A year in a hotel

A year in a hotel

San Francisco
19 Apr 2005

Here’s my second answer to the list of questions in Stephanie Fox’s Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge:

2. If you had to live in a hotel for the rest of your life, which hotel would you choose and why?

Tough question. I’ve stayed in some fabulous hotels. The Waldorf-Astoria, the Peabody in Memphis, a tiny wee place on Scotland’s north coast, Sails in the Desert at Ayers Rock, the Schloss hotel in Landsruhe, Hotel-Hospital next to Notre Dame…

They’d all pretty much break my bank. Besides, I’d have to upgrade to a suite at the Waldorf. The room I shared with my daughter didn’t even have a coffee machine. You had to call room service if you wanted anything.

My choice is one that I both genuinely like, and could actually afford to live in for a year.

The youth hostel at Fort Mason in San Francisco. I arrived there on my first round-the-world trip in 2005 and have come back many times over the years. I’m getting a bit old and cranky for a bunkroom, but they have couple and family rooms.

Not luxury, but that’s only pleasure. True happiness comes from the heart, and my heart is joyous in Fort Mason. The building is an old US Army hospital, dating from the 1920s, one of many architectural gems on the old base. The tiny wooden married quarters further down the street are pure and perfect in their being. It is a delight just to wander around.

The cafe serves light meals at breakfast as part of the tariff, and you can pay for real coffee and more substantial tucker. A great place to meet other guests, often high school groups from foreign, chattering and cheerful together.

The view from the cafe and the back stairs is amazing. High on the headland, a few old defence guns stand abandoned in their emplacements, and beyond is the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Tiburon across the Bay, and all the busy traffic of the port. Just amazing. The main shot above, of the Golden Gate at sunset, is taken from the path a few steps away.

The roofs of the historic piers below reflect the setting sun. Inside are cafes, entertainments, the wonderful Book Bay bookshop. Beyond is the Marina Safeway, the famous supermarket mentioned in Tales of the City. And beyond that, the Palace of Fine Arts.

In the other direction, Fishermans Wharf with its touristy feel, the cable car up and down some staggering hills into the city itself.

And all around, San Francisco in its laid-back glory, full of amazing restaurants, quirky bookshops, historic architecture, and beautiful people, many with flowers in their hair.

For more on the Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge see:
Emma Badger’s cheerful, wide-ranging, and richly illustrated blog at Where’s That To?
Jennifer Mims charming and dog-friendly My Own True North.
Join the Facebook group for the rules and to participate.