This post first appeared in Andi’s old blog in 2013. Hope asked how much it would cost to spend the night in San Francisco at the Palace Hotel. She was curious because Thick as Thieves mentions that Andi’s brother Justin and his fiancée, Lucy, are married in San Francisco after the book ends.
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The whole family traveled to San Francisco for Justin and Lucy’s wedding and reception. Lucy’s family is very well off. After the wedding ceremony at a huge church with lots and lots of guests in attendance, we all headed for the Palace Hotel. Our family was staying there too, rather than fill up Aunt Rebecca’s house for a few days. It’s one thing to spend Christmas at Auntie’s, and now that Kate and her children live there, it’s much too confusing (even though there is plenty of room). I’m glad we stayed at the Palace rather than Aunt Rebecca’s. For one thing, I was out from under her strict and watchful eyes.
I was pretty impressed with the Palace Hotel, and I learned a lot about it. It’s the largest hotel in the whole world (at least right now in 1881). Yes, sirree, it’s a monster, all right. It’s seven stories high with a skylight at the very top. And an elevator. That’s a little box that takes you up and down on a cable so you don’t have to climb all those stairs. I went up and down it once too often, and Mother scolded me. This is one place where I decided it might be best to act like a lady and pretend I stay at the elegant Palace Hotel every day (rather than look like the country girl I am). No sense goggling at the chandeliers and acting like a hayseed. I watch Justin and Lucy, and they act like the Palace is nothing extra special. I am trying to follow big brother’s example.
Like I mentioned, usually when we go to San Francisco, we stay with Aunt Rebecca. But it was a real treat to stay at the Palace. The hotel had only been open for six years when we went, almost spanking new. It had its grand opening in October 1875, and bigwigs from all over the state of California attended. We did not go that time. We waited until all the hubbub died down. A coach took us from the Ferry Landing straight up Market Street. There was no way to miss the hotel. It was the tallest building around. I mean, look at the picture. It’s the first thing you see from Nob Hill (or from Pacific Heights, where Aunt Rebecca lives, for that matter).
The carriage took us right into the hotel. Yep. They drove the horses into the hotel! There were rooms on the outside, with windows facing two streets, and there were rooms on the inside, around a central courtyard.
Our rooms were on the fifth floor on the inside. You could look over the railing down into the courtyard. It made me dizzy. It’s higher than any tree I’ve ever climbed. And . . . I have to say I did get lost . . . twice. But what do you expect? There are 755 rooms in that place, and over 1,200 people can stay at one time. That is the population of the entire town of Fresno. We could pack up the whole town and move in for a weekend. Some of Justin’s lawyer friends were staying at the Palace, and they posed for a picture just outside our rooms. Up on the top (seventh) floor, a number of permanent (very rich) guests live all the time. I reckon they like to live “on top of the world.”
How much did all of this cost for our whole family? Justin and Mother don’t offer such private information, but I was allowed to explore the hotel and found out the answer. It was a surprise to learn that some of the rooms are as inexpensive as a dollar a night. Other rooms are very expensive. I figured out our rooms were either four or five dollars a night. Our rooms shared a washroom (with a tub) and we also ate at the hotel. All those things add up.
Very fancy hotel. Good manners are a must. It was one of the rare times when I went to the city and really liked it. The Palace has enough excitement going on to keep a person entertained for a week at a time. And guess what? General Ulysses S. Grant visited a few years before our visit. Look how many people crowded into the hotel to welcome him as his carriage pulled into the entrance. I’m surprised nobody fell over the railing to their death.
The Palace combined with the Grand Hotel, and I found this sign in the foyer where you check in.