Every city has that one cool spot everyone’s always trying to get into. San Francisco’s is The Battery, the members’ club with rooms (and a spa, and a restaurant, and four bars) that was hitherto only available to particularly in-the-know guests. But now, we can get you in: just tell ‘em Smith sent you…
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Battery Crush wine that's made with grapes from the hotel's vineyard in Sonoma
Room #1 is the lightest and brightest, and one of the better choices for longer city stays. If you’ve friends in town, book the 6,200sq ft Penthouse and invite them to join you at your 14-seat outdoor dining table…
Hide out from the city buzz in the steam room, sauna or over-sized hot tub. Book from the spa menu in advance to guarantee your deep-tissue bliss.
San Francisco’s the sort of city you’ll see best on foot, so come prepared for lots of walking (up hills) and avoiding rain, at any time of year.
All public spaces are wheelchair accessible; one guest room is wheelchair accessible, and one has features for hearing-impaired guests.
Well-behaved little ones are welcome. Sunday brunch is a family affair with special child-friendly activities.
For secluded Saturday night drinks, disappear into a booth or an oversized couch. Otherwise, a shared dining table or high-stooped bar perch is the way to go for the more social diners.
No need to dress up (West Coasters err towards the casual), but don’t dress too far down, either – a scarlet lip won’t go amiss.
717B shares its industrialesque good looks with the rest of the hotel, and the buzz starts at breakfast and continues all day till last call at the bar. Most of the ingredients you’ll find on the menu are naturally-sourced, seasonal and organic, and chef Nicolai Lipscomb is a dab hand at deliciousness. As such, you’ll need to book ahead to guarantee your table.
There are four – sample them all. First, enjoy a quiet cocktail at the sun-soaked Garden Bar. Later, head to the House Bar for small plates and craft cocktails. The Living Room Bar is an intimate setting with a weekly cocktail menu shaken up by the Battery’s resident mixologists, and the Musto Bar is the most exclusive drinking den.
Breakfast is served 7am–10.30am, and Sunday brunch 9am–2.30pm; grab lunch 1.30–2.30pm, Monday to Saturday; and you can dine till 10pm (10.30pm on Friday and Saturday). Last call for drinks is midnight (1am Friday and Saturday).
Room service is available, but 717B is well worth leaving your room for, too.
Up on the northern tip of the city, the Battery’s location makes exploring on foot easy.
A host of major airlines serve San Francisco Airport, about 40 minutes’ drive from the Battery. You’re equally likely to touch down at Oakland International Airport, just 25 minutes from the hotel.
The BART system skips the traffic and connects San Francisco to both SFO or OAK airports. And, the Amtrak Coast Starlight Line takes you north and south through California, if you’re travelling around the state.
You don’t really want to drive in San Francisco. Really. The traffic’s crazy, and the one-way system intimidating (and public transport and taxis are plentiful). But if you must, the hotel can help you find parking at a garage close by; the charge is usually around $50 a night.
The boats from the Ferry Building, a short walk from the hotel, can ferry you all around the bay, including to Sausalito and Marin County (www.sanfranciscobayferry.com).
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel's steam room and sauna will ease your stresses whether you're a tech giant or not, as will a spell in its peaceful garden – or maybe a yoga class or gym session (the hotel have top personal trainers on speed-dial). Feel even more rejuvenated with a walk along the Embarcadero waterfront, stopping to pick up a raw, organic juice at Pressed Juicery. Peckish? You can opt to continue the gastronomic experience with a visit to artisan-dense Ferry Building Marketplace (make sure Vietnamese eatery the Slanted Door is in your address book), or hop on board one of Hornblower’s unique cruises to catch that San Fran sea breeze while the beats of local DJs accompany you on the panoramic journey. Slightly further from the hotel, but well worth the adventure, is a bike ride through Presidio to capture that envious Golden Gate sunset shot, a night tour of Alcatraz, and seats at a San Francisco Giants game.
The hotel holds frequent art exhibitions and a diverse range of talks, but there's culture aplenty on your doorstep too. Famed indie bookstore City Lights hosts author readings, Pier 24 Photography displays sophisticated snaps, Et Al has cool contemporary work and the International Art Museum of America has a wide-ranging collection of paintings, portraiture and sculpture.
Gastro-loving turf and thirst-quenching bars are only a short stroll away, as are waterfront views along the Embarcadero. Worldwide flavours are prevalent: Yank Sing (49 Stevenson Street) provides what many dub the best dim sum in SF, Nopalito (1224 9th Ave – a direct tram ride away) is an organic, Mexican love affair for locals, and the impeccable design inside Hotel Zetta's the Cavalier (360 Jessie St) is the perfect setting for British-style brunch and a Bloody Mary. Step inside the red-brick exterior of Cotogna (490 Pacific Ave) for a dinner of rustic Italian cuisine made using only superior, Northern Californian products, and be tempted by the James and the Giant Peach or the Pacific Ave Punch on the cocktail menu. At the much hyped about PABU (101 California St), co-owned by celebrated chef Michael Mina, sit beneath the soft glow of Japanese lanterns and heavy timbers, and try out perfected culinary flavours of Izakaya-style dining. Not so peckish? Head to the dynamic bar, be inspired by its 35-page strong menu and remember that the comfiest of pillows will be waiting for you back at home, to rest any weary heads.
