A Photographer’s Delight

The Tenderloin neighborhood and the rock ‘n’ roll Phoenix Hotel attract a paparazzi.  

The Phoenix Hotel has history—not of the Al Capone or George Washington variety. But midcentury-to-now rock ‘n’ roll. Crooner Brenda Lee started the trend. Since then, it’s been a steady stream of music-playing good times: David Bowie, R.E.M., Nirvana, and Norah Jones.

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That said, they aren’t the most photographed. The paparazzi aren’t those skulking, stalking professionals. They are Instagramming overnighters and those locals who are lounging at poolside Chambers Eat + Drink . Their target? The psychedelic-Zen life-sized frog statue near the pool.

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Like the Eros of London’s Piccadilly or Hachiko (the dog) statue in Tokyo’s Shibuya—or even the Hollywood sign—it’s a part of local lore. It used to get all the attention until local artist Zio Ziegler tattooed the exterior of the Tenderloin-located motor lodge that was at once point a former flophouse. The neighborhood is gritty—and musicians like that.

Everyone flocks here for the anonymity, the history, and the comfort of the rooms. The management knows their guest. The in-room book has no less than a dozen places to buy guitars or get them fixed, as well as a long list of the art galleries that are popping up in the area.

The attached Chambers has a vinyl collection that numbers in the thousands and a very delicious cocktail list that includes a nectarine-infused Rye concoction. The biggest deal around? Free parking. In downtown San Francisco, where daily garage rates can claim half a Benjamin, this is a small luxury. Rockstar parking, indeed.

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