The Palace Hotel, a historic downtown San Francisco hotel, holds a fabled past steeped in grandeur. For over a century, the Palace Hotel has been the site of important and regal events ranging from formal political gatherings to the exclusive galas of high society and private parties. The Palace Hotel today maintains the hotel's tradition of excellence and sophistication.
San Francisco Historic Hotel Tours
Tour the elegant, historic San Francisco Palace Hotel, an architectural feat accomplished to great acclaim. See this Beaux Arts gem for yourself, and discover why the Palace Hotel is consistently ranked as one of the top luxury hotels in the world! Complimentary tours of the historic building are offered on Saturday and Tuesday at 10am and on Thursday at 2pm. Meet on the right side of the main lobby. Address: 2 New Montgomery Street. Public transportation: MUNI/BART Montgomery Station; all Market Street buses and streetcars. Learn More >
Historic Downtown San Francisco Hotel
On December 15, 1909 the Palace Hotel re-opened its doors, completely rebuilt after the devastation of the April 18, 1906 great quake of San Francisco. Since its 1909 reopening, the Palace Hotel has remained the Grand Dame of historic San Francisco hotels, sharing its many treasures with the loyal citizens of San Francisco and visitors from around the world. Among the magical creations in the historic building of 1909 are The Garden Court, The Palace Gold Service and The Pied Piper of Hamelin mural all enjoyed by a parade of famous guests. Learn More >
Who's Who from the Palace Hotel's History
Resuming its place among elite society, the new Palace Hotel attracted dignitaries, business moguls and celebrities alike. Presidents Harrison, McKinley, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Clinton all spent time in this historic San Francisco hotel. John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Oscar Wilde were guests, and actress Sarah Bernhard caused a stir when she arrived with her pet baby tiger. Leaving its mark on the 20th Century, the historic hotel hosted President Woodrow Wilson in support of the Versailles Treaty and in 1945, catered the banquet honoring the opening session of the United Nations. Learn More >
Historic Palace Hotel Pre-1909
The Palace Hotel, built in 1875, envisioned by William Chapman Ralston and William Sharon, was reputedly the largest, most luxurious and costly hotel in the world. The San Francisco Palace Hotel was designed as the American counterpart to the grand hotels of Europe. On October 2, 1875, the Palace Hotel officially opened to capture the hearts of the American public.
Originally built by architect John P. Gaynor, the majestic San Francisco historic building hailed 7,000 windows, 14-foot high ceilings and an unprecedented opulence. Today's Garden Court was conceived of as the hotel's carriage entrance - a gateway to the splendors and remarkable innovations within. The hydraulic elevators - an engineering marvel for the time - were dubbed "rising rooms." In each of the lavish guest rooms, an electronic call button allowed guests to "ring" for anything they desired and air conditioning was a standard feature.
The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
The Palace Hotel quickly gained prominence among the traveling elite visiting San Francisco. Famed tenor Enrico Caruso was a guest at the hotel on April 18, 1906 when the devastating San Francisco earthquake hit. While the building survived the quake structurally, the hotel was decimated in the ensuing fire that swept most of downtown San Francisco. It took three years of rebuilding under the supervision of New York firm, Trowbridge & Livingston, before the Palace Hotel would re-open in 1909. It was for this second opening that the artist Maxfield Parrish was commissioned to paint the 16-foot mural "The Pied Piper of Hamlin" that is displayed to this day in the Pied Piper Bar.