The year was 1927. Hotel Carlton’s construction was complete, the era of gas lamps was coming to a close, and the much-anticipated grand opening of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway 101 was being celebrated. Finally, San Francisco would be connected to the northern counties, including Marin and the Wine Country. Prohibition was in effect and the Bay Area was the only region in the United States that could legally produce alcoholic beverages, due to the uninterrupted needs of America’s Catholic Churches. So it can be said that the Hotel Carlton’s grand opening as a speakeasy was no accident. In fact, it was carefully integrated into the original building plans. Even today, Hotel Carlton still holds reminders of its past life. Take a look at the two mysterious brass utility hole covers located near the main pillars on either side of the hotel lobby - at one time alcohol was evacuated through these holes during police raids.
Hotel Carlton was constructed on the tip of one of San Francisco’s few chunks of bedrock. The hotel was designed as one of the nation’s very first buildings specifically constructed to withstand earthquakes. This proved to be beneficial in 1989 immediately after the big 7.1 earthquake. Hotel Carlton ended up with just one broken window along with some very superficial plaster cracks. As tourists began leaving other parts of the city, our hotel remained as one of the few in Northern California that continued to be fully occupied. The quake inspectors and engineers traveling to the city from around the world to assess the damage chose to stay at the Hotel Carlton. During their stay, they discovered the basement level was cleverly constructed of a reinforced steel “cage” on top of which the rest of the building’s concrete structure was erected. The engineers revealed this flexible steel base is what allowed the Hotel Carlton to withstand such a significant seismic event.
Hotel Carlton’s décor is inspired by travels from around the world, in particular Nepal, India and Morocco. Each guestroom features artwork depicting exquisitely detailed wall paintings from Fifteenth Century temples in Upper Mustang, Nepal. Hand-painted side tables from Morocco grace each guestroom bringing a cheerful bright accent. The lobby is reminiscent of a cozy living room with a roaring fireplace, beautiful Indian accent rugs, and comfortable sofas and armchairs. The hotel’s elevators are unique in that the walls are covered with maps of the world, travel photos and souvenirs.
Hotel Carlton strives to incorporate sustainability into our core business operations. Specifically, we use the following policies and practices: