San Francisco's 1920s speakeasy/film noir past is a timeless era of beauty. What's more romantic than the famous shots of Bogie and Bacall in The Maltese Falcon, clutching each other in the foggy San Francisco night? People yearn for these times so much that Don Herron's Dashiell Hammett Tour, which leads groups through the narrow back alleys and gin joints that Hammett made famous in his legendary mysteries, is one of San Francisco's most popular tours.
While romanticizing the era is all well and good, the reality is no modern-day person would want to sleep in a creaky 1920s bed and be heated by a faulty 1920s water heater. Enter world-famous restauranteur Charlie Palmer, who bought the old Crescent Hotel in November of 2011 and created the charming Mystic Hotel and Burritt Room + Tavern.
Located a block from Union Square, this 82-room boutique hotel retains the romance of San Francisco's speakeasy past while adding the modern day comforts that we just can't do without.
The exposed brick in the hotel's standard rooms is part of the original 1906 building — Photo courtesy of Mystic Hotel
The designers retained the exposed brick of the original structure and much of the original wood. Rooms have armoires instead of closets, and the beds are plush and comfy.
The large suites are the crown jewels of the hotel: 300-400 square feet each with an open floor plan and an expanded lounge space that includes a studio sleeper sofa, desk and armoire.
What really sets the boutique-style hotel apart from others is the Charlie Palmer restaurant and bar on the premises, the Burritt Room + Tavern. The name comes from Burritt Alley, right around the corner. It's a highlight of the Dashiell Hammett tour because it's where Sam Spade's partner, Miles Archer, was shot in The Maltese Falcon. The atmosphere of the bar has retained the film-noir style so well that you'll swear you can hear that shot still ringing.
Burrit Tavern Bar Manager Josh Trabulsi, left, and bartender master the craft cocktail — Photo courtesy of Burritt Room + Tavern
The pride and joy that the bartenders take in their craft is more bubbly than champagne.
"This bar room has been the same for almost 120 years," bar manager Josh Trabulsi explained. "Very few craft cocktail bars in the Bay Area are so intimately connected with a hotel. When you decide to have drinks at Burritt Room, you can just head to your room upstairs afterward."
One of the favorite craft cocktails originated in 1922: "The Old Pal" features rye whiskey, dry vermouth and campari.
After cocktails - although all the restaurants of Chinatown and North Beach are just a quick taxi or generous stroll away - be sure to check out the Burritt Room for dinner. The three-course prix fixe ($36.95 per person) features Chicken Liver Tartine, Quince Braised Short Rib and Valrhona Chocolate Sorbet for dessert.
If you want to experience the classic speakeasy days of San Francisco without losing modern-day comforts, then book a room at Mystic Hotel today.
Mystic Hotel's front entrance — Photo courtesy of Mystic Hotel