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Handlery Union Square Hotel Review

Location and value are key to the allure of San Francisco’s Handlery Union Square Hotel. Across from the world-famous St. Francis Hotel and a half block from the popular Powell Street cable cars, the hotel is a stroller’s delight right in the heart of the city. The Lutece and Russeck galleries are just down the street, exciting theaters are paces from the hotel's door and fun and trendy wine bars a mere grape’s throw away.


Every time Victoria and I pull into Geary and Powell streets, our pulse quickens at the sight of the showy date palms of Union Square blowing gently in the breeze. San Francisco! What a city! World-class restaurants, interesting art galleries, great shopping, the Golden Gate Bridge and charming Sausalito are only a short drive away. We can’t get enough of this city-by-the-bay, a sentiment shared by nearly everyone who has ever been there.

The Hotel

Even with so many things to see and do within walking distance of the Handlery, we usually need a rental car to enjoy San Francisco’s bounteous delights. Parking can be difficult, so we were delighted to discover that the Handlery offers unlimited in and out valet parking.

Used with permission.The Handlery family has managed this hotel for over 50 years. It is one of only three family owned and operated hotels in San Francisco. Its 377 rooms and suites are priced quite reasonably in comparison with the sky-high prices of neighboring hotels. Victoria and I believe it is one of the best deals in San Francisco, especially in light of its convenient location. Nothing is really fancy about the hotel – it is just good value for the money.

Front of the House

The lobby is cozy, yet spacious. It feels more like an old motor inn, comfortable and informal, with a tasteful old-fashioned tranquility. The hotel evokes nostalgia for the 1940s, but the amenities are thoroughly modern.

Used with permission.Guest Rooms

Handlery Club Rooms are quite spacious with special amenities such as terrycloth robes (call down and ask for a second one), two telephones, oversized bath towels and nightly turn down service. An interesting feature of this eight-story edifice is the balconies. Only a handful of hotels in this panoramic city offer the opportunity to sit on a private balcony and watch the world go by.

Used with permission.We were sorry we didn’t have more time to experience one of San Francisco’s few outdoor heated pools. It looked beautiful, but when shopping calls there is no time for the luxury of a swim.

Guest Services

A haircut in the old-fashioned barbershop was almost secondary to the entertainment provided by the bantering tirade of the couple wielding the scissors. We decided that they must be married or at least have worked together for a long period of time, maybe too long.

We did not have the opportunity during our short stay to try New Joe’s, the hotel’s traditional San Francisco-style eatery open for breakfast right through to late night snacks. The original New Joe’s restaurant invented Joe’s Special in 1928, when it ran out of everything except spinach, onion, mushrooms, ground beef and egg. Joe’s Special is still a classic.

Room rates at the Handlery Union Square Hotel:

Standard Rooms range from US$169 to $179
Club rooms are US$205
Suites rates upon request to the hotel directly.
Plus 14% tax.

Sleep well!

Classification Ratings
City Hotel
Swimming pool - Yes
Business Center - No
Front of the House ****
Guestrooms ***1/2
Price $$$
Quality & Comfort of bed ****
View ***1/2
Location *****
Overall Experience ****
Handlery Union Square Hotel
351 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA

Ph: (415) 781-7800 or 1-800-843-4343
Fax: (415) 781-0269
Visit our website

Ratings guidelines:


***** over US$50 per person
**** $30 to $50 per person
*** $18 to $30 per person
** $8 to $18
* less than $8 per person

Food, wine list and dining experience

***** exceptional
**** very good but either lacking in consistency or having room to reach perfection
*** decent fare but lacking in creative inspiration either in presentation, food quality or both
** mediocre and hopefully cheap
* either the price is right or we are not returning