Booming tech start-ups, trendy restaurants, and chic boutiques are just some of the things that make San Francisco one of the most modern cities in the world. It's so modern in fact, it’s hard to see anything past its present-day hustle and bustle.
But whether you realize it or not, the city by the bay holds a rich history; one that has sparked eras of social revolution and political opinion. At the center of it all will forever stand one of it's most historical treasures: San Francisco City Hall.
Our concierge team at W San Francisco set out on an exclusive VIP City Hall tour with Beyond the Fog, a local tour and special events company known for their one-of-a-kind experiences. With the help of the company's founder Susan Brown (former Mayor Willie Brown's daughter) and veteran guide Ellen Schumer, our team got a first-hand look at the inner workings of one of the nation’s most iconic of city halls.
We started our tour at the bottom of the main rotunda where artfully designed stairs made of Tennessee pink marble and floor to ceiling limestone walls make for the perfect photo op.
From there we made our way to the second floor Ceremonial Rotunda where over 45 couples get married DAILY (fun fact: this is this is the same place Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe got hitched back in 1954)!
We headed to the Board of Supervisors’ Chamber where San Francisco's top politicians meet every week. We couldn't help but get 18th century vibes from the sight and scent of the oak carved walls covering the chamber top to bottom.
Our guides led us up several sets of spiraling staircases all the way to the very top of the city hall dome. The best part of the tour had to have been seeing up close and personal the 23.5 karat gold leaf finish on the renaissance inspired decor. Equally amazing was the panoramic views of San Francisco’s downtown area and rolling residential hills.
It goes to show that our tour was an experience full of history and old-time charm. Not many have yet ventured to this vintage crown jewel of San Francisco. So whether you’re a first time visitor looking for a unique urban experience or a SF native looking to further explore your hometown, let our concierge team at W San Francisco and the professionals at Beyond the Fog arrange you a one-of-a-kind tour with exclusive VIP access.
BEYOND THE FOG
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Long are the days when we go to museums to...say, learn stuff. If you’re one of the many who has noticed the multicolored specks sprinkling the sidewalks (and even the BART trains) of San Francisco, you know exactly what I’m talking about. After its success in Los Angeles and New York, The Museum of Ice Cream has taken over the City by the Bay.
Because tickets are notoriously hard to snag (we’re talking months in advance if you’re lucky), we’re giving you a look at the museum that has forever changed our Instagram feeds. Save yourself the trouble of scouring Craigslist for overpriced tickets and check out our highlights. If you’re still having FOMO, don’t worry - there are plenty other options for ice cream and the perfect snap.
1. THE BUILDING
Picture this: a historic 107-year old building designed with the Roman Pantheon in mind meets a Millennial Pink wonderland. There might not be much history involved in the Museum of Ice Cream experience, but the setting provides an interesting contrast to the sprinkles and unicorns.
2. SPRINKLE POOL
The Museum of Ice Cream came to San Francisco after its success in Los Angeles and New York. Though each location offers a completely unique design, the sprinkle pool is the one feature that remains the same.
3. THE STATEMENT PIECE
What do you scream for? We said cocktails, cheers to that! Craft your own message in the statement room.
4. UNICORNS AND RAINBOWS
While we’re embracing our obsession for all things bright and photogenic, we might as well get a picture with the unicorn (with ice cream in hand, of course).
5. SWEET SWINGS
There's no more appropriate way to finish our journey through the ice cream wonderland than swinging in a room full of whipped cream.
Let the sugar high begin! I'll be curled up in the corner next to the gummy bears. Do not disturb.
Tequila aficionado, traveler, explorer, and artist are only a few of the things that define Annamarie Pabst. Annamarie started working at W San Francisco in fall of 2011 as a Cocktail Server in the Living Room Bar. Serving drinks by night (very delicious drinks, I might add) and painting by day, Annamarie has fused many of her interests to build a portfolio of inspiring work over the years.
It all started back in St. Paul, Minnesota where Annamarie grew up. From there, she went on to study in Portland, Oregon, then spent a semester abroad in Kenya and Tanzania, and most recently lived in Vietnam for a year teaching English to primary school children. All of this before she landed in San Francisco! Are you getting wanderlust yet?
