The skill of carving out a little space of solitude in the big, bold space of San Francisco is hard to hone. The Joie de Vivre hotel group, the largest in the boutique hotel niche only behind Kimpton, has diligently crafted the art of unwinding in Frisco. Once just the owner of the now hipster hailed Phoenix Hotel in the city's Tenderloin district, the Joie de Vivre group now freckles San Francisco with a dozen properties, including Hotel Vitale. Here are my favorite aspects of this hotel of vitality, perched right on the bay's edge.
Do a 180: For one of the most unique rooms in the city, opt for Hotel Vitale's Panoramic Circular Suite. Literally a circle, the suite swirls neatly into one room after another, prominently showcasing a 180-degree view of the Embarcadero Waterfront and historic Ferry Building Marketplace. In line with the property's nature-minimalist decor, the beiges and light blues of the suite have an immediately soothing effect. The handsome soaking tub for two, shrouded just by a translucent veil right in the main living/bedroom, makes it difficult not to feel the room's beckoning request to relax, Bay Bridge view included. I also loved the massive limestone bathrooms, furnished with Japanese inspired wooden stools and dual rainforest showerheads.
Do a dip: Because the urban landscape naturally sprouts all around, Hotel Vitale frames the city environment firmly in view. Every window seems to offer a peek of plants and bustling pavement. The best view is from the hotel’s Spa Vitale, whichhouses a number of outdoor soaking tubs on the Penthouselevel. Shaded by whispering bamboo stocks, the unlikely combination of soapsuds and skyscrapers from a tub makes this spa a particular city must-do. I like that each of the Spa’s therapists are listed on the Spa’s website, adding more to Hotel Vitale’s “boutique” draw, despite its 200 room count.
Location matters: I was struck by a feeling I get every so rarely while staying in Hotel Vitale. It's the feeling of longing to stay inside your beautiful quarters, while at the same time feeling the pull of exploration because of the dazzling view before you. Once I saw the bustle of the farmer's market just across the street from my windows' panes, I was jostled to head outside. Hotel Vitale makes some of San Francisco's most beloved attractions its doorstep. I was swept into one of my favorites-the Ferry Landing, bursting with specialty food items served by local artisans. From homemade marshmallows and burnt caramel to whole milk goat cheese and deer meat, the Ferry fancies all food lovers, including me. Adjacent to the waters' edge is San Francisco's architectural heart, the Financial District. Within this area, I strolled with a group during a 2-hour architectural tour, guided by Rick Evans, a Travel + Leisure "World's Greatest Tour Guides."
Go South: I like a hotel group eager to explore opportunities beyond its geographical zone. Joie de Vivre is on the move, quickly unveiling new, perky accommodations across the Southwest. I was delighted to see the arrival of the Saguaro, a vibrant darling property in Scottsdale, and soon its sister property, also the Saguro, in Palm Springs.