Last Updated on April 1, 2023

The Kimpton Alton Hotel brings an upscale yet unpretentious atmosphere to San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf. Upon entering, you’ll hear thoughtfully curated music playlists throughout the welcoming lobby. Affectionately referred to as their living room, it is filled with natural light and sophisticated furnishings rooted in the 1970s San Francisco counterculture movement. This San Francisco boutique hotel goes the extra mile.

Originally built in the 1970s, you would never know that this establishment was formerly a Holiday Inn. Bill Kimpton started the Kimpton chain because he felt that American hotels were too impersonal. An avid traveler, he went on to change this by starting his own line of boutique hotels.

Loving to travel with his dog, Kimpton felt charging guests a pet fee was ridiculous. As such, your canine companions are more than welcome at any Kimpton hotel, free of charge. And not just dogs, all animals. If your animal fits through the front door, it is as accepted as humans. Kimpton always strived to put the guest first, aiming to make his hotels less lonely and impersonal; this San Francisco boutique hotel is no exception.

Fisherman’s Wharf hotel in San Francisco

Alton Kelly, The Hotel’s Muse

Every Kimpton hotel has a muse and the Alton’s is that of its namesake, Alton Kelly. A psychedelic poster artist, one of his pieces of art hangs in the lobby entrance of this Fisherman’s Wharf hotel in San Francisco to the left of the reception desk. Purple and green, it is an original handbill from the 1960s.

A member of the famous “Big Five” San Francisco psychedelic poster artists of the 1960s, he is most famous for his designs of 1960s rock concert posters and album covers. He drew inspiration from Native Americans, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Bauhaus among other areas.

Alton worked with the likes of Stanley Mouse on several Grateful Dead pieces. One of these was the famed “skull and roses” poster for a Grateful Dead show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

The Alton Hotel Lobby. Photo by Kat Anderson.
The Alton Hotel Lobby. Photo by Kat Anderson.

The Kimpton Alton Art Program

Throughout the hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco public spaces, including the reception and lobby areas, artwork from a variety of talented artists is showcased. All of these pieces are for sale supporting artists around the globe.

Kimpton uses local artists whenever possible, but it’s important that the art upholds the personality of the property. The art program is based on the personality of each individual property and efforts to incorporate multiple mediums creating a layered and visually interesting envelope for the properties are made.

In keeping with the theme brought forth by Kelly, artwork from Danny Scott Lane hangs on the living room salon wall. A photographer whose practice draws inspiration from classic cinema as well as vintage fashion and culture, Lane predominantly shoots on 35mm film and The Kimpton Alton San Francisco boutique hotel features his image of two people lying on the hood of a vintage car.

Another featured artist, Yiwei Li, is a Chinese photographic artist focusing on both the natural and architectural landscapes around her, highlighted by a clean and minimalistic approach to her composition. Her works have an ethereal graphic quality. I love the contrast between the dark stem of the plant and the faint, wispy leaves that appear to be blowing in the wind.

One piece that truly caught my attention was that of a woman crouched down in the waves. This photographic print is that of Marc Gabor, a passionate traveler who draws inspiration from photographers, filmmakers, and writers whose lives have been dedicated to exploring the unknown.

Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco

Rooms at The Kimpton Alton

Upon entering my room, I noticed that it had a different vibe than most hotel rooms. The color scheme was elegant, yet understated, and the sitting area was inviting. Overall, the room did feel more like someone’s home than a typical hotel room.

In the entryway was a closet with a bathrobe and several hangers, as well as a shelf where I placed my shoes and purse. I liked that I could leave them there and not clutter up my room or take up valuable space on the office desk.

When my room truly felt like home was at bedtime. The bed was like sleeping on a cloud that had descended from the heavens. I wanted to pack up my bed, bedding, and pillows and bring the whole lot back home with me! The beds are so comfortable that I didn’t want to leave. If having a bad night’s sleep at a hotel is something you fear, let me reassure you that won’t happen here.

Hotel Amenities

Kimpton Alton Hotel San Francisco in room Record Player. Photo by Kat Anderson.
Kimpton Alton Hotel San Francisco in room Record Player. Photo by Kat Anderson.

The standout amenity was the record player in my room. Each room at this San Francisco boutique hotel has a record player and three albums for your listening pleasure. Should you wish to swap out the records, you can bring them to the front desk and ask for different music. I tend to turn on the TV in hotel rooms for music, but this was far better. 

I also appreciate that every room is outfitted with bathrobes. One of my favorite ways to relax in my hotel room is to get cozy by wrapping myself in a luxurious hotel robe. Usually following a glass of wine, but we’ll get to that next. 

Every room also has a yoga mat. Guests are encouraged to use this in their rooms or take it down to the hotel’s gym, but its main purpose is for a yoga class. The Kimpton Alton hosts a complimentary Sunday yoga session for its guests. I think this is a lovely touch as most places would charge an additional fee for a fitness class.

Hotel rooms don’t have a snack bar or mini bar, but there’s a quaint store off the lobby where you can purchase these items. It isn’t manned, but there is a price list and appears to work off the honor system.

Wine Hour at The Kimpton Alton

Aside from its great location of this Fisherman’s Wharf hotel in San Francisco, one of the best parts about my stay was the Wine Hour. Every evening from 5 to 6 pm, staff mingle with guests while serving glasses of red and white wine. This takes place in the living room salon and truly makes this space feel more like a home away from home.

On my first evening here, I enjoyed a glass of red wine while chatting with several other guests as well as a few staff members, including Emily the General Manager. We discussed the hotel’s art collection and how they support local artists.

When I returned for Wine Hour the following evening, Emily immediately recognized me and handed me a glass of red wine, remembering that was my preference. It’s these nuances that make a huge difference when traveling. This is also one of those touches that you’ll only find at boutique hotels.

I learned that the Wine Hour tradition began when Bill Kimpton and his staff would wind down over a glass of wine and guests would constantly crash their party. It was then that he decided to make Wine Hour a nightly tradition and trademark at all Kimpton hotels.

Dining at the Award-Winning Restaurant Abacá

Kimpton Alton Hotel San Francisco Abaca Breakfast. Photo by Kat Anderson.
Kimpton Alton Hotel San Francisco Abaca Breakfast. Photo by Kat Anderson.

Located inside The Kimpton Alton hotel is one of San Francisco’s top restaurants. Last year, Abacá earned a spot in the coveted Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America. It was also named one of The 25 Best Restaurants in San Francisco according to ‘The Infatuation.’

Abacá is a contemporary Filipino-Californian restaurant, showcasing the beauty and vibrance of Filipino culture and cuisine. The décor is warm and welcoming. A variety of plants drape down from above, providing an unexpected pop of color beneath the vaulted, sky-lit ceiling. 

Wanting to maintain a casual yet elegant experience, guests are invited to place their order at the counter and then take a number to their table. When the food is ready, it is served to your table.

At Abacá, they honor old family recipes and flavours while cooking with some of Northern California’s best ingredients. And they do it very well. I enjoyed two meals at Abacá and both were beautifully presented and full of flavor. My morning cappuccino that complimented my omelette was a work of art. It was almost too pretty to drink, but somehow, I managed.

Should you find yourself in the City by the Bay, you’d be remiss not to stay at this hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco. With its ideal location and inviting demeanor, this boutique hotel really does have it all. And they are more than ready to welcome you and your entire family. Fur babies and all.

Book your stay at the Kimpton Alton Hotel!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No Comments Yet.