It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the city of San Francisco for group destinations. An affordable four-star urban retreat in the vibrant SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood, Harbor Court Hotel is located at the edge of the Embarcadero with arresting views of the Bay Bridge and the glistening waters below. Originally the city’s Army-Navy YMCA residence, the 1926 Spanish Revival-style building has been transformed into a 131-room boutique hotel with polished design and thoughtful amenities. For good reason, it’s rated number nine out of 252 in San Francisco on Tripadvisor for customer satisfaction as Harbor Court shines with its personalized hospitality, savvy staff and edgy sophistication. Whether you desire a leisure or romantic stay, a cozy basecamp from which to explore nearby Michelin-starred dining and the pulse of the city, a pet-friendly outpost or a charming setting to house your guests during a destination wedding, Harbor Court Hotel fits the bill/ is the ideal spot/has you covered.
At this waterfront hotel, the past seamlessly greets the modern-day as the YMCA’s original exterior has been preserved, and a recent 2021 renovation of the upper and lower lobby pays homage to the YMCA’s history and turn-of-the-century glamour. Vintage art and artifacts depicting the YMCA’s bygone era grace the beautiful mahogany wood walls — think old-fashioned weights, antique jump ropes, boxing gloves and badminton sets. Guests are welcomed at the shimmering green, art deco front desk under the original arched ceiling of this Italian Renaissance room. Soft warm lighting, sparkling brass fixtures, vintage crystal decanters and an oversized fireplace that anchors the room make this a pleasant and warm greeting on arrival. A sense of whimsy also permeates the lobby scene with humorous images of The Village People’s infamous YMCA poses depicted in LEGO dolls and stick figures, collections of mini trophies, and a pegged Donut Wall displaying freshly made morning sweets — sprinkled, maple or cake batter bites – to accompany your steaming pot of tea or coffee.
For anyone considering a San Francisco destination wedding, Harbor Court Hotel is an ideal home base for your wedding party with its romantic intimate vibe. The penthouse suite awaits for the bride and groom, where you can sip Veuve Clicquot in plush robes while drinking in the Bay Lights. It’s easy to block out the entire 8th floor for a bachelor or bachelorette party, or a cluster of rooms for your guests. Nearby Rincon Park hosts Cupid’s Span, a massive sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, an incredible backdrop for romantic wedding photos with the giant 60-foot Cupids’ bow and arrow set against the Bay Bridge. While the hotel doesn’t have a specific ceremony or reception space, it’s just minutes from myriad incredible venues like Vie Winery, the Commonwealth Club, just to name a few. Ozumo, the hotel’s on-premise restaurant, can cater any fete and the restaurant’s outdoor tent can be rented for a memorable reception, enlivened by the twinkling waves of light across the bridge. At Harbor Court Hotel, romance abounds.
The YMCA still occupies the first three floors of the historic building, so guests have access to its Olympic-sized pool, fitness classes, and wellness center. Hopping on a complimentary cruiser bike is a great way to explore the embarcadero and city sights. The hotel is also located along the city’s most popular running path so you can enjoy uninterrupted jogs along the water. After enjoying the daily complimentary Chardonnay and Merlot Happy Hour, fireside in the lobby, head to the famed eatery Ozumo, also housed in the Harbor Court Hotel. Twenty-two years strong, this tasteful Japanese restaurant has a devoted following who love the creative sushi and sashimi, robata grilled dishes and the most impressive sake list in the country, not to mention the electrifying Bay Bridge views.
Location, Location, Location
Not only are you Bayfront at this urban retreat, but you’re also a stone’s throw from classic San Francisco experiences from this walkable location. The famed Ferry Building offers gourmet culinary adventures, walking tours, and people-watching. And be sure to stroll through the adjacent farmer’s market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. At Pier 15, you’ll find Exploratorium or hit Fisherman’s Wharf for chowder and then hop on a boat to Alcatraz. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate the ease of access to Warrior Games at the Chase Center and ball games at the nearby Oracle Park. Harbor Court Hotel puts you in a prime spot to discover the magic of San Francisco.