Her travels around the world and in our very own city of San Francisco have been a source of inspiration for Annamarie’s art. We played 21 questions to find out what inspires her to create, her go-to karaoke song, and how she navigates life as an artist in San Francisco.
Of all the amazing places to which you have traveled, do you have a favorite?
I got to see the Northern Lights on a backpacking trip in Western Canada. I’ll never forget that. I was also fortunate to study abroad in Kenya and Tanzania for a semester in college. Before moving to San Francisco, I spent a year in Vietnam teaching English.
Have you drawn inspiration from your travels for your art?
While I was studying in Vietnam, I took a trip to Cambodia that inspired my series of charcoal drawings S-21 Prison Series. I visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh where the walls are lined with mugshots of some of the victims of Khmer Rouge. This experience stuck with me well beyond my time in Vietnam and Cambodia. I didn’t begin my series of charcoal portraits until 2012, which took three years to complete.
You’ve been around the world, but what are some of your favorite things about your home in San Francisco?
San Francisco is packed with gorgeous parks, beaches, and stunning views. Lafayette Park, the Presidio, and Crissy Field to name a few. I love walking around in North Beach and drinking at ancient establishments such as House of Shields or Vesuvio.
How does San Francisco inspire your art?
Inspiration and ideas formulate in bits and pieces over time. Literature, movies, travel, people I know, music, illustrations, wilderness, architecture, all of these things can contribute to envisioning a painting. Caravaggio’s work inspires me, as well as movies directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.
Favorite restaurant in San Francisco?
Any guilty pleasures?
Cheese. It’s the best.
Drink of choice?
Favorite cocktail at W San Francisco?
The R&R. It's a Manhattan that tastes like root beer. So you get to feel like a grown-up and a kid at the same time.
Go-to karaoke song?
In my imaginary life, it’s “When You Were Mine” by Cindy Lauper
Annamarie’s S-21 Portrait Series will be on display at the Roll Up Gallery at Public Works from February 10 – March 10. Celebrate the opening of this exhibit this Friday, February 10th from 6 – 9 PM.
Opening Friday, February 10th, 2017
6 – 9 PM
Roll Up Gallery
161 Erie Street
The W San Francisco team is full of talent and inspiration. Read more about our talent and contributors here.
If we were to capture all the stories our guests bring in when they stay at W San Francisco, we would have an endless book of journeys. We love to be inspired by the endless creativity out there, so we sat down with the creative mind behind the Instagram account @paperboyo, Rich McCor.
We caught up with Rich over breakfast at TRACE. Not only did we get his story, we also got to watch him do his thing, live!
Rich started his Instagram account @paperboyo in 2015 with the intent of changing the monotonous and unchangeable scenery of some of the most iconic staples of the world. Think the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Burj al Arab in Dubai, or the Statue of Liberty in New York City. He wanted to make these classic staples different and make people smile, but never with a clear strategy or intention of turning it into a job. With the growing interest in photography and his previous knowledge in papercraft, he blended these two arts and did just that, change the scenic frames of the staples of the world with a twist of wit.
This is what he told us. Oh, and don’t forget to read it out loud in a British accent…
From your beginnings in 2009, when did it really hit you that your art form was taking off?
In October 2015, I was in Paris and I had just taken the photo of the lego man on the Arc de Triomphe and the press started to pick up on that. The Daily Mail in the UK reached out and asked a few questions, I sent them a few photos but didn’t think too much of it. At that point, I had 5,000 followers and had been focusing on building up my following. I remember going to a bar with some friends and whilst I was there I checked my Instagram and it jumped from 5,000 to 10,000 just from the article. By the end of that same week, I had 30,000 followers on Instagram.
How did this eventually turn into a job and how do you earn a living?
Right now, the traveling portion of the job isn’t covered, but it is the most fun part of it and where I create most of my content. Sponsored posts or promos for films is where I get my income at the moment, but I’m still kind of figuring it out and finding a path. I am also coming out with coffee table book with my photography. I am hoping to take February and March off and meet with the designers to get that going.
