THE FAIRMONT: San Franciscos Hotel, Hotel

by Annette Bignami

To visit the world-renowned Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco with someone special without staying overnight seems as shameful as passing up on San Francisco's sourdough French bread. Locals agree, "meet me in the lobby of the Fairmont" has suited San Francisco society since the hotel opened after the 1906 earthquake, and locals always know their city's hotels best.

Couples met at tea dances, accepted proposals as Tony Bennett sang "I left my heart in San Francisco" or Ella Fitzgerald played the Venetian Room.

Many wedding receptions and special 50 year anniversary's have been celebrated in the Gold Room. Special birthdays have been enjoyed in the Tonga or Circe Room over the years. Tradition been repeated with many families always returning to that "special place."

I first saw the Fairmont when I was a youngster many years ago. We lived in Monterey, California, we would go to the "city" -- a half-day ride then --, for a special treat about twice a year. I can still remember being in awe of the beautiful marble columns and red carpet. Every time I visit San Francisco I'm still in awe of the Fairmont, it's still a "must see" after all these years. The Fairmont certainly qualifies as one-of-a-kind. It's so special Aaron Spelling, producer of "Hotel" moved the "St Gregory" from Arthur Hailey's book setting in New Orleans to San Francisco so he could justify more visits.

There are so many pluses. The Fairmont blends historic elegance and superb service, traditional architecture, and a superb panoramic view of the city are one of the many features that attract people to the Fairmont. With a cable car stop right at it's door the 591-room hotel offers three restaurants and four lounges that range from casual to elegant. The memory of a Fairmont stay won't fad. You'll get your money's worth, which is the bottom line for any posh recreation. It's the quality, the memory and the unique experience, not the cost, which measures the value found at San Francisco's Fairmont.