The era of Art Nouveau and all the joie de vivre it represents is the M.O. at Galleria Park Hotel
Let’s take a mini-gamble and bet that no one who wanders into the two-level lobby of the Galleria Park Hotel misses the fireplace: The mammoth silver number is all French curves, dominating many a conversation when guests mingle at wine hour. That statement piece may not have been at the hotel when Mark Twain passed through at the turn of the last century, but, nonetheless, he did declare the previous incarnation “heaven on a half-shell.”
It kind of still is. The brick building has a poof of open-space greenery with walking paths, a tiny bar nook with hand-painted tiles, high-ceiling guest rooms, and patterns that recall the romantic pre-war period of the teens. Plus, city treasures are scattered in all directions from the 1911 building. West is Union Square and brand-name shopping; north, Chinatown and bakeries selling dim sum; south is hip, techy SoMa; and east brings you to the walking and jogging paradise of the Embarcadero.
But real (briny) half-shells are orderable just next door at Gaspar, a brassiere that feels like the clock stopped ticking a century ago, complete with vintage lighting, faded leather seating, and a whopping 14 chandeliers. While you can dine on escargot and entrecôte upstairs, the downstairs is more relaxed—le burger?—and specializes in Champagne cocktails. What’s a half-dozen shells without the pearls?
Exiting from Art Nouveau is such a drag, but the best of the 21st century is this: You can text guest services with your request. “Pls 1 doz oysters to #819 at 7. Thx.”