Is there an influencer that inspires you?
There is a guy called @abstractsunday who is an illustrator for the New Yorker, and he was one of the first people I followed. He does these really bizarre illustrations, and he just has a really good sense of humor. Looking at his stuff, I definitely got inspiration. There are also a couple of really great photographers in London that I follow, and I like bloggers that share good travel tips and advice. When it comes to bloggers, I like the ones that share their experiences rather than brag about them. I felt inspired by bloggers who had the ability to make their followers feel like they were coming on the journey with them.
Aside from W San Francisco, which W is the coolest?
I’ve only been to W Dubai right before I came to San Francisco, the design of that one was wicked. And I know the one in London which I walk past, but I live in London so I haven’t stayed there.
What do your family and friends say about your Instagram lifestyle?
I think they are so used to it now but gosh it was such a long conversation explaining to my grandma what I do. I remember telling my parents that I was quitting my job to go full-time Instagramming, there was this silence on the other side of the phone but then I told them how much I got paid for one of the jobs.
And this is where we mentioned that the oatmeal that was served at our TRACE breakfast table had honey from our own rooftop bees, and as any passionate photographer, Rich’s eyes lit up and asked us for the opportunity to check it out. Little did he know that we had something up our sleeves as well… we brought our own, San Franciscan symbol, a unicorn cut-out for him to play with!
This is what it looked like from our perspective.
Look out for @paperboyo's W San Francisco finished art on our page. We will share the amazing work once it hits our DM.
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Take a walk through the history of fashion this weekend at the Salvatore Ferragamo San Francisco store. Ferragamo's legendary designs will be on display and available for purchase in limited quantities. "Ferragamo's Creations," a special installation of limited edition archival accessories, will be on display this weekend only at the store's Post Street location. These are the very same designs that were inspired by Hollywood stars in the 1920's and 30's and that are still on display at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence.
Salvatore Ferragamo worked with many Hollywood stars in the 1920's and 30's, including Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. "The Rainbow" was created for Judy Garland in 1938 as a tribute to her signature song "Over the Rainbow." This shoe was the first of its kind, inventing the first platform wedge design. See this beauty in person this weekend in San Francisco.
The "Cage Heel" was another one of Ferragamo's creative inventions that will be on display this weekend in the San Francisco store. In the 1950's, Ferragamo filed a series of patents, including the metallic heel, the metal sole, and of course the "cage" heel. The idea was that the heel could be covered by different sheaths, so the shoe could be worn for many different occasions.
Inspired by the shoes worn during the Renaissance period, Ferragamo created the "Renaissance Sandal" in 1938.
The "Creations" collection allows you to (quite literally) walk in the shoes of old Hollywood stars, but keep in mind that all of the shoes in the collection are limited in quantity. Each shoe is stamped with its number in the edition, keeping these shoes very exclusive.
236 Post Street
San Francisco, CA
When you’re a tastemaker, you can’t just stay anywhere when you travel. You must stay at a place whose boldness matches your own style. That is why Brenda Wasylucha, creator of Taste Mak-er, chose the W Hotel for her weekend getaway to San Francisco.
Brenda’s style is classic, yet bold. Though neutral colors define her look, she uses distinct shapes to set herself apart.
Traveling to San Francisco requires a lot of planning. Strategic packing to prepare for all sorts of weather is a must. It might be bright and sunny everywhere else in the Bay, but there's a great chance that Karl the Fog will cover the city at some point during your trip.
But if you're a tastemaker you can't let the weather affect your style. If anything, embrace the perpetual cool climate and take advantage of your chance to wear boots year round.
We caught up with Brenda, a true fashionista wherever she goes, to find out her insider tips for travelling in San Francisco.
Q: Packing for a getaway to San Francisco can be tricky. What advice do you have for those that want to stay stylish yet practical?
Brenda: Bring an umbrella, a good jacket and good rain shoes. Layering pieces are key. Unfortunately, I didn’t consider bringing rain boots and suffered a tad for it.
