There was a time, a few years back, when haute San Franciscans were rarely found at an elegant and happening hotel bar — simply because there were no modern and sleek hotel bars. Yes, there were a few exceptions: the Americano at the Hotel Vitale has always attracted a chic (if not rowdy) crowd on warm evenings and when the Clock Bar opened at the Westin St. Francis in 2008, everyone hoped that the hotel bar would finally make a victorious comeback.
However, it’s taken time for the hotel bar scene to shift from stuffy to scintillating, but finally with openings and remodels that have occurred over the past eighteen months, it has hit its stride. To celebrate the fact that hotel bars have finally gone hip, we’ve created the following hotel bar crawl for your drinking pleasure.
Start your journey at Parallel 37, the bar at the Ritz Carlton. The square-shaped bar separates the restaurant from the spacious lounge area that’s dotted with couches and low tables. There’s a private dining room and a visible chef’s kitchen, so this is by far, the ritziest of new hotel bars in SF.
Walk down the hill to The Burritt Room at the Mystic Hotel. Located on the second floor of the hotel, this speakeasy style bar is known for it’s craft cocktails and jazz-era atmosphere. On a recent Wednesday evening, the bar was packed and a lively three-piece band only added to the spirited and festive mood. Sip one of their inventive cocktails like the Chameleon. The drinker pours a mixture of Mezcal, Lillet Blanc, Dry Vermouth and Maraschino Liqueur over port ice cubes. As the ice melts, the flavor profile of the cocktail changes.
Next up: Dirty Habit, a sexy new concept from the team that was formerly behind the Fifth Floor at the Palomar Hotel. If you had been to the old restaurant, you won’t recognize the new space. They’ve created an intimate and secluded outdoor patio that is the place to be seen on a warm San Francisco night. Dirty Habit’s enticing menu of delectable bar snacks highlights chef David Bazigran’s ability to take something simple, like a soft pretzel, and elevate it to a haute cuisine level. Don’t skip the calamari with chorizo or the crescenza agnolotti with chanterlles and bacon.
From there, you must move on to MKT. The bar at the Four Seasons that was given an under makeover. Gone are the white table clothes — the remodeled interior now features a warm communal space that strongly emphasizes local cuisine. MKT is open almost all the time, with plenty of special events like fashion brunches on Sunday mornings and late-night eats on Fridays. If you’re hungry, order the melt-in-your mouth ricotta gnudi or the finger-licking good steamed mussels with housemade kimchee and pork belly.
Up the street, at the tech-focused Hotel Zetta is the S&R Lounge. With it’s massive Plinko wall and giant Jenga game, this is the most playful of hotel bars. There’s also pool tables, cards, and board games. There’s youthful vibe as hoodie-clad coding superstars mix and mingle with traveling suited business men. There are communal tables and sofas upstairs, so it’s perfect for both a large group event or small cozy gathering.