By Louise Rafkin
Too often the perfect city get-away comes with a price: thin walls, constant traffic noise and a lingering feeling of hustle and bustle that leaves one less than refreshed after what should have been a holiday renewal. And for those of us with a penchant for partying, a rural retreat can be, well, boring.
But a stay at the Inn at the Presidio, nestled within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, combines the best of both worlds – the beauty and tranquility of retreat into nature, along with easy access to San Francisco’s flashy city life.
The 22-room, three-story inn is located within 1500 acres of parkland in the far northern corner of the city. The Presidio, a former military headquarters, is a prime historical landmark now lovingly preserved by the Presidio Trust, a federal agency. Former barracks house businesses, offices, cafés, and even a bowling alley. The Walt Disney Family Museum, within walking distance of the Inn, gives insight into the sage of the Disney brand, while the nearby Visitor’s center provides up to date information on a multitude of historical programs offered by the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy.
Just outside the Inn, miles of hiking and biking trails are abundant enough to get lost in. On a good day – one without a layer of fog - Sausalito and the Marin headlands can be seen across the span of blue, while Alcatraz Island is perched in sight. With the recent launch of the 2013 America’s Cup race, colorful spinnakers on multi-million dollar yachts can be seen from Crissy Field, a long span of lovely beachfront ribboned by a perfect running trail just a few minutes away.
Most all of this can be seen from the front porch of the Inn, where rocking chairs await. Tucked behind the brick building is a fire pit around which guests convene nightly for a generous cheese and wine reception.
Inside, the Inn’s modern suites sport vaulted ceilings and sleek tiled bathrooms. An abundance of books reference the hotel and Presidio's past, and various items of the décor – framed postcards and period art – give additional insight into the Presidio’s important role in California history.
Beds are outfitted with luxury sheets and a plethora of pillows; the comfortable sitting rooms sport ample seating and a flat screen tv. The well-stocked mini-bar includes an unusual outfitting of full sized bottles of all types of alcohol, and a great offering local wines and champagne. At the continental breakfast, a healthy spread of tasty granola, boiled eggs, scones and fresh fruit accompanied a wide choice of baked goods, ready to sustain – or revive – depending on the day ahead or the night behind.
With the Castro and Mission districts just a 15-minute drive, a stay at the Inn at the Presidio makes perfect sense. It’s a twofer – a luxury gay getaway where the smell of eucalyptus wafts from real trees and not from a fancy soap product. You can both be a party animal and see real animals in the wild. Really, where else but in San Francisco?
Inn at the Presidio, 42 Moraga Avenue; (415) 800-7356; innatthepresidio.com. Single rooms start at $195; Suites run $300-$350; Suites from $335 (depending on floor – better views from the top).