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SF Luxury @ The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel

November 9, 2021

Redwood Room at the Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel san francisco bar with seating

Join Contributor Beth Hoke on a visit to The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel, one of San Francisco’s top luxury hotels

Updated Nov 3, 2022  / Commissions may be earned from our affiliate partner links


For more than a century, the Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel has been welcoming guests to its prestigious location in San Francisco’s Union Square neighborhood. This 4-star hotel was built to accommodate visitors to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 and its décor pays tribute to its storied past. Historic photos and original elements are blended seamlessly with modern decor to create a vibe that makes it a simultaneously contemporary yet nostalgic place to visit in California.

The hotel has changed hands several times over the years, but has always retained the name of the original owner, Frederick C Clift. Currently managed by Royal Sonesta, an award-winning international hotel brand, the property features newly renovated guest rooms and public spaces. 

Lobby with fireplace at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel
First impressions are everything, and The Clift Royal impresses from the get go (All photos courtesy The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel)

Soothing neutral tones paired with dark wood make a statement in each of the sophisticated guest rooms and suites. The décor is complemented by upscale amenities including signature bedding, Keurig coffee makers, comfortable bathrobes and slippers, luxury toiletries, and rainfall shower heads. The accommodations are also equipped with the latest technology such as large screen televisions with STAYCAST streaming capabilities and charging hubs with USB ports.

Spacious Rooms and Suites at Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel

Categories of rooms include Deluxe King Guest Rooms, Executive Guest Rooms, Junior Suites, Standard One-Bedroom Suites, Deluxe One-Bedroom Suites, and a 1,175 sq ft Private Apartment.

While all of the rooms and suites are spacious, the apartment has a separate seating area and a dining table that seats six. Perfect for entertaining guests or business clients, this expansive space can be made even larger by reserving one or two adjacent rooms, both accessible via connecting doors.

Deluxe Suite Bedroom with adjoining room and city view at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel
Deluxe suites and apartments feature separate bedrooms with adjoining living rooms

The apartment also makes a great bridal suite for pre-nuptial preparations. The large bathroom has a dressing area and magnifying mirror for final touch ups on hair and makeup. After the on-site ceremony and reception, the apartment transforms into the honeymoon suite where the newlyweds can toast to their union with a glass of champagne or enjoy a bite to eat from the room service menu.

Fabulous Functions and Perfect Parties

The Clift Royal Sonesta has redesigned spaces for wedding ceremonies, cocktail receptions, and seated dinners. From more intimate venues like the Calder and Moore rooms and the Spanish Suite, to the Applegarth room and the Redwood Room, which can be combined to host up to 350 guests for a standing reception, the hotel’s wedding professionals can help you plan the wedding of your dreams.

The same venues can be used for other social events and celebrations as well as business meetings and conferences. In addition to the private apartment, the Calder and Moore rooms, the Spanish Suite, the Applegarth room and the Redwood Room, the hotel has four other event spaces including the Maybeck room, the Fraser room, the mezzanine foyer, and an executive boardroom.

spanish suite web at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel shpwing seating and fireplace

The Clift Royal boasts many elegant function and meeting spaces

An in-house Convention Services Manager is available to assist business guests with access to state-of-the-art technology and make sure the space is set up to your specifications. On-site catering is available and can be customized to accommodate dietary restrictions and special requests.

Enjoy a Classy Cocktail at the Redwood Room

Whether you’re staying at the hotel for business or pleasure, a visit to the Redwood Room is a must. Art Deco influences, original artwork, and the room’s legendary redwood paneling have helped this former speakeasy retain its Prohibition-era character. A favorite of celebrities and socialites then and now, the Redwood Room is the place to see and be seen after a show in the nearby Theater District.

While the bar’s history plays into its mystique, its more modern touches make it a 21st-century icon. You’ll find original Gustav Klimt paintings (uncovered onsite during the hotel renovations) restored and re-hung on the walls, new Art Deco-inspired furniture, a salute to the post-prohibition era when the lounge opened, and signature cocktails sweetened with honey from the bees kept on the hotel’s rooftop.

redwood room vip table with guests enjoying a drink at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel
Check out the availability of the VIP tables in the chic Redwood Room bar

The honey also sweetens the butter on the Orange Pull-Apart Buns on the Redwood Room’s irresistible small plates menu. Enjoy them for dessert after your choice of savory selections like tender Waygu Beef Sliders or fresh-from-the-ocean Oysters on the Half Shell. The kitchen is helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Corey who uses seasonal farm-to-table ingredients in his innovative coastal cuisine.

Explore San Francisco

But you don’t have to wait until the evening to sample Chef Corey’s culinary creations. This accomplished chef and his experienced team begin each day by serving a full range of breakfast options at Fredericks, the hotel’s new concept café and eatery. Grab a gourmet pastry and cup of coffee as you’re heading out the door or request a table in the dining room where you can order California-style omelets or shakshuka or choose from more traditional entrees including Belgian waffles, buttermilk pancakes, and cooked-to-order eggs.

San Francisco is a very walkable city, so you’re sure to get your steps in as you explore the neighborhoods surrounding the Clift Royal Sonesta, but if you’re used to a more invigorating workout, you’ll appreciate having access to the hotel’s 24-hour fitness center with the latest high-end equipment. Log into your Peloton account and join a spin class; put yourself through the paces on a top-of-the-line treadmill; do some heavy lifting on the weight machine; or maintain your mobility with kettlebells, balance balls, and free weights.

One Bed Suite Living Room with city view
The hotel’s classy rooms and suites feature great views of the surrounding city

Ellipticals, a stair climber, and a plyometric jump box are also available for your fitness needs. If you prefer to workout in private, you can book a Peloton Package and your room or suite will come equipped with a branded bike.

The Clift Royal Sonesta invites you to experience the hotel’s transformation for yourself by booking one of their exclusive packages for your stay in the City by the Bay.

Reviews, Rates, & Reservations: Be sure to also check out Riley’s preferred affiliate accommodations provider for the latest reviews and rates for stays at The Clift Royal Sonesta.


Contributor Beth Hoke is a travel and lifestyle writer who has created content for some of the industry leaders in experiential travel, including Googles Touring Bird; Tuis blog, Musement; and Vamonde. Her features have appeared online and in print at,, and Military Spouse magazine.

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