San Francisco’s Beacon Grand is Exactly That

Those who well knew Beacon Grand’s former life as The Sir Francis Drake will likely not recognize the Union Square hotel in its current incarnation. Gone is the red and gold color scheme. Also absent are the kitschy Beefeater motifs that represented the San Francisco hotel icon. The transformation—at the hands of the award-winning design studio KKAD—is stunning, and affords both locals and San Francisco visitors an exceedingly elegant hospitality venue at which to spend an hour, or several days.

Beacon Grand ceiling detail

Beacon Grand’s new design honors the building’s Renaissance Revival architecture, yet, in working to preserve some of the more historic elements, a new vivacity is ironically unveiled. Old World meets New World, and it works. Regal crystal chandeliers sparkle overhead, and intricate parquet flooring is found underfoot. Gold gilt lines mirrors, and elaborately festooned ceilings are lightened to reveal their true majesty. Jewel tones have replaced the formerly predominant rouge theme. Varying hues of blue create a modern vibe—from a classic blue/gray that graces the The Post Room walls and lobby furnishings, to a deep Peacock shade found within guest rooms.

The Post Room

It’s refreshing to witness a hotel remodel that honors its roots, yet delivers everything a modern traveler desires. While in their zest to appeal to the current zeitgeist, other grand dame San Francisco hotels have capitulated to society’s generally casual air. Yet Beacon Grand remains just that—grand and stately, while also delivering modern amenities such as plentiful outlets, in-room coffee makers, and clothing steamers. A stay here feels special, and classically San Francisco.

The property’s 418 guestrooms now include a lavish selection of suites featuring one grand suite (with patio views of the city and a large soaking tub), one-bedroom suites, and junior suites. Spacious and elevated, each offers contemporary comforts as well as high ceilings and city views. Pullout couches make these accommodations a great option for families. In smaller, yet equally comfortable rooms, guests will find whimsical custom wallpaper that features San Francisco and California-centric elements: cable cars, sourdough loaves, poppies, and light beacons.

Beacon Grand Junior Suite
Beacon Grand wallpaper features California and San Francisco motifs

Perhaps Beacon Grand’s greatest new element is the The Post Room. Accessed via the striking flight of central stairs, the space offers a bit of something for everyone: a fireplace to ward off fog-chilled nights, a whisky closet filled with more than 120 labels, a quiet, wood-paneled library in which to work and/or dine, a 20-seat linear, light-filled bar, and a corner with a grand piano from which live music emanates weekly. Open for breakfast, and then again 5pm through the evening, this is the spot for crafted and barrel-aged cocktails; try the Heritage Old Fashioned, served with a logo embossed ice cube. Enjoy small bites and seasonally changing brunch and dinner fare. (Don’t miss the lobster ravioli.) And a rotating Wine Dinner Series features some of California’s finest wines paired with farm-to-table menus.

The Post Room Library

Finally, another Beacon Grand standout is its team of Social Hosts. Each Social Host is part concierge, co-conspirator, and connector, serving as a guide to San Francisco, and helping to secure exclusive restaurant reservations, or provide insider tips for exploring the City by the Bay.

Beacon Grand Lobby

Beacon Grand: 450 Powell St., San Francisco

Photos courtesy of Beacon Grand

Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.