Like most hotel-dwellers, I have a bucket list of hotels I want to stay in before I die. Not necessarily properties outside my price range — just ones that I haven’t yet had the chance to visit.
Until this week, one such hotel was the The Huntington in San Francisco, perched on top of Nob Hill and with its iconic signage one of the few things bright (and high) enough to pierce the city’s fog.
A large part of the hotel’s charm is its stubborn resistance to embracing the future. While every hotel is chasing its tail to adopt the latest booking and in-room technologies, the Huntington keeps it refreshingly old school.
From arrival — where a friendly doorman in traditional uniform made conversation about the weather as he welcomed me to the hotel — to the copy of the San Francisco Chronicle waiting outside my door the following morning — the whole stay was like a step back in time. I mean, sure, there’s pretty decent wifi (via AT&T) in the rooms, but why send an email when you can write a real letter on the hotel’s luxurious in-room stationery and drop it in the mail tube that runs through each floor?
Of course not all un-progress is good. Although I was able to book a room online via Tablet, the hotel’s booking system still requires that reservations be entered manually by staff every few hours. As a result, my last minute booking was received too late and on check in I was told the bad news: there were no more available rooms in the class I’d requested.
Fortunately, there quickly followed the good news: a complimentary upgrade a junior suite. A note to almost every other hotel in the world: that’s how service is supposed to work.