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Looking for a Bed-and-Breakfast?
Here's Your Guide to Neighborhood Guesthouses
By Pat Rose
Natives know where to go for a real San Francisco experience: the city's neighborhoods. What better way to make family and friends comfortable than to have them stay close by in one of Noe Valley's guesthouses. While many local guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts have been hit by the current economic slump--and by the competition from a drop in downtown hotel prices--the good news is guests no longer have to book six months in advance and can sometimes negotiate a lower room rate. Still, most guesthouses report business is steady, at least on the weekends.
In Noe Valley we are fortunate to have a mix of lodgings that serve a wide range of needs. You can find a cottage with handicapped access for grandparents, several places that welcome children, or a quiet room in a house, for a friend.
In this survey, which updates our B&B roundups in the June 1997 and May 1999 issues, the Voice uncovered a variety of hospitality styles: a European-style tourist home, a fully furnished private flat in an old Victorian, a converted studio apartment, and a private secluded room to hide out in for the weekend.
Most of the guesthouses are centrally located in the neighborhood and within walking distance of Church or 24th Street shops, cafes, and restaurants. Many have easy access to the J-Church and other Muni lines. A few are just down the hill in the Mission or the Castro District, but tend to draw a large part of their clientele from Noe Valley referrals.
Some of the owners we talked to have been entertaining guests for years. Others are new to the business. All enjoy playing host and representing our fair city to visitors from out of town.
Travelers (and residents), take note: All of these inns and guesthouses are non-smoking. Most do not have parking. And many of them charge an additional 14 percent San Francisco hotel tax. Be sure to ask for the complete tally.
Then take your glass of chardonnay out on the deck, breathe in that exhilarating fog, and enjoy a sweeping view of the hills made famous by Steve McQueen. (You did remember to bring a jacket?)
B&Bs from A to Z
Douglass Street near 20th
Contact: Jim and Diane DeLange
On a quiet, tree-lined street on the hill separating Noe and Eureka valleys, just below the Douglass Street steps, sits a picturesque 1912 English cottage. Through the white gate and past the small garden, blooming with fuchsia and lavender impatiens, is the private front entrance to this studio guestroom, once the front parlor of the original house.
The guestroom is cozy and has a queen-size sleigh bed covered in 400-count cotton percale sheets (that owner Diane DeLange insists on ironing herself) and a white down comforter. Next to the bed is a small cafe table for two, and along the far wall a kitchenette with sink, coffeemaker, electric tea kettle, and mini-refrigerator under the counter.
The room has a private bath with shower, and ample closet space. Jim and Diane DeLange offer a breakfast of pastries, cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, hardboiled eggs, coffee and tea. The street-level entrance is handicapped accessible to accommodate older guests.
Cottage Gate rates are $95 per night, two-night minimum; $90 per night for seven nights or more. Sorry, the DeLanges are not able to take children or pets. Room amenities include a TV, VCR, and private phone line.
Dolores Park Inn
3641 17th Street between
Church and Dolores
Web Site: www.doloresparkinn.net
Down the hill from Noe Valley and just beyond Dolores Park is a striking two-story Italianate Victorian surrounded by a gold-tipped, wrought-iron fence. Built in 1874, this historic house is framed by two blooming bottlebrush trees and twin lion statues guarding the entrance.
Inside is a double parlor featuring an 1860 Queen Anne secretary and a Victorian settee nestled in front of a large brick fireplace where afternoon coffee, tea, and wine are served. Owner Bernie Vielwerth, who bought the house 23 years ago, has spent years restoring it and filling it with antiques from around the world.
Down the hall is an ornate dining room--with a glass table, red velvet chairs, and a marble fireplace--where breakfast is served from 8 to 10 a.m. every morning. Breakfast, says Vielwerth, is "everything except meat": eggs, toast, waffles, cheese, bagels, yogurt, and fresh fruit. On sunny days, breakfast is served outside on a patio behind the kitchen where guests can commune with Vielwerth's assortment of finches, cockatiels, canaries, and a parrot named Congo.
Upstairs, the Inn offers three guest bedrooms and one guest suite. Two of the bedrooms, decorated with antique armoires and lace curtains, have queen-size beds and large walk-in closets. The third, smaller bedroom, in the front of the house, has a twin bed. Each of the bedrooms shares a bathroom and shower down the hall. The guest suite features a bedroom with a four-poster, queen-size bed; an additional room with a small kitchen and daybed; a private bathroom with marble floors and a shower; TV and VCR; and a 20-foot outdoor deck.
A carriage house across from the patio is also available for guests. This large, 1,000-square-foot carriage house has Carrara marble floors (with radiant heating), 14-foot ceilings, a fireplace, private Jacuzzi, a full kitchen, a separate bedroom, and living and dining areas.
