Before the pandemic, San Francisco consistently ranked among the country’s top places to visit. Though the California city understandably took a major hit in the last couple of years, good news is afoot. Area tourism, at long last, is on its way to recovery. According to this article by the San Francisco Travel Association, visitor spending is projected to hit $6.1 billion by the end of this year. (For perspective: the numbers for 2021 were $3.1 billion.) The city also witnessed a surprisingly busy July 4th holiday, sparking even more optimism about the local economy’s future.
While reputable places to stay abound in San Francisco, one newcomer stands out with its surprising address, quirky vibe, and buzzy restaurant. Opened in May 2021, The Kimpton Alton Hotel is situated in Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the city’s busiest destinations. But if you’re worried that staying here won’t offer anything unique or special, think again. “Our location grants easy access to some of San Francisco’s best attractions and beaches, but our hotel guest experience is far from touristy,” comments General Manager General Manager. “We were named after Alton Kelley, the legendary rock poster artist of the 1960s, so music and art are embedded within our interior design, amenities, and programming.”
Under the creative direction of acclaimed interior designer Kara Mann, even the main lobby impresses with a handsome oak reception desk, colorful textile piece by Trish Andersen reminiscent of 1970s shag carpeting, and diminutive framed original Alton Kelley concert handbill. The adjacent living room and common areas, too, brim with stylish seating, lush greenery, original art – including a textural collage by Kate Drewniak and Ilka Kramer’s moody photography – curated by Artemis Advising, and diverse vinyl collection.
Fittingly, the 248 guest rooms and suites sport a similarly retro aesthetic. All of the furnishings, like the midnight velvet headboards and curved wood nightstands, were custom made just for the hotel. And in true Kimpton fashion, you’ll also discover the brand’s Rocky Robes, plush gel-infused beds, and yoga mats in the accommodations. But perhaps the most interesting accents of all are the Victrola record players, which encourage you to customize your own soundtrack during your stay.
Good looks aside, Kimpton Alton Hotel embraces meaningful collaborations with the local community. For example: Abacá, the highly lauded restaurant helmed by rising star chef Francis Ang, turns out contemporary Filipino cooking – standouts include the Smoked Chicken Palabok, Lola’s Pork Lumpia, and Filipino Breakfast of garlic rice, pork belly, and sunny-side up eggs – in a wonderfully bright and airy setting.
Though there’s no spa on-site, you can book treatments from massages to haircuts via Soothe, an app providing on-demand wellness services in the privacy of your hotel room. Other notable partnerships include Habibi, a wine bar pop-up in Russian Hill – the owners curate the bottles available for purchase at the hotel’s locally-driven bodega – and Oakland’s Blk Girls Green House. “We instantly fell in the vibe and ethos of this woman-owned plant and specialty home goods shop,” says Nichols. “We’ve been working with them since we opened on creative community events, which we try to produce every quarter.” And on August 25, Kimpton’s popular Off the Record concert series will kick off the season at Alton with a performance by VINCINT, with profits from ticket sales benefiting National Urban League, a historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization.