Palace Hotel San Francisco, California

palace-hotel_san-fancisco_california_heritage-travel-siteClose your eyes and imagine a Grand Hotel, and you’ve likely envisioned a place much like the Palace Hotel, which has 553 rooms and suites spread over nine floors.

This Beaux-Arts gem has been consistently ranked among the world’s top luxury hotels ever since the Palace opened its doors in 1875. It’s easy to see why. The Garden Court, with its celebrated glass dome, unveiled in 1909, became the place to host weddings, dances and parties. Dining there today provides a taste of the opulence and grandeur of that time.

The dome (really more of a curved ceiling) consists of 72,000 individual glass pieces, which take on different hues throughout the day, from delicate ambers to rich cobalt blues. “It’s so beautiful,” spokeswoman Renee Roberts says. “You walk in the door, and you feel that history right away.”

The Garden Court is famous for its Sunday brunches. Its Dungeness crab salad, served with the hotel’s signature Green Goddess dressing, has been on the menu since the early 1900s. (Executive chef Phillip Roemer invented the dressing in 1923 for a banquet to honor George Arliss, the lead actor in William Archer’s hit play “The Green Goddess.”)

A Who’s Who of notables—among them adventurers Richard Byrd and Amelia Earhart, entertainers Enrico Caruso and Sophia Loren, writers D.H. Lawrence and Oscar Wilde, inventors Thomas Edison and Bill Gates, politicos Winston Churchill and Nikita Khrushchev, and a host of American presidents—have stayed at the Palace Hotel.

The Pied Piper Bar & Grill, named for the Maxfield Parrish mural that hangs in the restaurant, is noted for its truffle fries and its martinis. You gotta love any place as stylish as the Pied Piper that serves fried chicken with buttermilk biscuits.

For a taste of Palace history, try the hotel’s Historic Tour and Lunch package, offered three times a week.

$189-$2,900


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