we enjoy those “most romantic places” lists that usually appear at year-end – they just make us want to explore new cultures on every continent.
we were happy to see travel+leisure magazine include one of our most romantic places, the golden gate bridge, in its list of “top 10 new america landmarks”.
cavallo point offers the best vantage point for the “g-g”, as some locals call it.
this is pure luxury, so definitely a special occasion spot for many travelers.
yet locals keep the farley bar busy in all seasons. it’s free for locals on mondays, and live music keeps the happy hour crowd busy most nights. original ‘farley panels’ by the late san francisco artist phil frank, for whom the bar is named, are also a big draw.
everywhere we wandered, from the in-house art gallery to waterfront hiking trails, we met locals and international guests.
why is cavallo point so popular?
location, location, location.
it’s part of the national parks system — the 75,000-acre golden gate national recreation area.
there is no other hotel in san francisco so close to the golden gate bridge as cavallo point.
it was so exciting to see the bridge at night, in the fog, in daylight, that we left our drapes open for our entire stay. (we were discreet: there were construction workers near our windows from early morning ’til dusk.)
cavallo is also popular because of history: it’s one of the few national park hotels to add elegance and modern luxury to 1800s buildings. it’s a highlight of the golden gate recreation area.
it’s part of fort baker, the u.s. army post established in 1897 for troops defending america’s west coast.
guests can stay in renovated officers’ houses, if they want more space and simple luxury.
or there are low-rise, ultra-modern suites on the hill behind the centuries-old barracks and other military buildings.
both have fireplaces, which is welcome in san francisco’s cool summers and temperate winters. while the houses have open lawns, some of the suites have private decks and balconies.
we stayed in the contemporary suites, for an incomparable view of the bridge. on a hillside above the family-sized officers’ houses, these suites are also more romantic and secluded for couples.
we didn’t have a balcony, but the ceiling-to-floor windows and big windowseat with comfy pillows were very private.
the farley bar was good; the restaurant, murray circle, was great (best halibut we’ve had anywhere); and the service, everywhere, exceptional.
you can dine outdoors, on a private patio or old-fashioned verandah with heat lamps, or indoors, among historic photos, original wooden floors and beams, and fireplaces everywhere (the barracks were cold in the 1800s and early 1900s.)
it was all the intangible stuff that made our stay so memorable:
✓ the seclusion
✓ the quiet (no cars allowed on property, except to park)
✓ the history
✓ that eucalyptus fragrance, every moment outdoors
✓ the guarantee of relaxation (starting with free yoga every morning); and
✓ the views, the views, the views.
we saw red-tailed hawks swooping over the hotel grounds, and pelicans and seals only a few minutes’ walk from our room.
there are well-marked trails, from the waterfront to the fort baker “parade ground walk” at the center of the horseshoe-shaped hotel property.
you can walk safely for hours under the bridge, over the bridge, and across the bridge. you can watch marine traffic, from kayaks to giant ocean freighters. you can walk for hours around the marin headlands, or take a bike from the hotel and explore nearby sausalito. (there are hills for the latter, so this isn’t as accessible as paved trails closer to the hotel.)
and, if you’re feeling rich, rent a yacht to see the san francisco bay in style.
sit for awhile with chef concierge Nancy DuBois, and she’ll suggest a long list of possibilities, from kayaking to sailing. Nancy is precious in american hospitality: an esteemed member of les clefs d’or.
this is such a prestigious group, there are only 3,518 members in 42 destinations in the world.
TOMORROW: The spine-chilling cry at Cavallo Point that we’ve never heard anywhere, and some of Nancy’s private, romantic schemes