January 27, 2010

In Search of a “Mindful” Hotel in San Francisco.

the "Good" Hotel @ night

Traveling, especially these days, is not the embodiment of ease.  In fact, it’s the opposite, as I’m sure you will agree.

And though I’m looking forward to sampling the offerings this weekend at the  Yoga Journal Conference in San Francisco, seeing a few good yoga peeps (including fellow ele-fans); and hopefully catching some California waves with my husband and ocean/surf-worshipping yogi Eoin, I am trying to stay as detached as possible about the journeying there.

Yes, travel is always a good test, of finding that still point.  You found that focused ease in your standing big toe pose last night, perfect, now seek it here, in the full body scanorama and intermittently moving lines in the never-ending security check.  Oh ya, and don’t forget to smile – it makes it easier when your facial muscles are relaxed – see it’s just like yoga.

Add to that the perplexing question: where should we rest our heads and spend our $?  (This of course, is barring you don’t have friends whom you can stay with, or perhaps you may crave some anonymity in a town that is not your home).   What hotel, or b+b or vacation rental offers just the right mix of un-stuffiness, coolness yet not cold-ness, modern hipsterness without attitude and at least some sort of an eco sensibility that extends beyond reusing towels (which is great, but there’s more to look at).

My list includes does the hotel recycle? – (common but always good to ask); use natural or organic cotton bedding (quite uncommon); use energy efficient lighting or lo-flo toilets.  There are also some eco-social considerations: how integrated is it into a neighbourhood – does it support local cafes / restaurants etc?  And how close is it to public transit or do they offer bicycle rentals perhaps?

I scoured the well-edited list at Tablet Hotels and discovered the curious yet aptly named Good Hotel in San Fran’s SOMA area.  Why so apt?  As Tablet points out, “That’s “good” as a noun, not an adjective. San Francisco’s Good Hotel is less about being a good hotel—it certainly is that, in its unassuming way—and more about doing good.”

With a location that’s definitely off the beaten tourist track, yet close enough to bus and trams, rooms that look like super-eco, reclaimed / recycled versions of the homes features on Dwell magazine’s FSC certified, modern pages; i-pod docking stations to broadcast your favourite playlists, eco-mod furniture, free wi-fi, and free parking for hybrid cars, the hotel; one of the many unique properties of local San Francisco based chain of Joie de Vivre Hotels, which has taken over various old, derelict properties and given them new life and style; seems like its crafted for eco-hipster, urban nomads without large pocketbooks – the rooms while being close enough to the city, do not cost an arm or a leg.

Add in the front desk’s “philantropy” concierge, who will help you find last minute volunteering opportunities in the Bay Area, free bicycles that get you around town using your eco-friendly pedal power – that we will use to get to the YJ conference; and an emphasis on reuse, recyle and refashion, this hotel seems like it fits right in with Elephant sensibilities: style and eco-living without a sky-high price tag.

The Lobby
i love these “lobby clocks”
a typical double bed room
MAC heaven, the biz centre

By next week, we’ll let you know if our Good Hotel experience is truly Good.

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