons bed, which I consider to be the best hotel bed out there.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite

The living area featured a lounger chaise, a chair, a dining table with a chair, and a wall-mounted TV. The room primarily had hardwood floors, and then there was a nice carpet in the living room area. Waiting on the dining table was a welcome amenity, consisting of some fresh fruit and popcorn.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite

Back towards the entrance was the minibar area, which had a Nespresso coffee machine and a tea kettle.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite

Interestingly there was no stocked minibar, but rather just a mini-fridge. However, we were given a sheet at check-in explaining that the minibar could be stocked on request, and this was part of the property’s policy of minimizing the number of people entering rooms.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite

The bathroom was back towards the entrance, and featured a sink, a soaking tub, a walk-in shower, and a toilet.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite bathroom
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite bathroom
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite shower

Toiletries were from CODAGE Paris — this was my first time using these toiletries, and I quite liked them.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero toiletries

Of course the highlight of the room was the views in every direction. Simply amazing.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite views
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite views

Ford and I both usually sleep best when a room is really dark, but in this case we couldn’t help but keep the curtains open, because it seemed like a shame not to with views like this. In the morning we were treated to an incredible sunrise.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite views
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero corner suite views

The views were even better from the glass bridge down the hallway.

Four Seasons Embarcadero views

It goes without saying that the pièce de résistance of our room (and the hotel in general) is the view, but even beyond that the room was beautifully and functionally appointed.

However, I didn’t get the sense that this was a “no expenses spared” renovation, as we’ve seen at some other Four Seasons properties. I imagine a hotel being renovated during the pandemic doesn’t exactly help with that, especially in a market like San Francisco, which is recovering slowly.

For example, the curtains and blinds in the room were manual, rather than electric. Furthermore, while the bathroom was beautiful, it didn’t have double sinks and the toilet wasn’t partitioned off, etc. (in fairness, making major changes to bathrooms and plumbing in buildings like this can be very costly).

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero room service breakfast

Currently the only food available at the Four Seasons Embarcadero is through in-room dining. You can find the hotel’s breakfast menu here, and find the hotel’s all-day dining menu here. Breakfast is served from 6AM until 11:30AM, and we had an excellent room service breakfast, which is also included with Four Seasons Preferred Partner.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero breakfast
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero breakfast

We ordered a berry parfait to share.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero breakfast

Then I had the avocado toast with poached eggs.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero breakfast

Ford had the two scrambled eggs with breakfast potatoes and turkey bacon.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero breakfast

As is standard at Four Seasons properties, there was also complimentary coffee in the lobby in the morning, which is a feature I love.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero complimentary coffee

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero gym

Four Seasons properties consistently have very good gyms, and this property is no exception. The hotel’s gym is located on the third floor, and it features a great selection of cardio and weight equipment. The gym is open 24/7, and you’re asked at check-in if you plan to use it. In the event that you do, your vaccine card is checked, in line with current guidelines in San Francisco.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero gym
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero gym
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero gym
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero gym
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero gym
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero gym
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero gym

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero service

With the limited services being offered by the hotel at the moment, admittedly interactions with staff were fairly limited. However, every employee we interacted with was friendly, from the bellmen, to the front desk agents, to the in-room dining staff.

Because of how few rooms are in operation right now, this really does feel like a boutique hotel. For example, some of the staff welcomed us back by name after returning to the hotel, which is always a nice touch. That’s one benefit of so few rooms being in operation right now.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero restaurant & spa plans

The Four Seasons Embarcadero is still a work in progress, so what can we expect in the future? The Four Seasons is supposed to open a ground floor signature restaurant in 2022. There are no details yet on what kind of a restaurant it will be or who the chef is behind it, though hopefully we learn more soon.

Currently the restaurant section next to the lobby is just roped off. Below are some pictures of what the space looks like, though note that it still has the old decor from when the hotel was a Loews, so expect the decor to change completely.

Four Seasons San Francisco Embarcadero restaurant

While not open yet, it’s expected that the Four Seasons Embarcadero will have a Sky Deck on the 40th floor. The building has some outdoor space there, so we’ll see what exactly the hotel chooses to do with it, and whether it’s just used for events, or if it eventually turns into a bar. Suffice to say this could be an incredible space (below are a couple of pictures from Four Seasons’ website that give you a sense of this potential venue).

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero Sky Deck
Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero Sky Deck

Furthermore, both the Mandarin Oriental and Loews had a spa, located on the third floor, near the gym. While no official plans have been announced yet, it’s my understanding that a spa is under consideration, and could be opened here.

