Savor a taste of la belle pays at Cornell Hotel de France in San Francisco and its on-site restaurant, Jeanne d'Arc. Located just a couple of blocks from Union Square, and easily within walking distance to San Francisco's iconic Chinatown, the hotel is ideally situated to stay in European style while exploring the Golden City.
A hotel for francophiles in San Francisco
France captured my heart with its reserved glamour on my first visit to the country at age 15. I fell so deeply for this fashionable culture, in fact, that after a couple of days in Paris, I declared to my unbelieving family that someday I would live in France. I made good on that promise, chasing after France's confidence and a command of its beautiful language for one school year during college. I wish I could go to France every year. Alas, the distance and flight cost make this difficult. Luckily, there is a closer and more affordable way to get my francophile fix. Cornell Hotel de France looks, sounds, tastes and feels like a little slice of France stateside.
European feel and touches
If you're seeking a European experience in San Francisco, you will find Cornell Hotel de France a charming and welcoming alternative to a huge, stark chain hotel. First, you'll be given a real metal room key rather than electronic card entrance. An old fashioned elevator will transport you from floor to floor, each of which is decorated in the style of a different French artist like Chagall, Matisse, Gauguin, Toulouse Lautrec, and Modigliani (an Italian painter and sculptor who lived for much of his life in France). Eventually, you will notice that most of your fellow hotel guests have a European accent of some sort.
Like a bed & breakfast
Built in 1910, Cornell Hotel de France has been owned by the same French family, the Lamberts, for over 50 years. Similar to a bed & breakfast, each of the hotel's 48 rooms is uniquely decorated and the inn's operators are personable. The hotel has an elegant, yet relaxed feel. The hotel's lobby dog, a mellow golden retriever, adds to the homey feel.
At Cornell Hotel de France, expect hand-painted murals, old world decor, and, in some en suite bathrooms, clawfoot tubs. Choose from five room types, all with private bath.
I bedded down in a Cozy Queen Room, a modest-sized and affordably priced space ideal for a single traveler or romantic couple. For a larger room, choose a Junior Suite with queen bed and elegant sitting room, or a Premier Triple Room with queen bed and twin bed for up to three guests. Families seeking more space can book two rooms, as long as at least one adult stays in each.
Jeanne d'Arc Restaurant
Like most hotels in Europe, Cornell Hotel de France provides included breakfast. Unlike most French hotels, though, this breakfast is cooked to order rather than simple continental fare. Choose from hot tea or coffee, plus orange juice and daily specials like pancakes and egg dishes. Breakfast is served downstairs, in the handsome Jeanne d'Arc Restaurant. Remember, you are in a petite Europe here where diners savor their meals so you may need to wait for a table in the morning.
Jeanne d'Arc Restaurant is decorated with fleurs de lis, stained glass, and Joan of Arc statues and paintings. The restaurant is also open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. A daily four-course prix fixe menu of traditional French cuisine is offered. I enjoyed a rich bowl of pumpkin soup, followed by a green salad with asparagus and shrimp, and then pan-seared halibut with white wine sauce, potatoes au gratin (delicious!) and vegetables. Sadly, due to a gluten sensitivity I was unable to try their signature Grand Marnier Souffle. It looked scrumptious but their poached pears with ice cream and chocolate sauce satisfied my sweet tooth.
Why Cornell Hotel de France
You could always book a stay in a standard American hotel in San Francisco. For a memorable experience, though, choose Cornell Hotel de France. You will be transported to Europe, with the wonders of San Francisco right outside the hotel's front door. You will remember the French artwork, the delicious food, the beautiful European decor and the warm welcome.
Other nearby touches of France in San Francisco
San Francisco's excellent cuisine, pretty architecture, and stylish populace is reminiscent of France. During your stay, you may want to keep your French dream alive by submersing yourself in French culture even further. For me, this meant seeking out a local French wine bar, Aquitaine Wine Bistro, where I could sip a glass of rose and read a memoir about living in France. Disappear into the world of France with My Life in France by Julia Child, A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz, or Lunch in Paris or Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard.
Happy reading, bon appetit, and sweet dreams in San Francisco!
Would you consider a stay at Cornell Hotel de France? Let us know in the comments below!
A Note from The Travel Mama: Cornell Hotel de France hosted me during my two-night stay in San Francisco. All opinions are mine, as always. This story includes affiliate links. Your purchases and clicks help to keep TravelMamas.com a free resource for readers like you.