Every cultured traveller knows that San Francisco is positively brimming with charm. Countless cultural attractions, great shopping, superb restaurants and happening bars – the city has it all. And it has a number of super deluxe hotels to accommodate discerning travellers. But one thing San Fran was lacking, on the hospitality front, was a hip ’n’ funky hotel – somewhere that trend setting travellers and globetrotting hipsters could hang out, be creative and rest their artistic heads.
This all changed in late 2017, when the Golden City finally got the design-led boutique lodgings it so desperately needed, and the Proper opened in a historic flatiron building erected in 1904 by the city’s pioneer of lavish Beaux-Arts architecture, Albert Pissison, located at Market Street between Seventh and Sixth streets. Today, the building sits in the heart of San Francisco’s emerging Mid-Market neighbourhood, where elite tech companies inhabiting abandoned landmarks and Michelin-starred chefs opening upscale eateries are gradually regenerating this funky part of downtown.
Inspired by the historic building’s colourful past, renowned interior designer Kelly Wearstler took a warm approach when kitting out its insides and filled it with a cheerful pastiche of classic and modern styles. Deep colours, rich textures, classic design pieces and vintage furniture positively clash with bold fabrics and mad wallpaper, making walking into the Proper a unique assault on the visual senses and an Instagrammer’s dream. Staff wear check suits with striped shirts and floral ties which project a fun, fresh and fashionable aesthetic which sits well within the hotel’s urban setting, with Union Square’s designer shops, theatres and SFMOMA all just five blocks away.
Upstairs, the Proper’s 131 guest rooms (including 11 suites) are considerately furnished to provide a functional, Scandinavian-esque stay experience, laden with enough cool touches to keep even the most tech savvy happy. TVs come with Google Chromecast and all rooms boast wireless bluetooth-enabled Vifa speakers so guests can stream their own entertainment. Bedside tablets facilitate room service, local recommendations and reservations for meals and complimentary bicycles. Slick bathrooms have walk-in rain showers and Aesop toiletries. Tucked into the awkward spaces at the thinnest edge of the building are a dozen bunk rooms sold at lower rates.
The Proper’s three F&B venues are hung with local artworks by a variety of emerging talent, connecting the venue to the pulse of the neighbourhood.
A flowing social space off the lobby, Villon’s exec chef Jason Franey spent six years at Eleven Madison Park in NYC before heading to the west coast, where his contemporary American menu draws inspiration from San Francisco’s bountiful culinary culture and plentiful seasonal ingredients.
Thankfully hotel residents are given preference at the Proper’s rooftop bar, Charmaine, which routinely has locals queueing down the block.
On street level, La Bande is the perfect place to people watch and observe the bustling city, thanks to its double-height glass sides providing giant vistas down Market Street and McAllister.
Still the coolest hotel in town well over a year after it threw open its playful doors and screamed its arrival, the Proper is so on trend it’s little wonder that it has become a destination unto itself. Be sure to book well before you arrive in town.