The Hotel Majestic had informed me that their elevator* had broken a few days before. They said they would do everything to ensure that staff moved our suitcases up and down. They gave us the option to cancel with no charge, but it was such a late date, it would’ve been impossible to find such a good deal as we had.
They had us on the fourth floor; they were due to a convention when we arrived. Everyone was clearing out the following morning, and they promised that they would move us to a lower floor the following day. We consider this a minor setback, as I was hoping to get to the lower floor anyway. It was a hike up to the fourth floor, even without the suitcases.
After a short walk in the neighbourhood, we returned, and we were informed that they had a similar room on the third floor, but they were going to check with the manager about moving us to an upgrade, a suite, on the second floor. There are no rooms on the first floor.
The staff were unbelievable from start to finish of our stay.
Let me begin by saying that this hotel may not be to everyone’s taste. Hotel Majestic is an elegant turn-of-the-century boutique hotel located in the Victorian neighbourhood of Pacific Heights, San Francisco. The well-preserved historic building has architecture from the early 20th century and French and English antique ornaments with all the comforts of the modern age. It has old-world charm that some might find stuffy and heavy-handed. The last major renovation was in 2007.
Built in 1902 by California State Legislature member and railway magnate Milton Schmidt as a private residence, With good fortune, it managed to avoid damage from the 1906 Great Earthquake, the fires stopping only two blocks away, at Van Ness Avenue, from the hotel. Thereby becoming became the oldest longest-operating hotel in the city.
The ghost said to walk the hallways of the fourth floor is that of a young woman. Long term residents of this neighborhood believe it to be the daughter of the first owner Schmidt, who refused to leave the building after it was sold. The portrait of the young woman said to haunt the halls hangs downstairs in the lobby.
For nearly a decade, the Majestic was the permanent residence of actress Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland.
In days gone by, the Hotel Majestic hosted movie stars and the city’s elite in its rooms and restaurant, and today it maintains a sense of grandeur and a bygone era.
The Majestic’s Butterfly Bar has been a favorite oasis for years. Just off the high Victorian lobby, tucked behind tall frosted beveled glass doors, the compact mahogany and black granite bar has just seven barstools, with three small tables nearby. Its intimacy is its charm. Named for the framed collection of 200 mounted butterflies of every species that adorns the walls — a donation from local lepidopterist Thomas William David — it opened as a thirst parlor in the 1930s after the repeal of Prohibition.
In the ’70s, the Chronicle’s iconic three-dot columnist, Herb Caen, and Hilton GM Henri Lewin and their pals and cronies were fixtures at the Majestic’s bar.
In 1985, the building exterior was meticulously restored to its former grandeur, with the assistance of original photographs to guide the restoration. A fifth floor has been added to increase it to a 56-room hotel.
Today The Hotel Majestic carries the •certificate of Recognition for Architectural Preservation and Restoration• from the California Heritage Council. Several of the suites are named after dignitaries.
Let me summarize our travels of today.
We picked up a bus that took us to Ferry Market Terminal, which is very, very trendy. Later we took a trolley around the waterfront to the Fisherman’s unbelievably touristy Wharf. Here we had some clam chowder for lunch if you’re waiting for a relatively short line to pick up the cable car run up and over downtown San Francisco to Union Square and Market Street.
We stopped for coffee before heading into Macy’s to look for some items. But then we were relatively exhausted even though it was only after 5 PM, and we headed off on a bus back to our hotel.
We were given new keys to our second-floor suite, which is impressive. We are in the late San Francisco Columnist, Herb Caen, Suite. Our suitcases are all there waiting for us. I am so glad we decided not to look for a different hotel.
We spent the evening eating a salad we had, settling in for the week and relaxing in front of the Golden Girls on TV.
- It turns out that the elevator is about 120 years old, and the parts are no longer available. They finally found the piece they needed in Russia, of all places. It had arrived, but it isn’t easy to install it properly. Goodness knows how long it will be out of service.