Bottom line

The Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero is one of Four Seasons’ newest properties in the United States, and there’s a lot to like about the hotel. I feel confident saying that the Four Seasons has the best views from any hotel in San Francisco, and some of the best views from any city hotel in the United States. That’s something really special. On top of that, the hotel has newly renovated rooms, friendly service, a good gym, and a solid in-room dining menu.

That being said, this hotel is still a work in progress — a signature restaurant should be opening soon, and we may also see a spa and amazing outdoor space on the 40th floor at some point in the future. Admittedly those are amenities that some people value greatly, so this hotel isn’t for everyone for the time being.

For now I’d recommend staying at the Four Seasons Embarcadero if you care a lot about views and an intimate-feeling property. Meanwhile if you’re someone who likes a lively hotel with a popular restaurant & bar, this isn’t the place to stay… for now.

This stay was a good reminder of how uneven the travel recovery is in the United States. While hotels in Florida are busier than pre-coronavirus, San Francisco hotels still really seem to be struggling.

What do you make of the Four Seasons Embarcadero?

EXTRA PERKS AVAILABLE Enjoy breakfast, upgrades, & more

Want to take advantage of Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits, including a space available room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.

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Conversations (31)
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  1. F. Guest

    Recognising a guest by name is such a cool but also an odd thing, especially if the hotel has a lot of rooms. Do you have an idea of how the staff can remember all the name correctly? I think they can use a face recognising technology, but what about the privacy?

  2. Radu Guest

    Wow, with rooms so high I bet it's impossible to see the homeless downstairs.

  3. Boston Elite New Member

    I like the concept they applied to the mini bar - if you want it, we will fill it. I much prefer and appreciate having an emply mini-fridge I can fill with a 6 pack of seltzer I bought outside rather than a $60 mini bottle of champagne that I will never touch (and yet still magically be charged for 20% of the time...).

    1. Mark Guest

      You're claiming to be charged for the bottle of champagne that you didn't use 20% of the time?

      Garbage.

  4. Malc Member

    @Lucky or @Tiffany -- A typo: "Four our date, the nightly rate ..." > should be "For our date ..."

  5. Jim Guest

    When it was a Loews they ran a seasonal bar on the sky deck in the summer. The space is pretty small. They basically just rolled out a bar cart. The views are great though. It was open to the public.

  6. Hepworth Guest

    Lucky, was there an intro for a trip report? Curious about the reason for the trip. San Francisco and Encinitas aren’t exactly nearby (though I guess relative to Florida . . . ). Any restaurant reviews combing? San Fran has some amazing restaurants, and after Paris it seemed like you were starting to really get interested in the whole Michelin experience.

  7. Timo Gold

    Having lived in SF and worked in Financial District for 8 years I can attest to some incredible views all around town...even a dumpy apartment near Alamo Square can have surprising views of the bay from the rear courtyard. But like every outdoor space in SF you are at the mercy of the fog! When it rolls in like a freight train at 3pm in mid-July and the temp plummets from 75 to 53 degrees...

    Having lived in SF and worked in Financial District for 8 years I can attest to some incredible views all around town...even a dumpy apartment near Alamo Square can have surprising views of the bay from the rear courtyard. But like every outdoor space in SF you are at the mercy of the fog! When it rolls in like a freight train at 3pm in mid-July and the temp plummets from 75 to 53 degrees within an hour and the sky goes completely grey with no more sunlight...you will flee that 40F sky deck!

  8. Gavin Smith Guest

    To be honest, for a "luxury" hotel, not good planning to open with no dining facilities and a lack of spa or finished public areas. Hardly a good advert or reason to stay until it is actually finished. So $600 for basically a nice room with a view.

  9. Steven E Guest

    Stayed here when it was MO - always seemed very busy with business people - I’m sure it will look very nice when fully completed , I hope the street problems also start to improve as it was a little depressing

  10. West Coast Flyer Guest

    Every time I see a highrise like this I'm reminded of that movie The Towering Inferno: "Now, you know there's no sure way for us to fight a fire in anything over the seventh floor, but you guys just keep building 'em as high as you can."

  11. Stuart Guest

    I used to love this hotel when it was an MO. Never quite understood what happened to them there as it was often very full and busy. With that, I still can't quite figure out what MO's strategy is in North America. Or if they even have one when you consider the properties they had and lost (Atlanta, Kahala, San Francisco). Even my hometown DC one has lost a lot of its original uniqueness and is in desperate need of a revamp.

    1. David Diamond

      Didn't they also lose Vegas MO? One of the only luxury hotel that isn't attached to a casino in Vegas.

    2. GSHLGB New Member

      Yes - wasn't a great property middle strip, area... Now a Conrad or some other Hilton Flag.

