San Francisco certainly lives up to its reputation as being one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. This is a city you simply must make the effort to visit; it is rich with culture and boasts an eclectic mix of people who create a welcoming atmosphere. The eleven hour flight is made considerably more pleasurable when flying Business Class as part of the British Airways Club World Cabin. I made the most of the perks at London Heathrow and scheduled time for a complimentary facial in the lounge prior to boarding, where passengers can also enjoy champagne, lunch and some relaxation time.
On landing at your destination, a hire car is pretty much crucial for getting around the city and when you cruise through the streets, the reason for this is immediately apparent. Just like the famous film sets, the roads are set at an incredibly steep incline which challenges even the fittest walker. However, with the assistance of a satellite navigation device, it is incredibly easy to drive around the city.
Prized at the top of Nob Hill is the glorious Fairmont Hotel, which provides an ideal base for the luxury traveller embarking on a weekend or city break. The grand building is centrally located in upmarket surroundings. As soon as you enter the hotel, you will not want to leave. The sweeping lobby features a live pianist who plays soothing and elegant pieces of music. The décor is opulent but not ostentatious and the Laurel Court bar attracts a chic crowd by providing a sophisticated setting for an early evening glass of Californian Champagne. The guest rooms are equally stylish and despite the obvious popularity of the hotel, the corridors fall silent when darkness arrives.
You can embrace the city’s traditional and famed travel method by hopping on a cable car to take the short ride to Union Square. This is the world’s first cable car system and was invented by London-born Andrew Smith-Hallidie between 1836 and 1900, with three lines accessing most of the city.
A plethora of luxury boutiques await in the energetic area of Union Square, including European high end designers such as Louis Vuitton and Prada. A large Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue will also cater for your department store needs.
Dining at Scala’s Bistro is recommended and if you forget to make a reservation, make sure you arrive early in order to put your name on the waitlist for a table. The Italian menu presents a number of delicious options and the food in general is arguably healthier, with less extravagant portions than often presented on the East Coast of America. Another area to explore for dining options is Polk Gulch, which is a popular choice by residents of San Francisco and contains a number of restaurants including the delicious Thai Spice.
A visit to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 is essential. Whilst this area maybe considered a bit of a tourist trap and contains entertainment that echoes a theme park in parts, you must catch a glimpse of the famous sea lions. Basking in the sunshine you will find well over thirty of the impressive animals lying on jetties and playing in the water at the end of the pier. Neptune’s Waterfront Grill and Bar has gallery tables available for lunch where you can watch them play and push each other into the water whilst sipping some delicious clam chowder.
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