Joie de Vivre

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An eclectic atmosphere, international ambience, eco-friendly attitude and outstanding service culture put a fun and unique twist on our 161-room hotel located in Lower Nob Hill, near Civic Center.

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Our Story



Hotel Carlton History

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.

The Structure Itself

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.

International Style

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.

Preserving Our Environment

Hotel Carlton strives to incorporate sustainability into our core business operations. Specifically, we use the following policies and practices:

  1. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - We strive to increase waste diversion by recycling all paper, bottles, and cans and composting all food and landscape waste. We reduce the waste generated by donating reusable items (furniture, stationery) to charitable organizations. 
  2. Purchase environmentally friendly products - We minimize the use of toxic materials to protect employee and guest health and the environment. We use copy paper with at minimum 30% recycled content, toilet and facial tissue with 100% recycled content, products with least packaging (no plastic, styrofoam, aerosol packaging), and Energy Star rated appliances and office equipment.
  3. Conserve energy, water and natural resources – All water fixtures in the hotel are low-flow including toilets, urinals, showerheads and sink faucets. All light bulbs in the hotel are energy efficient. We conserve fossil fuels by promoting the use of public transit, participating in spare the air campaigns, and offsetting the total carbon footprint of the hotel with our partner
  4. Generate clean energy through on-site solar production - The hotel has solar panels on the roof that provide 8-10% of the total electrical load for the building.