      Desperate need of a renovation

    3. mdande7 Gold

      Now a Waldorf and in the process of a big renovation.

  12. SF Resident Guest

    I disagree about this being a good location. The financial district has always been a bit dull, mostly full of commercial office space, resulting in the area becoming pretty dead after work. Post-COVID, it's even more dead because so many people are still working from home.

    Location wise for luxury hotels in SF, I'd much rather stay at one of the places near the top of Nob Hill (Fairmont, Ritz, etc.), or stay in SOMA...

    I disagree about this being a good location. The financial district has always been a bit dull, mostly full of commercial office space, resulting in the area becoming pretty dead after work. Post-COVID, it's even more dead because so many people are still working from home.

    Location wise for luxury hotels in SF, I'd much rather stay at one of the places near the top of Nob Hill (Fairmont, Ritz, etc.), or stay in SOMA (St. Regis, W, the other Four Seasons). Both neighborhoods are much more lively than the Financial District (and places that locals actually visit). The views are just as good from the top of Nob Hill.

    1. shza Member

      Agree completely. My old office was a block from this place (and is shown in some of the photos). There are a few decent restaurants (Taddich, Perbacco) and some just-after-work-type bars in the neighborhood, but it's a little like staying in Wall Street/NYC financial district -- pretty dead at night.

    2. Vito Guest

      Also agree. FS views look nice, but not nicer than in Fairmont’s Tower or Mark Hopkins. And Nob Hill or Union Square are much more interesting neighborhoods, IMO.

  13. shoeguy Guest

    Thank goodness they finally got rid of the red marble bathrooms that were a feature of the Mandarin Oriental.

  14. Pete Diamond

    I think you mean “no expenses spared”?

    1. Lukas Gold

      Yeah, "all expenses spared" belongs to a review of a Quality Inn :D

  15. EthaninSF Member

    The Sky deck was open under the previous hotel brands, although it felt more like an afterthought (just a few benches and a makeshift bar). As long as it wasn't too windy (which it can be all the way up there), it was an amazing space for a cocktail and views. The space is a bit on the small side, but worthy of a visit. I know the (previous) hotel used it from time to...

    The Sky deck was open under the previous hotel brands, although it felt more like an afterthought (just a few benches and a makeshift bar). As long as it wasn't too windy (which it can be all the way up there), it was an amazing space for a cocktail and views. The space is a bit on the small side, but worthy of a visit. I know the (previous) hotel used it from time to time for private events, but never really seemed to advertise it much. Hopefully, Four Seasons will utilize the space and make it more of a landmark bar. When our weather cooperates, it could be one of the best outdoor bars in the city, which SF sorely lacks.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      “When our weather cooperates”

      An excellent point. Our weather is great, *unless* what you want is warm outdoor seating in the evening. I can only imagine what the wind is like 40 floors up. Only a significant investment in heaters would make that space usable except on a handful of nights.

    2. Super Guest

      Maybe tall glass shielding to block the wind + space heaters? Still get the views and you're still technically outdoors.

    3. EthaninSF Member

      Having been there on a sunny afternoon, it was great, but then the wind picked up and things started flying around!!! Again, hoping 4 Seasons designs the space to be a much more usable spot, because the views are incredible.

  16. Anthony Diamond

    Stayed there a couple of times when it was a Loews. Great location for work and for leisure. The lobby restaurant / bar was usually pretty popular, including with locals. I remember enjoying the gym. I generally stay in this area when visiting town (here, Le Meridian, Hyatt Regency, Vitale, etc) and will check it out again when everything is open.

  17. Justin Guest

    typo on the first word

  18. Never In Doubt Guest

    Those views are a big reason why I’ve lived in San Francisco for 25 years.

    1. miamiorbust Guest

      Yeah, the views allow people to look beyond the dump that is street life in SF now. So many interesting places to be in the world right now. Why waste time with a naval gazing city that has lost its narrative? Hard pass.

    2. shoeguy Gold

      It's a beautiful city with a lot to offer in terms of culture, views, and history. Same can't be said for Miami, even if it is the sixth borough of NYC.

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miamiorbust Guest

Yeah, the views allow people to look beyond the dump that is street life in SF now. So many interesting places to be in the world right now. Why waste time with a naval gazing city that has lost its narrative? Hard pass.

4
Gavin Smith Guest

To be honest, for a "luxury" hotel, not good planning to open with no dining facilities and a lack of spa or finished public areas. Hardly a good advert or reason to stay until it is actually finished. So $600 for basically a nice room with a view.

1
Super Guest

Maybe tall glass shielding to block the wind + space heaters? Still get the views and you're still technically outdoors.

1
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