While there’s little chance of not finding a good hotel in San Francisco, it is not, with its close to 100K rooms, New York City; one has to do a bit of work when choosing the right place to lay one’s head. But a recent stay at the newly opened Proper Hotel – a member of Design Hotels and smack in the middle of the action on Market Street – was an almost flawless experience.
Sporting a sexy lobby and adjacent resto/bar, the rooms were compact but inviting, the view of SF’s main thoroughfare outside the arched windows both urban and urbane. True, walking that area of Market does give one an up-close look at the results of California’s benevolent attitude towards society’s less fortunate; yet once enveloped in the Proper’s hip embrace all that fades away. And from up on the hotel’s opulent rooftop bar, it was hard to really notice what was happening eight stories below (shades of Blade Runner, we know).
While we made the most of our time before heading back to chilly Manhattan – posing in front of the Grateful Dead house in the Haight, checking out the vintage shopping, grabbing vegan sushi and excellent Mexican food in the Mission, and strolling the Marina, pretending we were tech billionaires – we were genuinely excited to return to the Proper every evening.
While the room options include the typical twin, deluxe, and suite, all sumptuously turned out…they also have bunk beds! Grab a friend, split the cost, and agree that the tipsiest at the end of the night gets the bottom.
In-room amenities are select but distinct, and include individual TVs and USB ports in each bunkbed; Aesop toiletries in the loo; and handsome Vifa Helsinki wireless loudspeakers. We were also duly impressed with the extremely well stocked mini bar.
Also, we’ve been digging Shinola products for a few years now and were psyched to find that the Proper offers top-of-the-line bicycles from the Detroit based company; thankfully San Francisco has plenty of bike lanes, and at least a few streets that don’t rise at 45-degree angles.
Villon, the hotel’s ground floor restaurant, presents itself as an extension of the lobby, in which patrons spill into for drinks; very West Coast casual. The dining options are anything but, however, with baby back ribs with feuilles de brick and nuoc mam cham, and scallops with hoshigaki, XO Sauce, persimmon, and yellow yuzu kosho the standouts (we had to ask for explanations too). While their Everything Hawaiian Bread, with cultured butter, market reserves, blood orange chicken liver mousse, was new to us, we became instant fans.
New York and LA have long figured out that putting a bar on the top of a hotel, exposed to the elements, creates a FOMO mania akin to staying inside during an eclipse. Something about being high up and outside makes drinks go down so much better (not that we need much help). From the day it opened the Proper’s rooftop, Charmaine’s, has been a total scene, to the point that a line regularly forms outside the street side entrance (hotel guests get to use the much comfier inside entry). Once topside, we luxuriated around fire pits – with really fiery fire we might add – sipping fancy pants libations such as A Scratch in the Sky, which features Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac, Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, lemon verbena, mace, lemon, and egg whites (p.s. not that kind of mace).
It’s safe to say we had to drag ourselves back to New Year’s Eve celebrations in Manhattan. But we’re already itching to return to the Proper, especially for the impending opening of their hip new cafe La Bande. We’ll see you there.