Rates for the guestrooms and suite are $89 to $249 per night, with a two-night minimum. The carriage house rate is $300 per night, three-night minimum. There is limited off-street parking for an additional fee. The Dolores Park Inn is located close to the J-Church streetcar line and two blocks from historic Mission Dolores.
25th Street between
Church and Dolores
Contact: Dave Kettering
Web Site: www.doloresplace.com
This studio guestroom is the lower unit of a charming 100-year-old Victorian row house. Set high on a hill on 25th Street, Dolores Place offers a scenic view of both the Valley and the mountains of Twin Peaks. It also is only a short hike to Church Street cafes.
Guests walk up to a private sunny deck just steps from their room's private entrance. Inside, a queen-size cherry sleigh bed provides the focal point of the room. There's a small table for two and a kitchenette in the corner with a mini-refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, toaster, and sink. A large private bath with a shower is tucked behind the kitchenette.
Owner Dave Kettering, who lives upstairs in the house, stocks a continental-style breakfast--fresh fruit, yogurt, juice, sweet rolls, cereal, coffee and tea--the night before guests check in.
The rate is $119 per night, with a two-night minimum on weekends. Amenities include a VCR, cable TV, and a private phone. No pets, but children are welcome.
28th Street between
Sanchez and Church
Contact: Bob Small, Manager
A garden path covered with Mexican sage, roses, and lilies leads to the Garden Cottage on 28th Street. The cottage faces the backyard deck of the owners' Victorian house, and has its own small front porch full of potted geraniums and other spring flowers.
Guests walk into a small sitting room with a sofa that converts to a twin-size bed. A small bath with a shower and linen closet is tucked in the corner. From the sitting room, they step up into a bedroom with a queen-size bed, and then to a full-size kitchen, stocked with coffee, juice, cereal, fresh fruit, and bottled water.
The cottage costs $125 per night and comes equipped with a stereo, TV, VCR, and private phone for local calls. Weekly rates are available. Children are fine, pets negotiable.
If you're looking for more space, Garden Cottage manager Bob Small says he also manages, but does not advertise, two other guest apartments in Noe Valley. One is a two-bedroom flat on the top floor of a Victorian on Vicksburg Street between 21st and 22nd streets, and the other is a two-bedroom flat on the second floor of a two-flat building on 23rd between Castro and Diamond. Each apartment rents for $140 per night.
1186 Noe Street between
Jersey and 25th
Contac: Dave and Ginger Cannata
Web Site: www.hidden-cottage.com
This striking two-story white Victorian farmhouse, with bougainvillea blooming over the front door, was built in 1870 when the neighborhood was still dotted with dairy farms. Owners Dave and Ginger Cannata live in the farmhouse and offer a guestroom with lots of privacy and charm located at the back of the house.
A narrow path winds around the side of the house, through a garden full of impatiens, roses, and plum trees, and up a wooden staircase to a light and airy room with a skylight. The room boasts a queen-size cast-iron bed, an antique oak dresser, two closets, comfy chairs, and "lots of books." A deck off the bedroom has an outdoor shower, potted ferns, and tables and chairs for sunbathers. Inside, a large bathroom comes with a double tub, marble floors, and skylight.
Breakfast is coffee, tea, croissants, and fresh fruit, hand-delivered in a picnic basket. This B&B is "hidden" one-and-a-half short blocks from 24th Street.
The rate is $150 per night, with a two-night minimum stay. The room limit is two people. You may not need them, but the cottage has a TV/VCR and a private phone.
3973 23rd Street near Noe Street
Web Site: www.noesnest.com
Noe's Nest, located a block from 24th Street, is the oldest-running B&B in Noe Valley. Owner Sheila Rubinson opened her home to guests back in 1988. Fifteen years later, she rents out six rooms and has moved herself to another Victorian in the neighborhood. Rubinson and manager Cindy Thomson make an extra effort to welcome guests, visiting with them over coffee, offering discounts from 24th Street merchants, even occasionally showing them around the city.
The common area and center of the house is a large kitchen and dining area full of family photographs covering the walls. A "Brooklyn Breakfast" buffet is served daily from 8 to 11 a.m., and features fresh fruit, bagels, lox, cream cheese, cereal, quiche or tarts, and Joseph Schmidt chocolates. Friends and family are welcome to join guests for breakfast for an additional $5. In warm weather, guests can take their breakfast outside to the front deck of the house overlooking 23rd Street.
Each of the five guestrooms has a private bathroom--and a theme. The smallest is the "Oriental Room," featuring a colorful kimono on the wall, a Japanese lacquered desk, a queen-size bed, and a sleeping loft ideal for two children. The "Garden Room" has a queen-size sleeper sofa, a queen bed, a working fireplace, and a redwood deck that overlooks the back garden.
