This week I’m in San Francisco. It’s a work trip, visiting companies that want to know more about Windows Vista and Office 2007. Today, the big question, “When will Windows Vista ship?” I advised betting against January 2007.
Anyway, my posh hotel sucks. I had a heck of a time finding a place in downtown San Francisco with rooms available for all three days of my business trip. I scoured online services like Expedia and Hotels.com and then directly called Marriott and Starwood, for which I am members of their “rewards” programs. Based on a Marriott recommendation, I ended up at the Monaco, a Kimpton hotel that is a few blocks off Union Square—for $300 a night! Geez.
After check-in, I arrived on the seventh floor to a strange odor. In my room, I realized it was cigarette smell. So, I called down to the front desk and innocently asked, “Is this a smoking room?” Of course! Before the Monaco, another Kimpton Hotel had an available room, but only smoking—and that’s how I ended up at the Monaco.
Anyway, someone at the front desk moved me to a non-smoking room with, get this, a canopy bed! The room was tiny, but with great decor. Bwhahahaha.
The neighborhood around the Monaco, located at the corner of Geary and Taylor streets, is something else. The feeling is like going to some inner circle of hell, rather than to the inner city. The area, rife with massage parlors and XXX video stores, reminds me of parts of Manhattan, circa 1980. New York changed, but apparently not San Francisco.
But the dark feeling is more than about smut places. There is a general ambiance, in the way people dress or general appearance of the stores, that evokes a kind of darkness. I don’t say darkness to suggest evil, but a kind of heaviness. The spirit of the neighborhood greatly disturbs me. Interestingly, the dark ambience increases going up Geary street and decreases going down to Union Square.