WHERE TO STAY:
photo courtesy of Hotel Vitale
Though it’s located in the bustling financial district, Hotel Vitale evokes a sense of calm immediately upon check-in. Soothing tones and natural elements—knotted-wood floors, stacked-stone columns, and waterfront views of the bay—create a peaceful and tranquil environment for the weary business traveler. Spa and fitness facilities, as well as a “vitality concierge” who can suggest wellness-inducing services in the city, leave your mind and body feeling rested and refreshed (8 Mission St., 888-890-8688, www.hotelvitale.com).
Union Square’s Clift Hotel is a visual masterpiece. Opened in 1915, it was revamped in 2001 by renowned designer Philippe Starck, who played with color, texture, and scale to create a look unlike any other. Every detail of this hotel is sleek, chic, and sophisticated—from its impeccably decorated apartment suite to the deep mahogany of the Redwood Room lounge, the walls of which are purportedly lined with the wood from a single California Redwood tree. But don’t let your eyes have all the fun: Luxurious features such as 400-thread-count sheets and in-room spa services allow you to indulge all your senses (495 Geary St., 800-697-1791, www.clifthotel.com).
WHERE TO EAT:
The name of San Francisco’s delightful Town Hall restaurant suggests a neighborhood feel, and that’s no accident. The atmosphere and service at this SoMa (South of Market Street) spot is friendly and familiar while still maintaining an upscale air. Comfort food favorites with modern updates make for a menu that’s accessible, appetizing, and available for lunch or dinner (342 Howard St., 415-908-3900, www.townhallsf.com).
Dining alone is often unavoidable when traveling for business. Boulevard restaurant, located in the revived waterfront area, eliminates the boredom of a typical table for one with a bar that overlooks the exhibition kitchen. Watch Chef Nancy Oakes and her staff in action while you enjoy the flavorful fruits of their labor (1 Mission St., 415-543-6084, www.boulevardrestaurant.com).
As the name suggests, fans of First Crush have a sweet spot for vino. Sample its exclusively California-grown list by bottle, glass, or flight. The knowledgeable staff will happily suggest a pairing to complement the French-American menu (101 Cyril Magnin St., 415-982-7874, www.firstcrush.com).
Despite its not-so-glamorous name, The Fly Trap is a gorgeous lunch or dinner option with a touch of romance and unpretentious elegance. The traditional menu offers steak, seafood, salads, and other classic dishes. Business types often congregate at the bar for drinks, appetizers, and live music (606 Folsom St., 415-243-0580, www.flytraprestaurant.com).
For a dinner that pulls out all the stops (and your corporate gold card), book a table at Michael Mina, the acclaimed chef’s namesake restaurant located in the Westin St. Francis Hotel. The restaurant is known for its inventive seasonal menu; each course offers three variations of the same base ingredient, with options including foie gras, lobster, pork, and chocolate (335 Powell St., 415-397-9222, www.michaelmina.net).
WHAT TO DO:
When day-long meetings wear you down, pop into Spa Fusion, conveniently located in the downtown Hilton San Francisco Hotel. The upscale health spa offers a range of express services to get you reinvigorated in a hurry. Try the Traveler’s Tonic Massage—the perfect solution for jet lag and sore muscles (333 O’Farrell St., 415-923-5014, www.spafusion.com).
Cap off an evening at Bourbon and Branch, a unique, reservations-only bar that will impress even the most discerning crowd. Paying homage to the speakeasies of the Prohibition era, this discreet watering hole has no signage out front, an unlisted phone number, and guests must provide a password—administered upon making a reservation—before entering. Once you (finally) make it inside, the expert staff serves up rare liquors in a beautiful, back-room setting (501 Jones St., www.bourbonandbranch.com).
If wine is your drink, you can’t leave the Bay Area without making a day trip to Napa Valley. Just over an hour’s drive from the city, this renowned wine country boasts hundreds of vineyards. If you aren’t sure where to start, we recommend trying Joseph Phelps Vineyards, an appointment-only winery that offers intimate, in-depth tastings (200 Taplin Rd., St. Helena, 707-963-2745, www.jpvwines.com). Schramsberg Vineyards’ sparkling wines also merit a visit. Tours of this historic, hillside vineyard venture deep into the winery’s century-old, hand-dug caves. Reservations here are a must (1400 Schramsberg Rd., Calistoga, 800-877-3623, www.schramsberg.com). And as the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa, household staple Beringer offers one of the best tours in the valley (2000 Main St., St. Helena, 707-967-4412, www.beringer.com).
THE MOSCONE CENTER:
747 Howard St.