The patio garden offers a hot tub that is accessible to all guests through an enclosed alleyway on the side of the house. The garden also has a freestanding guestroom, the "Tree House," built around a live pine tree that winds up through the roof. Tarzan and Jane would be comfy here, but perhaps not in the pink "French Room," furnished in French provincial style and reached via a private entrance off the alleyway.
Upstairs are two additional rooms: the "Castaway Room," with a 1920s brass bed and a window seat that converts to a twin bed, and the two-level "Penthouse Suite," which boasts a sitting room with a full-size parlor bed, a bedroom with a corner fireplace and a king-size bed, a combination shower and steam room, a stackable washer/dryer, refrigerator, and a large sunny deck with a view of Noe Valley.
Rates range from $99 to $179 per night, double-occupancy. Each room has its own bath with shower, queen-size bed, cable TV/VCR, and private phone with free local calls.
Bed and Breakfast
25th Street between
Vicksburg and Church
Contact: Patti Oliver
Web Site: www.oliverhouse.info
Patti Oliver has been renting her cozy one-bedroom guesthouse, an in-law apartment on the bottom floor of her house, since the mid-1990s.
A private street-level entrance opens into a bedroom with country décor: floral wallpaper, handmade quilts, and decorative pillows. The room offers a double bed, desk, dresser, and walk-in closet. A small sitting room has a couch and chairs set around a brick fireplace, and Oliver's extensive collection of Blue Willow china adorns a sideboard along one wall.
There is a small kitchen, with a two-burner stove, microwave, a small refrigerator, and a complete set of dishes and pots and pans. Breakfast is usually pastry, fresh fruit, juice, and coffee, which Oliver stocks in the kitchen before guests arrive. A small bathroom off the living room includes a tiled shower.
The rate is $125 per night, with a two-night minimum, but weekly rates are also available. The room comes with cable TV and a private phone line. Oliver says pre-toddler infants are welcome, but the B&B is unable to accommodate older children.
The Parker Guest House
520 Church Street near 18th Street
Contact: Bill Boeddiker
and Bob O'Halloran
Web Site: www.parkerguesthouse.com
The Parker Guest House is actually two houses: a 1909 Edwardian mansion and a 1910 Victorian joined by a central courtyard plaza, both recognizable from the street by their bright yellow exterior.
Visitors are welcomed into the Edwardian's grand foyer with a display of fresh-cut flowers from the garden. A beautifully appointed front parlor showcases a baby grand piano, a marble fireplace, an 1860 English settee, and comfortable chairs for guests to relax in while they sip their sherry each evening. A mid-19th-century English sideboard is now the reception desk in what was once the mansion's formal dining room. (The room still retains its original Victorian stained-glass window.)
Breakfast is served at the back of the house in a sunroom off the large kitchen. The guesthouse offers an abundant continental breakfast of pastry, fruit salad, cereal, yogurt, toast, English muffins, fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee and tea. The sunroom and deck look out over a backyard garden filled with roses, lilies, sweet alyssum, and lobelia. Among the flowers is a gazebo and a sunning patio sporting Adirondack chairs. Just below the garden is a tiled steam room.
From the garden, guests walk across the center courtyard to the Parker's second house, a Victorian that owners Bill Boeddiker and Bob O'Halloran acquired last year. Inside it is another grand foyer, this one with hand-carved garlands in the ceiling and a tastefully appointed sitting room. A stained-glass skylight, designed by Noe Valley's Cradle of the Sun, is featured in an upstairs hallway.
In all, there are 21 guestrooms ranging in size from a standard queen to a junior king suite (with a separate sitting area, writing desk, and small balcony). All the rooms have down comforters, armoires, fresh flowers, and terrycloth robes. Each has its own tiled bath, except for two smaller "economy" rooms, which share a bath. Boeddiker says his guesthouse entertains business travelers and a large gay and lesbian clientele.
Rates are $119 to $199 per night. Amenities includes concierge service, in-room modem ports, cable TV, private phones, and voicemail. You must leave your dog at home, but you can park your car onsite for an additional charge.
Liberty Street between
Noe and Castro
Contact: Gabriela Tinoco
Web Site: www.seagrasshideaway.com
To accommodate visiting family from El Salvador, New York, and Florida--as well as guests from all over the world--civil engineer Gabriela Tinoco recently remodeled her one-bedroom in-law apartment, turning it into a stylish one-bedroom guesthouse. Her goal was to evoke the "serenity of a Zen retreat with modern conveniences."
The first thing you see when you walk into this luxury suite is the sleek bamboo flooring and the contemporary kitchen, which features cherrywood cabinets, new stainless-steel appliances, and pendant lights hanging from the ceiling over an island bar. There is a dining area tucked under a picture window and French doors opening onto a deck with a view of Buena Vista Park. A separate bedroom offers a queen-size feather bed. Parties of four (or families with children) can take advantage of the two twin-size Aerobeds stashed in the closet.
