Fairmont San Francisco

Fairmont Hotel San Francisco

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The Fairmont San Francisco is a luxury hotel at 950 Mason Street, atop Nob Hill in San Francisco, California. The hotel was named after mining magnate and U.S. Senator James Graham Fair (1831-1894), by his daughters Theresa Fair Oelrichs and Virginia Fair Vanderbilt who built the hotel in his honor.

The hotel was the vanguard of the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts chain. The group is now owned by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, but all the original Fairmont hotels still keep their names.

It has been featured in many films, including The Rock. Exterior and interior shots of the hotel were used as stand-ins for the fictional St. Gregory Hotel in the television series Hotel.

History of the hotel

The hotel was nearly completed before the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Although the structure survived, the interior was heavily damaged by fire, and opening was delayed until 1907. Architect and engineer Julia Morgan was hired to repair the building because of her then innovative use of reinforced concrete, which could produce buildings capable of withstanding earthquakes and other disasters.

In 1945, the Fairmont hosted international statesmen for meetings which culminated in the creation of the United Nations. The United Nations Charter was drafted in the hotel’s Garden Room and a plaque at the hotel memorializes the event.

Among the hotel’s attractions is the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, a historic tiki bar, which opened in 1945 and was remodeled in 1952, and 1967. Elements of the bar were also “updated” in 2009. It features a bandstand on a barge that floats in a former swimming pool, a dining area built from parts of an old sailing ship, and artificial thunderstorms. In January 2009, the owners announced plans to close the Tonga Room in connection with a renovation and condo conversion of the hotel. In response, a group planned to file an application to make the Tonga Room an official San Francisco landmark. The plans were delayed and Tonga Room is still open today (despite many rumors of it’s temporary closure).

Photo credit: “2009-0722-FairmontSF” by Bobak Ha’Eri. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons