San Francisco has a colorful history to say the least. What better way to explore it than staying in a hotel that is over a century old?
Take, for instance, The Marker, located on the corner of Geary and Taylor, just two blocks from Union Square. It is an excellent example of Beaux-Arts architecture, a style that was popularized by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from the 1830s through the end of the 19th century, which can be seen throughout major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New York and Chicago. This familiar style is a mixture of French neoclassicism with a dash of Gothic and Renaissance elements for flair.
To get some idea of the rich history of the hotel, a quick Google search provided this fun read from The San Francisco Call, via the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (one of my favorite rabbit holes), on the hotel’s impending opening, written in August of 1910:
BELLEVUE HOTEL TO OPEN SHORTLY
San Francisco to Have Another Million Dollar Hotel on August I
The new Bellevue hotel on Geary street is receiving the finishing touches and will be ready for guests by the first of August. Excepting Chicago and New York there is no other city in America which has so many magnificent hotels as San Francisco. The Bellevue makes the fourth hotel in this city which has cost more than $1,000,000.
When the Bellevue opens it will be the handsomest American plan hotel in this country. The grand lobby and main entrance are among the most impressive features. The entire ground floor, 137 feet square, is devoted entirely to the lobby and dining rooms. The soft, subdued sunlight pours into the lobby from three directions and makes it an ideal place for the gathering of the guests and patrons. The hotel hafe seven stories and a basement and is fireproof from top to bottom. There are 300 rooms, each supplied with bath and every modern facility to make guests comfortable and happy. As a matter of fact, every invention and modern appliance for the luxury and comfort of the guests has been installed in the Bellevue. The owners of this property, the Barron estate, will conduct the hotel under the name of Bellevue hotel company, with W. E. Zander as manager. The demand for an American plan hotel of such excellence Is evident from the satisfactory amount of business which is In prospect. “The success of this hotel is absolutely assured,” said Mr. Zander, the manager, “by the number of permanent guests who have already made reservations. You see, the hotel is now being finished, carpet layers are at work and furniture dealers are busy making deliveries, yet in the midst of this confusion we have many callers each day who desire to look over the hotel and make reservations. Already more than 160 apartments have been rented. Among some of the more prominent persons who have rented apartments at the Bellvue are ….. (names deleted)
“We shall not only cater to the better class of permanent guests,’-‘ says air. Zander, “but also to the tourist and transient trade who desire intelligent service and hotel excellence with exclusiveness not heretofore obtainable in our other hotels.”
Fast forward a century and some change and this seven-story Beaux Arts beauty has had a major facelift, is being managed by super hip Joie de Vivre Hotels and has reopened under the name The Marker. Many of the original features still exist, such as the impressive central fireplace with built-in benches, grand staircase, and some of the original historic stone floor has been complemented with patterned black and white tile.
As a nod to one of the city’s famous writers, Dashiell Hammett, who lived nearby when he wrote The Maltese Falcon, the designers of Perkins + Will have created an homage to his work with a 12-foot, theatrical bird cage in the lobby and copies of this famous novel on display in the newly appointed living room.
Another highlight is the newly refreshed restaurant, Tratto, which was “re-conceptualized” in 2016 by Puccini Group, Tratto is now a San Francisco neighborhood staple for locals and visitors alike, offering breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner, along with a selection of Californian and Italian wines and beers as well as a craft cocktail program. Be sure to go to the bar to order a Manhattan, served with an extra-large ice cube, and close your eyes and imagine the conversation you would be having with Mr. Hammett about the fine city of San Francisco.
The Marker makes a great base from which to explore the city, and the hotel offers bicycle rentals to do just that. The building is surrounded by the city’s most sought-after shopping, art galleries, restaurants, museums and theaters, including the Curran Theatre, A.C.T. and San Francisco Art Exchange. The hotel’s 208 guest rooms were updated in 2013, with rates starting at $229 per night, and are pet-friendly.
In celebration of the renovation, the property is offering a Making Your Mark(er) Package, for up to 30 percent off best available rates. The experience includes a three-course, chef-curated dinner for two at in-house Italian restaurant Tratto, complete with a welcome “film noir” cocktail. Each package comes with a copy of the famed Maltese Falcon novel and the opportunity for guests to make their mark by leaving a secret message in the books flanking the hotel’s imposing lobby fireplace.
Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.