Hotel Zelos’s Sietse Nabben Shares His Haute Secrets


Sietse Nabben is one hotel hottie. The general manager at the Hotel Zelos has 20 years of hospitality experience and he’s worked in many of the Bay Area’s most notable resorts. Today he’s a part of the Viceroy Hotel Group’s SF contingent and the stylish Dutchman oversees the Zelos’s wildly popular rooftop bar, Dirty Habit. Since the bar is one of our favorite watering holes, we decided to pick Nabben’s brain on what he considers the best of the best in the Bay. Here, in his own words, are Nabben’s haute secrets.

Where were you born: Sevenum, a small town in The Netherlands.

How long have you lived in the SF area and where?  I moved to the Bay Area in 2010 after 10 years in Chicago, and settled in Sausalito right next to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: General Manager at Hotel Zelos in SoMa.

Favorite Restaurant: It’s so hard to pick one restaurant in a city with such an amazing culinary scene, so I’d like to call out three: Liholiho Yacht Club, Mourad, and of course, I’m quite partial to Dirty Habit at Hotel Zelos.

Best Sushi: Ryoko on Taylor Street. With its live DJs and late-night vibrant energy (they’re open until 2am!), it is such a different and fun vibe for sushi in the city. Plus, if you are an adventurous eater, they have a huge selection of inventive rolls.

Best Italian: Hands down, SPQR! I always have an amazing experience there. It is consistent and the decadent pastas are to die for.

Best dessert: The French puff pastries from Choux Bakery are simply the best.

25 Lusk
25 Lusk

Best place for a romantic date: 25 Lusk. I love how the restaurant is tucked away in an alley. The dim lighting, trendy atmosphere, and amazing service makes for the perfect romantic setting.

Best Sunday brunch: One of my favorite weekend activities is a beautiful hike in the Marin Headlands, followed by brunch at Cavallo Point’s Murray Circle Restaurant and Farley Bar overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

Best place for a power business meeting: The Cavalier in Hotel Zetta. It’s a comfortable restaurant with excellent service, and its central location in SoMa is great for business meetings.

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? For visitors who want to stay in San Francisco I, of course, recommend Hotel Zelos. The location is ideal with easy access to the city’s cultural destinations such as Union Square, SFMOMA, and Yerba Buena. Visiting friends and family always appreciate our spacious guestrooms and personalized service as they are usually traveling from quite far away. If we have visitors who want to stay in Marin County, I would recommend Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa in Sausalito. It’s conveniently located right on Bridgeway, and has beautiful views of the bay.

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Boone and Gable. I recently discovered the on-demand personal shopping service, and had an amazing experience. For those who don’t have a ton of free time during regular store hours, the convenience with the level of customization is unbeatable.

Shreve & Co.'s stunning chandelier
Shreve & Co.’s stunning chandelier

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: Shreve & Co. My wife purchased my favorite watch from there for an anniversary gift.

Best spa: Nob Hill Spa at the Scarlet Huntington Hotel. I love how although you are in the middle of the city, when you visit it feels like you have escaped to a little oasis. 

Favorite charity event: San Francisco Education Fund’s annual Back to School Gala. Building brighter futures for students and contributing to our public schools is an important cause to me and the whole Hotel Zelos team.   

Favorite cultural event: Off the Grid at Fort Mason.

Favorite cultural institution: Alcatraz. I know it’s one of the main tourist attractions in the city, but every time friends and family visit, I take them there. I especially like the night tour – it’s slightly spooky, but great fun!

Best steakhouse: I love the old school institutions such as House of Prime Rib.

Best pizza: Little Star Pizza on Divisadero. You simply can’t go wrong with the deep dish “Little Star” pizza.

Wayfare Tavern
Wayfare Tavern

Best lunch: Wayfare Tavern. It’s consistent, and the service is impeccably efficient, which I always appreciate during lunchtime.

Best gym/athletic facility: Equinox on Pine Street.

Best massage: I was recently introduced to a quaint Thai massage place on Polk street called La Biang Thai. Their traditional Thai massage works wonders on my back.

Best limousine/driving service: Toca Limousine

Best museum/exhibit: The collection of 1960s pop and minimalist artists at SFMOMA.

Describe your city in three words: Vibrant. Lively. Progressive.

Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: Taking the ferry to explore Alcatraz is my number one. For those who have never been, I also recommend a trip to the Point Bonita Light House in the Marin Headlands. The views are amazing!

All-around favorite spot in San Francisco: Nothing beats an energizing run along Marina Drive next to the harbor on a beautiful day.

Best aspect of San Francisco: Diversified cultural living.