San Francisco is the Californian dream that has it all. Iconic sights, huge entertainment options, and fine dining – it’s no wonder the destination is an international magnet. Traditional travel guides highlight the Golden Gate Bridge and the Alcatraz, but for those looking to do San Francisco the VIP way, do it like Upscale Living. Here are the best luxe experiences you can enjoy in the golden city.
Hang Out at The Proper
The flagship San Francisco Proper Hotel is our pick for socializing; housed in a legendary Beaux-Arts era, flatiron building right in the heart of the Mid-Market district and a stone’s throw from Union Square. Come for drinks up on chic city rooftop Charmaine’s among a fashionable crowd – the terrace also serves dinner, brunch, and seasonal specials. If you’re partial to sugary fun, downstairs at Villon is the most delightful afternoon tea in town (go “royal” to accompany cake with bubbles). There’s nothing like a catch-up over tiered treats, surely the most European you can feel stateside. Wander the lobby area afterward and take in the marvel of this 1909 landmark, with walls decked in artwork to rival a museum. For those who stay too late to drive home, rooms are compact but worth a night’s sleep – there are 131 boutique offerings designed by interior genius Kelly Wearstler.
Sleep Brand New at The Kimpton Alton Hotel
Just opened in May 2021 is Kimpton property, The Alton, on Fisherman’s Wharf, where everything is sparkling brand new. The Premium King Spa with Alcatraz View is 450 square feet of pure comfort, with a sink-in mattress, FRETTE linens, and the brand’s signature grey hooded bathrobes. Best of all is the stand-alone bathtub with Atelier Bloem products to swirl around in (or Monat – our flavor of the month). It’s big enough for two to pamper themselves in. The suite’s design is laidback California cool with an updated retro attitude – think minimalist décor with vintage nods and a funky record player/vinyl available on guest loan. Abacá will be their on-site restaurant, serving contemporary Filipino-Californian, and the valet is ultra-easy (i.e. parking is right at the entrance, so there’s no need to wait long). Fisherman’s Wharf is a safe area and packed with attractions for a breezy stroll, so in terms of tourist needs, the location is unbeatable.
Spend a Day at Napa Valley
You can’t visit San Francisco without a trip to the famed Napa Valley. There are so many vineyards that it’s hard to know where to begin. We highly recommend Trinchero Napa Valley in St. Helena, a family legacy since 1948 and one of the most beautiful estates we’ve ever set foot on. They’re back and open for tasting sessions. Do whatever you can to get a sip of the Central Park West Vineyard 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s phenomenal. Other standouts include the 2015 Cloud’s Nest Vineyard Cab from the Mountain Flight tasting, and an exquisite Signature Cabernet Sauvignon blend comprising approximately eight hand-selected barrels. Wines are available to purchase on-site or via their website. Regulars can join the Legacy Club with unprecedented access to limited-release wines (with delivery to your home) and private events at the estate winery and tasting room.
Drive the 2021 Corvette Stingray like a Californian
You have optimum conditions for zooming around Northern Cali in Chevrolet’s Corvette, thanks to wide open roads and warming sunshine. The Coupe 3LT comes with a 6.2L V8 mid-engine with better weight distribution, control, visibility, and speed – it has the fastest 0-60 time of any Corvette ever, less than three seconds when equipped with the Z51 Performance Package. Inside tech is sleek and modern; we adore the HD rear vision camera that makes parking a pinch, and the user-friendly touch screen navigation system effortlessly flips between Spotify and Google Maps (important for road trips!). This is a serious supercar but driveable day today and comfortable enough to park and enjoy date night at a Drive-Thru movie (visit Lark Theater if you fancy trying for yourself, they have a ‘Movies Under The Stars’ series). Other notable perks include FE2 suspension, Driver Mode Selector Visualization, Wireless Phone Projection, and personalization options including dual racing stripes, stinger strips, and new colors. The Corvette Stringray is available to purchase at a starting price of just $59,900, while local rental costs will vary.
Get the Perfect Holiday Shot
Of course, you’ll be visiting the Golden Gate Bridge – you don’t need an article to tell you to do that. But what you might not have thought of is how you’ll capture the splendor. A selfie just won’t do – hire a talented local San Francisco photographer via Flytographer instead. There are fun, one-hour sessions available with an expert who’ll recommend the best spots to take magazine-worthy snaps, not just social media-worthy ones. Simply tell them what you’re hoping to achieve, arrange a time and place to meet, and the photos are done, edited, and delivered to you within five days. How about a sunset picnic scenario at Fort Mason Park? Some candles should set the mood (Woodwick does outdoor candles that keep bugs at bay, in case you’re there in the height of summer).
Social Distance at The Vault Garden
As the world opens up again, many still want to keep a social distance when dining out. The Vault Garden is a fully outdoors restaurant that allows you to take advantage of Cali weather (and don’t worry if it’s chilly; they supply blankets, heat, and covering). They opened in 2019 but adapted to the pandemic with 100-seats on the spacious plaza of the 555 California building. Executive Chef Ryan Cerizo’s seasonal dishes are both healthy and delicious (fried asparagus, grilled salmon, and other goodies) and of course you must finish with one of the enticing cocktails named after famous gardens of the globe.
Depart with an Airport ButlerAirports are notoriously stressful, so let someone else deal with it all while you focus on shopping, reading, or coffee. Airport Butler is a professional meet and greets airport concierge service whereby a team takes care of every step of the airport experience on your behalf. It has been especially popular with executives, celebrities, families, special needs, and foreign travelers (simply request language beforehand). The departure service includes a butler curbside greeting, baggage assistance, and someone staying by your side, monitoring flight updates until it’s time to personally escort you to the plane. For arrivals, you’re met at the gate, swiftly taken through the airport, and connected with ground transportation. Finally, connections are seamless – taking guests from flight to flight as if a walk in the park.