Hard Water has an enviable whiskey collection, which they serve by the dram or in curated flights. Look out for the limited runs and pair your pour with jalapeño hush-puppies and fried boudin balls. Eno Wine Bar has bottle-lined walls and an oenophile-pleasing list, while Bar 587 is a cosy brick-walled spot where barkeeps will create a bespoke cocktail for you on request.
It’s just after dark when my car pulls up in front of what is allegedly luxury hotel the Battery: a nondescript building on a quiet San Francisco side street. I step out of my Uber (the chariot of choice in this tech-obsessed city) and give the brick edifice a once over. I’m contemplating whether I’ve been duped by my driver, or if this is some sort of Alice in Wonderland magic trick where a turn through the door will lead to an alternate – and hopefully more design-centric – world. Then, a flock of laughing women spill through that very door and onto the street. Mystery solved.
A little context: the Battery itself is a members’ club-slash-hotel. A sort of Soho House for the tech set. And, like similar clubhouse concepts, it plays the role of meeting venue by day before converting into a hip, see-and-be-seen sort of place after dark.
I grab my bags, push through the aforementioned doors and find myself an unwitting guest of a buzzing Thursday night fete. To my left, cliques of women stroll up and down the stairs, cocktails in hand, and ahead, groups of friends crowd into dimly lit banquettes while others spill out onto a wide terrace, taking advantage of the mild California night.
If I weren’t still holding a boarding pass confirming that I’d just landed in San Francisco, I’d be inclined to think I was still in New York. The scene in the hotel is lively and sophisticated. ‘So this is where the city’s fashionable set have been hiding away,’ I think; though, the area’s de facto uniform – a fleece Patagonia pullover – was still on prominent display among the men. Signs are posted near the bar, instructing members to please put away their phones after 6pm – an effort to nudge guests in the direction of good, old-fashioned, app-free fun.
I finally spot a front desk discreetly tucked into a corner of the entry hall. Check-in is deftly handled, and moments later I’m in a glass elevator, rapidly rising above the fray and emerging into a quiet hallway. My room is generously sized by any city’s standards. The focal-point of the space, a sleek, metal four-poster bed with downy white linens, calls my name, but I’m meeting a friend in the bar, so I hold out. I peek into the bathroom (bigger than most New York studio apartments) and note an egg-shaped tub and sizable rain shower. Also, a super-soft robe (a hotel essential in my mind), which I want to hibernate in. But, my friend is waiting for me downstairs, so I splash water on my face and I’m soon headed to the lounge.
The evening passes in a blur of excellent California wines and even better bar food, especially the burgers. Unlike New York, the scene dies down early here, and soon I’m back upstairs donning that robe. I sneak a bite of the freshly-baked cookies left on my bedside table before switching off the light and slipping into bed.
In the morning, I rise and step out onto my narrow private terrace. It’s a little chilly for my AM cup of tea, but affords an engaging city view. When I emerge for breakfast, the lobby is transformed completely from its nighttime persona. In the previously-packed banquettes, a few duos confer in hushed tones as they pick at egg whites and avocado toast. There’s a subdued ‘power breakfast’ ambience.
I order my own plate of organic grains and eggs (when in California!) and stroll around admiring the masterful mid-century modern design. The Battery’s one of those places that breezily throws together velvet, metal, jewel tones and bold prints without looking over-the-top. I snap a picture of a chair that I’d like to relocate to my own living room and am quietly chastised by the staff. Like most members’ clubs, this is a strictly photo-free zone: there will be no artful ‘avo on toast’ Instagrams.
The hotel offers enticements aplenty: a spa, library, plenty of pretty nooks… But, I decide to explore the city after breakfast. I make it exactly one block on foot before seeking out an Uber. You see, the benefit of being one of the first businesses to gentrify an otherwise quiet, industrial neighborhood is great space, street cred and, of course, lower rents. The downside is that there’s not much to see in the Battery’s immediate vicinity. But, San Francisco is compact and nothing is ever more than a quick car ride away.
Upon my return, the same merry crowd greets me. And though I have already committed to a date with my room-service menu and a bubble bath, it’s a delight just to know that all the beautiful humans are buzzing about in the rooms below me.
All one can really ask for from an urban escape is a bit of possibility. Want a raucous night on the town? At the Battery you can indulge and still keep your hotel slippers on. Prefer a quiet escape far from the rabble? Your serene room will happily oblige. Suffice it to say, in San Francisco this place is undeniably one-of-a-kind.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Battery San Francisco’s Guestbook below.
The staff the musto bar the room meeting (some) locals.
Too much fuss… everything is discrete and elegant.