“Perfectly positioned and immaculate full service hotel with buzzy bar and restaurant”
Uncluttered contemporary rooms and suites come in several configurations, providing complete flexibility and truly something for everyone.
Light sleeper? Then request a Tranquil Interior Room (either a king or 2 queens, state your preference when booking) which has a view of the (slightly unprepossessing) courtyard so is as a consequence dead quiet.
Wanting to people watch? Urban Studios overlook Mission and Stuart Streets through huge picture windows.
Intent on romance? Book either a Partial Water-View Room for its picture windows with partial harbour views, or the Embarcadero Water-View Room for that big Bay view of the Bridge, Treasure Island and Ferry Building, and additional bay window loveseats and chaise longues from which to soak it all in.
Travelling en famille? The Family Studio, which has 2 queens or king and a sofabed, plus dining table for four, will suit just fine. Here to paint the town? Chances are you'll not be in your room much so the SF City-View Room may be the one for you, which also comes in king or 2 queen varieties. And for honeymooners, celebrations, special occasions or for the sheer extravagance of it, the Terrace Studios, Deluxe Panoramic Circular Suites and Landmark Terrace Suite are the cat's pyjamas.
We were fortunate enough to be in the Panoramic Suite, staying at Hotel Vitale for our wedding anniversary. We were impressed to find petals on the kingsize bed, champagne on ice and a card from housekeeping - a very charming touch. We delighted in the view of the Bay Bridge, especially fine at dawn (we had not managed to locate the remote control that operated the black out blinds), as well as from the deep soaking tub, positioned to take advantage of the view.
All rooms have the same soothing palette of soft blue and taupe, large comfortable beds with 440-thread count linens and customised duvets, and limestone spa bathrooms with rainhead showers. You also get a desk and ergonomic chair along with an indulgent well stocked mini-fridge plus ample snack bar (with healthy and decadent options), best sampled while relaxing with one of the excellent coffee table books provided. Other amenities in the rooms include an ambient noise machine (set it to ocean, rain, white noise or nature sounds), iron and ironing board, shoeshine bag and separate recycling bin. Bathrobes and slippers, hairdryer, organic 'Lather' toiletries and oxygen canisters are in all bathrooms.
In keeping with the 'vitality' theme, the artwork throughout is close-up photographs of leaves, flowers, branches and buds. Sprays of lavender are outside each door; orchids, bamboo and wood keep the feel natural and the spirit soothed.
Hotel Vitale's Americano Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge occupies the Embarcadero-side ground floor with views onto the water and Bay Bridge, and is as popular with local groovers and shakers as it is with business types. Service is excellent.
Although large, the space feels intimate with warm wooden floors, soft lighting and natural colours and textures. The Cocktail Lounge has a circular frontage to maximise views of the water and Bay Bridge. Adjacent to the bar is the Bay view patio with heaters for drinks with a view. At the other end of the ground-floor restaurant are spaces which can be velvet-curtained off for private dining and events.
The seasonally changing Italian-influenced menu has been conceived by Executive Chef Paul Arenstam with the concept of farm-to-table in mind, capitalising on the excellence of the produce sourced from the Farmers' Market at the Ferry Building - been dubbed an 'Italifornian' style of cooking.
The menu deftly juggles the capricious demands of its varied clientele. So if you're propping up the bar after work or want a lighter lunch (these are all available 11.30am-11pm), classy bar snacks to choose may include Bruschette such as duck confit with cannellini bean puree and pickled shallots or Pacific prawns with romesco al forno; antipasti like artichoke and brussels sprouts fritti or heritage pork meatballs or grilled asparagus. Italian flair is also seen in the pizza and panini dishes - the diners next to us were loving their pizza funghi with fontina and black truffle oil and Toscana with salame, mozzarella and tomatoes.
More formal fare is served 11.30am-2.30apm and 5.30-10pm. We visited in late spring and started with the mushroom and spring fennel soup, scallops with lemon zest on a sweep of green pea puree. Our chosen entrees were Petrale sole piccata on brown rice and hearts of palm, and chicken with asparagus, mushrooms and spring garlic. Sides included polenta with mascarpone and chives, spicy parmesan shoestring fries with aioli. We simply didn't have room for the pasta/polenta/risotto course, (next time we'd try the tagliatelle with Manila clams, broccoli, lemon and garlic or risotto with fava beans and asparagus), as we had our eye on the exquisite chocolate torte nestled in a salty caramel sauce with mint-flavoured ice cream on top, instead.
The wine list is a veritable manual of Italian wine, with a pleasing emphasis on esoteric out of the way wineries - we went for the wine flight where you get three glasses of red or white, a great accompaniment to our meal. The list also pays homage to local Californian bounty with several 100 to choose from. Of course every other beverage is available, including some very interesting looking cocktails including the Americano made with campari, and their own versions of classics: bellini (pricky pear puree), martini (Lillet Blanc & lemon twist) and hot toddy made with quince.
Breakfast is served either in-room (room service is 24 hour) or in the Americano restaurant until 10.30am Monday to Friday, and until 11.30am weekends. Choose from the light selection - such as housemade granola or smoked salmon plate or Italian continental (artisanal meats and cheese, sliced fruit) - or bakery items like banana pancakes and French toast. The eggs menu includes eggs any style including Benedict, 2 kinds of omelette, poached with short ribs and my choice, the signature dish of wild mushroom scramble with truffle oil, which was sublime. Beverages run the full gamut from organic coffee (served every which way from Americano, natch, to mocha) via forest mint and equator chai to all colour of juices including pomegranate.
San Francisco is deservedly renowned for the high standard of its cuisine with its emphasis on fresh local ingredients, and is a standard bearer for the Slow Food movement. So dining out is a pleasure. Within a few minutes walk of Vitale you could try Boulevard opposite (French influenced), Aqua (elegantly sculpted fish dishes), Slanted Door in the Ferry Building (modern Vietnamese), Waterbar (seafood), LaMar (nuevo Peruvian), One Market (contemporary classic Californian) and Epic Roasthouse ('beyond the traditional steak house').
Children are welcome here, but in truth the hotel is better suited for adults as there are few facilities specifically for kids. If you don't need them this is a great choice: San Francisco is a great family destination and Vitale is in a fab location for a whole array of activities and attractions.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The spacious Family Suites have a sofabed and dining table for 4. Some of the Tranquil Interior Rooms and SF City-View Rooms also have a single sofabed, and most rooms can fit a baby cot.
Not available through the hotel as yet, but the concierge may be able to help source an external sitter/nanny if necessary.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There's 24-hour room service with kid-friendly options; the restaurant Americano serves sophisticated yet child-friendly pizzas. It's an easy walk to some sensational eateries, including the Farmer's Market (Tues, Thurs and Sat am). No bottle warming/baby food options.