Hotel Vitale

Test by Heather Wagner

You know you’re in San Francisco when a hotel has a yoga lounge in the penthouse. Unlike hip hotels the world over, DJ concierges, disco-ball-bedecked hot tubs and exclusionary hotel bars have no place here. Priding itself on being an “urban oasis” in design, philosophy and decor (a soothing, citrus, neutral and wood palette), the Hotel Vitale is perhaps better described as an urban detox center.

This is not to say the property is boring – anything but. San Fran-cisco’s McCartan Design has produced a bracingly urbane decor with organic touches that artfully echoes the elements of light, water and steel that surround the Embarcadero property. Subtle touches like recessed lighting-effects cast shadows of tree patterns onto walls and carpets, a far cry from tired faux-bamboo walls and other self-conscious attempts to evoke “serenity.” The rooms are luxurious in a refreshing, minimal way and the staff is solicitous but never intrusive.

The waterfront suites are the hotel’s trump card: each offers a 180-degree view of San Francisco and provides guests with deep, two-person limestone “soaking tubs” and attendant state-of-the-art soaking products (care of Fresh). The walk-in rain shower is as relaxing and decadent as any pricey spa. WiFi, razor-thin flat screens and healthy, unique minibar items make the rooms self-sufficient.

Then there’s the rooftop Spa Vitale. A yoga studio offers complimentary stretching and yoga classes, and (non-complimentary) massage treatment rooms. For basking in the rare fogless SF night, there are outdoor soaking tubs with a bay view and a spa connoisseur’s laundry list of soaks, facials and Japanese bathing rituals.
Hotel restaurants have become the next big thing in destination dining, and Americano does not disappoint. Modern Italian fare (with the requisite “California twist”) makes good use of its Ferry Building-proximate location. The menu features fresh, local ingredients from Bay Area artisans. The space is spare yet elegant, with bold reds and golds playing off a natural wood floor.

The outdoor patio facing the Embarcadero has become a hot spot for SF professionals, and on sunny days it’s virtually packed with smartly dressed financial district denizens swirling Sauvignon Blanc and “networking.” Usually, this type of display is depressing, but the Vitale’s embracing, enlightened cool even bestows sales guys in wireless ear-pieces with a hint of grace.