Guests are greeted with Christian Dior robes and fresh flowers. They can also relax in a redwood hot tub imbedded in a second deck in a backyard garden. Tinoco does not serve breakfast but the apartment has a full kitchen with microwave, coffeemaker, toaster, and complete set of dishes and cutlery.
The rate is $160 per night (for up to two people), with a three-night minimum; or $1,000 per week. Children are welcome. Small pets are negotiable. Amenities include cable TV, DVD, "surround-sound" stereo, a private phone line with answering machine, and access to Nautilus fitness equipment, fax, and the Internet.
The Spare Room
30th Street between
Sanchez and Noe
Contact: Judy Berg
For guests who don't care about frills, and who don't mind getting their own breakfast at nearby Hungry Joe's or Café XO, the Spare Room is a real bargain.
Owner Judy Berg offers a room upstairs at the back of her Victorian home, with its own private entrance. The room is sparse: a double bed, dresser, desk, a small space heater for cold nights, and a side porch for use in warmer weather. The private guest bathroom is downstairs and must be accessed by going outside and down the steps behind the house. Berg recommends looking at the room before booking; its barebones décor and lack of amenities are not for everyone.
But the price may be right: $45 per night, "usually" with a one-week limit.
Summer Cottage, Island Cottage, Cecilia Cottage
Elizabeth Street between
Sanchez and Vicksburg
Contact: Dave and Ginger Cannata
Web Site: www.hidden-cottage.com
Just around the corner from 24th Street, nestled behind an iron gate and large pots of colorful geraniums, is a yellow and white turn-of-the-century Victorian. Recently renovated by Dave and Ginger Cannata, who also own the successful Hidden Cottage bed-and-breakfast on Noe Street, these three "cottages" are actually one-bedroom apartments within the house.
Summer Cottage is the back unit in the Victorian, and it has a private entrance at the side of the house. Guests walk in through the bedroom, which has a queen-size bed and white ceiling fan. A large eat-in country kitchen off the bedroom boasts black-and-white-checkered floors and an old-fashioned hoosier cupboard. A sitting room with a queen-size pullout couch leads out to a porch overlooking the backyard garden, where Dave's son has been planting a garden of rose beds and impatiens among the lemon trees. This cottage sleeps four.
Island Cottage offers a sitting room with table and chairs by a window looking out on Elizabeth Street, a small bedroom with a queen-size sleigh bed, a newly remodeled bathroom with shower and tub, and a small galley kitchen in the back of the apartment. From the outside entrance, guests walk into a small foyer with a large closet. Island sleeps three.
Cecilia Cottage is a three-room apartment upstairs that also overlooks Elizabeth Street. A small open sitting room at the top of the stairs has a pullout couch and chairs. A folksy eat-in kitchen with peach walls, wood floors, painted roosters perched on the windowsills, and a red-checkered tablecloth may encourage you to sit down for tea. The bedroom features a queen-size iron bed and large dresser. There's a bath with a shower and tub. Cecilia Cottage sleeps three.
Each apartment has a full kitchen with gas stove, TV/VCR (no cable), private phone, and lots of closet space. The refrigerator and pantry are stocked with coffee, juice, and croissants, and 24th Street cafes are only a block away.
The rate for each cottage is $150 per night. Guests must stay a minimum of two nights.
The Willows Inn
710 14th Street at
Church and Market
Contact: Brad Goessler
Web Site: www.WillowsSF.com
Down the hill from Noe Valley at the bottom of Church Street in the Castro, you'll find the Willows Inn. But only if you know where to look. There's no sign visible from the street--a white door with the inn's name marks the entrance to this European-style, shared-bath B&B. Inside, up a long flight of steps to the small reception area, you'll see where the inn got its name: the guesthouse is full of handcrafted bentwood willow furniture.
Built as a boardinghouse in 1903, the Willows now caters to gay and lesbian travelers, but welcomes everyone. There are 12 rooms on two floors, ranging in size from a double, to a two-room suite with double- and queen-size beds. Each room has a sink, kimono bathrobes, and fine soaps and shampoo. Each floor has two water closets and two showers.
The second floor offers a small kitchen where an expanded continental breakfast is served every morning from 8 to 11 a.m. Breakfast includes baked goods, cereal, cheese, bagels, fruit, fresh-squeezed juice, coffee, and tea, and often cold cuts to accommodate the inn's European guests. Guests also receive the morning paper and can eat in the kitchen or take food to their rooms on trays. A first-floor sitting room offers guests complimentary cocktails each evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Rates are $100 to $160 per night, but you can find discounts on the Willows' web site. Rooms have cable TV/VCR, private phones, voicemail, and modem ports. Off-street parking is available for $15 per day. Sorry, no pets. h
Editor's Note: In our survey of neighborhood B&Bs, we may have missed a few. Let us know about your hideaway by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.