In a nutshell: The Kimpton Buchanan San Francisco offers comfortable rooms in an excellent Japantown location if you’re visiting that part of the city, but the hotel left me less than impressed with the Kimpton brand. I’ve heard a lot about Kimpton over the years, and our stay didn’t really meet my expectations for what the brand supposedly offers.
I took my older two kids to San Francisco on a quick weekend getaway back in December. We ended up staying at the Embassy Suites Napa the first night, to shorten the drive that Saturday afternoon. We had an easygoing morning before heading into San Francisco for some fun. Our one night in the city was spent at the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel San Francisco, which I managed to score for an incredibly good rate.
Booking Our Stay
I booked the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel San Francisco as a Sunday night deal being offered last fall. It was effectively 50% off the going rate. Typically, I take “50% off sales” with a grain of salt, as I don’t expect them to actually offer quite that value. But in this case, we snagged a night for just $85 before taxes, which is downright excellent for a hotel of this caliber in SF. This was a Sunday special that ran for a few months, and it was truly 50% off the going weekend rate of $170 per night on Saturday and Sunday.
Alternatively, we could have booked the Kimpton Buchanan San Francisco for 55,000 IHG points per night. Generally, I don’t find this to be all that great a deal, as rates are typically between $200-$250. But there are times where the hotel goes for more. I would want to get a minimum of $330 in value from 55,000 IHG points.
Arrival and Initial Impressions
Candidly, I didn’t think the hotel really looks like much from the outside. I knew it was pretty boutique and not in a downtown location, but it’s not really what I imagined (I hadn’t seen any exterior photos).
I had to bite the bullet and do the one thing I hate to do in SF: park anywhere overnight. It was better than parking at a downtown San Francisco hotel, but still a hefty charge at $40 per day plus tax. I wish I would have known that there is a place down the street offering daily parking for just $29. But parking at the hotel avoided needing to scout for a lot. Still, I wouldn’t have minded a 1-2 block walk.
We entered from the parking garage. I do have to say that the hotel name with origami bird art is pretty cool. Kimptons are known for incorporating local qualities into their design and cuisine, and the origami birds were the first noticeable touch of its Japantown location.
The lobby is stylish and tasteful as well. It’s not large, and there are only two check-in desks. But it is very inviting and offers a living room style seating area, as well as a table in the corner.
The agent at the front desk welcomed us warmly to the property. He confirmed the details of our stay, that we were parking a car, and we were soon on our way up to our room.
Kimpton Buchanan San Francisco Double Room
I’d booked a double-double room for our stay, which is a bit less than ideal traveling with two kids. My 9-year-old son and I can happily share a king. A queen will suffice in a pinch, but a double bed is less than ideal. Unfortunately, the front desk was unwilling to move us to another room type. But we would make do.
The room has an interesting high-contrast style. Lots of black and white, with dark blue curtains and a few other splashes of color. I found it odd that the TV is mounted to something that looks like an easel. Overall, our standard room wasn’t very large, but we were comfortable.
The charge port is a nice touch, given that the rooms were likely renovated before our recent era of needing power and WiFi everywhere. I love it when hotels incorporate this into their original design, but for older properties, these are a great solution.
Our room also contained a bureau with a yoga mat in it. My son, for the first time, opted to sleep on the floor using the mat and an extra duvet. Normally, he insists on a bed or sofa-bed. I was glad this was the case, as it meant a restful night of sleep for me. He, at nine, can still sleep anywhere just fine.
The bathroom in our room at the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel San Francisco was nice, but small. Like the bedroom, everything is styled in black and white, with even fewer splashes of color.
The bathroom featured a tub/shower combo. It is on the smaller side, as far as these go. I had to chuckle at the floor tiling, as it is highly similar to the bathroom tile work in our company office.
The bath amenities are wall mounted containers. I prefer these larger pump units over the refillable containers, assuming that they will be outright replaced when they are exhausted. Hotels still have a year or two to comply with California law regarding elimination of non-reusable size toiletries, but many hotels (and chains) have made the move already. I do have to say that all three of these smelled fantastic.
Our room had no real view. It was of an adjacent building, across the tiny hotel grounds. I would have much preferred a room facing the front, with a view of Japantown and the rest of the city. This photo is from the elevator landing on our floor.
Overall, I found our double-double room at the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel San Francisco to be stylish and comfortable. I was more than happy paying $85 plus taxes for these accommodations in the city.
Kimpton’s Signature Wine Hour Reception
One of the signature Kimpton traditions is the wine hour reception between 5:00 and 6:00 PM. We joined briefly right when it started, as did several other guests. It is offered in the lobby of the hotel. The Kimpton Buchanan offered a Cabernet Sauvingnon and Chardonnay, as well as sake, which is a local feature unique to their hotel.
My one complaint is the lack of options for the under-21s. After requesting a glass of Cabernet, I asked if there was anything available for the kids. The response was a very curt “no”. I simply replied, “Okay, thanks.” Her demeanor and terseness really took me aback, not to mention the fact that the lady handed me pretty much a half pour compared to everyone else’s glass. Do they not welcome families?
I’d expected there to be something other than water and wine offered. I’d read that Kimpton hotels are generally both kid-friendly and pet-friendly, and for them not to have anything for kids at their reception was surprising. But the kids and I still had fun chatting and planning what we were going to do that evening.
Later, I realized that the hotel basically didn’t provide any of the kid features they typically offer. Besides the wine reception, I didn’t really know what else the brand offers. But the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel San Francisco essentially missed the mark in this regard.
We didn’t eat at the hotel restaurant during our stay. Our plan was to I thought about having breakfast, but the cost would have been substantial. For dinner, I’d already settled on a local highly-rated restaurant.
But I do have to say that I really liked the style of the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel restaurant. I headed down for a quick peek after the kids were in bed.
Great Japantown Location
I’ve only spent time in Japantown on one other occasion and was glad for the chance to visit again. Just across from the hotel is the Buchanan Street plaza with several restaurants and some shops. The Hinodeya Ramen Bar is where I convinced my non-adventurous kids that we should eat. The ratings are extremely good. The place was busy that Sunday evening, and we had to wait 15 minutes to be seated.
I’ve only had quality ramen a couple times, and this is probably the best I’ve tasted. It’s an excellent place to dine in Japantown. The kids enjoyed the bowl we ordered that wasn’t spicy, along with an appetizer. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in the area.
Kimpton Buchanan Hotel San Francisco: Final Thoughts
Overall, I was happy with our stay. The hotel staff missed the mark for us on the wine reception and the kid amenities. But for the location, room comfort, and rate, our stay was a great value. I’d be unlikely to consider the hotel at its typical rates, but for our one night in SF, the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel San Francisco worked out just fine.