Q: San Francisco is known for its hills. How did you prepare for this?
B: Make sure to pack for long walks and all sorts of weather. I was really glad I brought comfortable shoes for our walk around Golden Gate Park. You can’t go to SF and not explore its wonders on foot, it’s kind of what everyone does there.
Q: What are your top 3 sites to see in San Francisco?
1. Twin Peaks Summit – breathtaking!
2. Golden Gate Park – amazing view and sea lions. It’s a win win.
3. The Painted Ladies – where the blogger in me came out. I love aesthetically pleasing architecture.
Q: San Francisco is a foodie’s dream come true. Tourists come to the city just to eat. As a food enthusiast, it is important to strategically plan your meals to pack in the best of the best. As a vegan, how did you prepare for your weekend getaway in San Francisco?
B: Well, I consider myself vegan-ish. I eat fish once in a while. I think it’s a lot easier for vegans to travel as of late, it’s catching on and even if a restaurant isn’t necessarily vegan, most are pretty accommodating. 5 years ago it was much harder. Yelp also helps.
Q: What were your favorite dishes in San Francisco?
B: The squash crostini at TRACE! It was so different from your average avocado toast. I loved the touch of pomegranate seed, it’s exciting when restaurants experiment with new combinations and surprising flavors.
Another favorite was the peanut butter bar from Wholesome Bakery. I’m still dreaming about that thing.
Explore more of Brenda's Insider Picks in San Francisco.
Note: All photos courtesy of Brenda Wasylucha.
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SOUTH OF MARKET
W San Francisco is lucky to be part of such a culturally aware neighborhood in San Francisco. Home to many murals, museums, and public art exhibitions, South of Market (SoMa) has a reputation as the art hub of the city. SoMa has more than 12 museums in just 2 square miles - including our neighbor SFMOMA, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Museum of the African Diaspora.
Sites Unseen, a public art project of the Yerba Buena Commnity, has worked to beautify our neighborhood over the last few years with temporary art installations, performances, screenings, and other happenings.
If you walk around our beautiful neighborhood, you will find works of art everywhere - including alleyways, sides of buildings, and other underutilized spaces.
Barry McGee was part of the graffiti boom in the Bay Area during the early 1980s. Walk through any neighborhood in the city, and you will find that the influence of this movement is still alive. A native San Franciscan, McGee took inspiration from contemporary urban culture, which can be seen in his paintings, drawings, and mixed media.
As part of their effort to transform public spaces in a creative way, Sites Unseen is installing its first permanent large-scale exhibit in the Moscone Center Garage. Artist Barry McGee's iconic work will cover the exterior of the building in addition to an installation on the roof of the garage.
Not only does the Barry McGee installation enhance a building that we walk by every day, but we also get to explore the work by one of the Bay Area's most talented artists. All for free! The best part is that it's just a block away from W San Francisco.
Celebrate the unveiling of the Barry McGee installation this weekend on the rooftop of the Moscone Center Garage. The event will feature projects by other local artists including Fallen Fruit, Ramekon O'Arwisters and Leah Rosenberg.
Sunday, October 9
3 - 6 PM
Moscone Center Garage
255 Third Street
You’ve got your Outside Lands lineup figured out and Spotify playlist on repeat - but what about that perfect festival outfit? The San Francisco climate demands thoughtful planning when it comes to fashion. You might get a few weird looks showing up to Golden Gate Park in daisy dukes and a crochet bralette.
This is no Coachella when it comes to the weather, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t obsess over bandana scarves and fringe galore. Layer up, accessorize and prepare for Karl the Fog to engulf Golden Gate Park at night.
TopShelf is a one-stop-shop when it comes to festival wear. With brands like For Love and Lemons and Mink Pink, there is something for every type of Outside Lands girl. The TopShelf team are top-notch stylists, recommending the perfect choker/sunnie combo to go with that dress that you picked out. Whether your style is classic, girly, bohemian, or rocker-chic, you can certainly find an OSL look that will turn heads.
I put three Outside Lands looks together with the help of the TopShelf SF crew.
