AQUATIC QUIRK: If you've spent any time calling upon the businesses near a sea port, you know that a certain nautical theme can rather dominate decor. Fishing nets and painted buoys and anchors are common touches, as are knotted ropes and various paddles and paintings of whales in mid-breach. And while nobody would ever knock such decor -- it charms, it traffics in nostalgia, and it can capture the flavor of the port -- coming along the use of nautical design in a contemporary way can be as fresh and bracing as a sudden sea spray, or a zephyr, if you prefer. Hotel Zephyr, one of the newest additions to the San Francisco hospitality scene, made its debut in the summer of 2015, with an iconic location and some waves-worthy touches that take the ocean's depths to new heights.
FISHERMAN'S WHARF... is its neighbor -- the hotel is on Beach Street, just steps from always bustling Powell -- and fishermen and sharks and gulls inform its city-meets-ocean look, from a porthole-shaped lobby look-through to shipping-container-esque walls to pillows that boast art-sweet images of sharks and seabirds. Are there rooms with stylish bunks that recall sleeping below deck? There are. Are there stripes hither and yon, on chairs and such, recalling the classic striped shirt of a sailor? You betcha.
DAVIDSON HOTELS & RESORTS... is behind the porthole-posh property, which sits in a highly renovated former Radisson. As for what's in walking distance? "Everything" is an almost accurate answer, but let's just say "a lot of everything seen in the San Francisco guidebooks." Pier 39, with its resident barkers (the flippered sea lion kind), is a short stroll, as are the Boudin Bakery, the history-laden cocktail spot The Gold Dust Lounge, and The Buena Vista Cafe, which is all about those Irish coffees. Above all, will you take a moment to be laughed at, awesomely, by Musée Méchanique's Laffing Sal? She, too, is a local icon. What's not to like about staying in the hubbub next to the tourist-busy, everyone-busy wharf and its whimsical pleasures? If the sea lions like it, and Laffing Sal, too, they must clued into something big.