Perched atop tony Nob Hill, San Francisco’s Scarlet Huntington Hotel, a landmark building since it was constructed in 1924, reopened in May after a short closing with a new name and a colorful contemporary design. The $15 million renovation seems aimed at attracting a new generation of global travelers who prefer sexy, style-driven boutique hotels over classical grande dames.
Singapore-based Grace International, which acquired the Huntington Hotel in 2011, tapped San Francisco architecture and design firm Forrest Perkins to transform the interior spaces with a vibrant palette of scarlet, purple, gold, chartreuse, and black paired with a mix of patterns and textures. A cabinet in the lobby displays an array of colorful Peranakan ceramics that inspired the design concept. The Peranakan are descendants of Chinese traders who settled in Malaysia and Indonesia as early as the 14th century and migrated to Singapore in the 19th century, where they remain a vibrant hybrid culture known for their brightly colored and ornate ceramics and fashions. Grace International’s original Scarlet property in Singapore exudes a similarly vivacious style.
Despite the infusion of modern Asian-flavored design, traditionalists will be pleased to see the hotel’s signature red brick façade, illuminated sign, and period character have been preserved—from its hand-carved wooden entry door to the decorative wrought iron and plaster work to the old mail chute, which is still in use. An original chandelier hangs over the bright red seating centerpiece in the lobby, blending old and new.
Originally built as an apartment building, the Scarlet Huntington’s 134 rooms and suites (from $459 per night) are surprisingly spacious for a city hotel. The one-bedroom suites, for example, span more than 700 square feet and include separate living and dining spaces. Among them are three signature suites with thematic designs, such as the Mulholland Suite, appointed with Mulholland leather and a neutral color scheme that conveys a Northern California vibe. Meanwhile, the Opulent and Passion suites channel the brand’s Singapore Straits Chinese heritage with gilding, black lacquer, and intense colors.
But rather than modernize the hotel’s traditional Big 4 restaurant, named for the railroad barons who once lived in the neighborhood, Grace decided to preserve its old-timey, clubby ambience for a taste of old San Francisco. Much like the décor, which has been subtly freshened, the restaurant’s new Executive Chef, Kevin Scott, brings a lighter, more modern touch to the menu’s popular American classics with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients. “It’s such an old iconic American thing,” says Scott. “But we’re in San Francisco, and the city is a bounty of wonderful ingredients. I think we can keep the classics classic, but also update them with the seasons.”
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San Francisco"s Historic Scarlet Huntington Hotel Debuts A Bold New Look