We drove into the city and straight to the hotel, thanks to the help of the lady at the car hire place. Home for our 4 nights in San Francisco was the InterContinenal Mark Hopkins – 2 nights using the 2for1 Ambassador Certificate, 1 night using the Barclaycard free night and one on points at 50,000 a night before the devaluation*. I had upgraded the second two bookings with $100 cash to ensure that we would be in the same room throughout and the Ambassador upgrade would be applied for the duration – I did this by contacting the hotel direct and it worked a charm. For the 2for1 certificate, I booked a Club InterContinental Room at $469 a night knowing that this would give us breakfast and cocktail hours as well as snacks and drinks throughout the day. 3 days before check-in I looked at the prices again and saw that it had dropped down to $314, so I cancelled and rebooked without issue.
The upgrade processed as an Executive room which was on the 16th floor with a very impressive view. It was a large room with plenty of space, and a well appointed bath room.
It was in the same price point at the Club room but on checking with the online chat team, I was told that the Executive room does not come with Club access, so whilst I could have gone for that room at $314 and gambled on an upgrade to a suite, I felt that breakfast and cocktails would have more value to me. My last two experiences of suites, at Hilton Syon and Sofitel LHR T5Sofitel LHR T5 has led me to feel that they are fun, but unnecessary.
The hotel does not have a separate Club Lounge but offers a shared space with the restaurant. This works fine, but does not give the intimacy that the lounges in Madrid or Paris offer. Breakfast above is a buffet with a la carte options for non-club members. It was fine, but beaten hands down by the outstanding buffet at the Crowne Plaza SFO. The canapes on offer in the evening were also less impressive than other lounges, but were tasty enough. There were never more than 5 tables occupied so it was an exclusive feel.
The hotel has a well equipped gym on the lower ground floor with a number of machines that have integrated TVs, allowing one to catch up with all the trashy programmes a work out will allow. Perhaps my favourite things were the automated water filter machine and the towel fridge – yup, you read that right. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins offers cold towels to gym bunnies.
The crowning glory (pun intended) of the hotel is The Top of the Mark bar, on the 19th floor of the hotel. 90 years ago, the hotelier converted the penthouse into a bar with panoramic views of the city. Anyone can go to the bar, and drinks are reasonably priced; extensive cocktails are just $15. Ask for a table on the right as you enter for views over the Golden Gate Bridge and the sunset.
There is another InterContinental in the city – the IC San Francisco. This is a newer hotel with a much more modern design. Prices on points were the same, and cash rooms were slightly cheaper than the Mark Hopkins. It is not an iconic hotel, which was why I didn’t choose it, but I would give it a go next time I am in San Francisco.
*As I write, I am in a little dispute. My rewards night on points was reversed whilst we were staying and then today I have been charged again. This wouldn’t be an issue except for the fact that they have charged me at the post-devaluation rate, so I have been charged an extra 10,000 points. I will let you know how I get on!