The Clift Royal Sonesta | San Francisco

The Clift Royal Sonesta | San Francisco

district: Union Square.

Once again, the 1915 opened venerable Clift Hotel in San Francisco underwent a complete overhaul. The last, in 2001 by French star designer Philippe Starck sparked controversy and admiration at the same time. The new look, by Gensler, is much more neutral and lighter, with a palette of warm neutrals with light driftwood, rich charcoal grays and metallic bronze accents bringing a more modern and less moody vibe.

Not much remains of the nearly two decades old Starck revamp. Only the surreal stool by Roberto Matta (inspired by René Margritte) which was the centerpiece of the lobby has been removed to a side corner, stripped of its original fabric and redone in the same neutral look as the rest of the interiors.

The hotel’s famed Art Deco Red Room, which was added in 1933, and paneled with wood from a single 800-year old redwood tree, had a less rigorous make-over. The sultry Starck look has gone by adding new Art Deco inspired furniture and flooring. The original artwork on the walls by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt were restored and re-hung.

Old furniture from the guest rooms were donated to Compass Family Services, which redistributed the pieces to Bay Area families in need, whose interiors now feature pieces by Starck. The newly styled guestrooms have black headboards and gray furniture. Bathrooms were enlarged, their fixtures updated, and a period-specific black-and-white tile was added to the floors. Art throughout the guestrooms and corridors is inspired by the Pan American Pacific International Exposition of 1915, honoring the fact that The Clift was built specifically to cater to attendants of the Expo. The rooms display images of lifestyle icons of the early 1900s with a contemporary twist.

✅ free Wi-Fi • size matters: 372 rooms (24-39m2) (260-425 sq ft), including 70 suites (44-109m2) (475-1175 sq ft) • hotel opened: 1915 • interior design: Gensler • on-site parking (charged) • pets allowed • 24-hour front desk

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