Two pieces are better than one. Nothing says festival-wear like the pom pom Alessandra top paired with matching mini skirt.
The key to surviving Outside Lands is layers, layers, layers. Bring along an over sized bag to stash those extra layers for an easy transition from day to night.
Don’t forget to plan your shoe game around the dusty Golden Gate Park. Keep it chic by pairing Converse with a feminine dress, like the Sweet Jane Swing Dress by For Love & Lemons. Complete the look with a suede bomber and fun pair of shades.
Festival fashion is all about the accessories - round sunnies, bohemian jewels, floppy hats and fringe handbags. Pair a swing dress with over the knee boots and a wrap choker.
You’re all set for OSL 2016. Sing, eat and dance your hearts out (all while looking cute)!
50 Post Street Ste 13
Whether you're a local or a tourist, San Francisco has many picture-perfect destinations to explore. Take advantage of the vibrant scenery and unique aesthetic that San Francisco has to offer. This guide offers up my favorite picks for the best Instagram shots in San Francisco.
From gorgeous 360 views to abandoned bathhouses from the early 19th century, this city holds endless possibilities for your creative eye. After you visit the tourist hotspots, escape to alternative areas of the city where you can capture a unique perspective.
SUTRO BATHS AND LAND'S END
Once a spot to mix and mingle, now Sutro Baths lays in ruins. Though this spot is on the far Western side of the city, it is definitely worth the trek. Explore this area for hidden treasures that make for that perfect Instagram shot.
Start at Sutro Baths and then explore the Land's End's Coastal Trail. If you're lucky you'll stumble upon the famous labyrinth, built by artist Eduardo Aguilera in 2004. The location of the labyrinth is one of San Francisco's best kept secrets, which is why locals and tourists alike make it their mission to explore Land's End until they find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. (I spent a year of hiking regularly at Land's End before I finally went down the right path.)
INSIDER TIP Walk down Judah Street on your way to Sutro Baths for a bite to eat at Java Beach Cafe or a coffee from Trouble.
In the geographical center of the city, Corona Heights offers stunning 360 views.
INSIDER TIP Because Corona Heights is centrally located, it is only a few short blocks from famous neighborhoods. Visit Haight Ashbury or the Castro District before heading over to make an afternoon of it.
Corona Heights Park
Cross the bridge and climb Hawk Hill for that classic shot of the Golden Gate. Once you cross the bridge, Sausalito is close by. Stop by Bar Bocce for a game of Bocce Ball on the waterfront.
San Francisco is famous for its creative and vibrant street art. Head to Clarion Alley in the Mission District to see the best of the best.
INSIDER TIP The Mission District has some of the best taquerias in the city. While you're here, head to La Taqueira or El Farolito for a taste.
Fusing the worlds of art, music, design, nightlife and more, 111 Minna Gallery offers a unique space in the Soma neighborhood of San Francisco. Minna Gallery creates a comfortable and appropriate setting for each chapter of the day. Stop for coffee before work, cocktails during happy hour, then again on the weekend to hear some of the best local DJs in San Francisco, all while enjoying the
monthly rotation of unique art exhibitions.
With weekly events and happenings, there are so many reasons to visit 111 Minna Gallery. Wine Down Mondays will help you beat the Monday blues. Half off bottles of wine? Yes please.
Throw it back on the second Saturday of each month when the 90’s go head to head with the 2000’s. Brittany Spears will battle it out with Nirvana, Snoop Dogg, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Visit again on the last Friday of the month for Trap x Art, a “celebration of beautifully diverse people, unparalleled live art exhibits showcasing amazingly talented arts, and of course dope music.”
Each month features a different musical tribute, from Notorious B.I.G. to Prince. If you’re looking to make your own mark, the event features interactive stations where attendees are encouraged to express themselves artistically.
111 Minna has it all. Love art? Check. Looking for a meeting space? They’ve got it. Need a coffee? Check. Something stronger? The bar is full. Just want to take a break from the work day? You can do that too – admission to the gallery free all day with the exception of special events. Head over at any hour for a different and unique experience.
111 Minna Street
San Francisco, CA