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In my past travels to San Francisco, I’ve never been to the Japantown section of the city. The redesign of the Kimpton Hotel Tomo lured me to try a new hotel and an area I wouldn’t have thought of exploring previously. As you walk around, the two- and three-story buildings are a world away from the skyscrapers less than a mile away in the heart of San Francisco.
Where is the Kimpton Hotel Tomo located?
If you’re looking for the action and hustle of San Francisco, this hotel is probably not for you. If you love Japanese food and culture, the Hotel Tomo is perfect. Personally, I enjoy trying out new hotels and expanding my horizons, and if that means I have to walk a bit, I don’t see it as a problem. That said, I do have a finance conference for work in the morning, so I’ll be taking an Uber ride to the host hotel, rather than walking to save on time.
It is a fun experience to get a sneak peak of the Kimpton Hotel Tomo in San Francisco. The Main floor and lobby are still under repair, but the rooms are looking nice.
Kimpton Hotel Tomo renovation
The hotel was undergoing renovations when I arrived. The normal entrance to the lobby was closed, so you had to walk around and enter through the parking garage. The lobby was reduced to an approximate 200 sq ft space… just big enough for a welcome counter, a few guests, and the standard Kimpton dog dish welcoming furry friends.
Walking down the hallway to my room, you can smell the construction going on. I think it is the all-too-familiar smell (to me anyways) of spackle and paint. I couldn’t fault the Hotel Tomo though, since it was I that was intruding on their construction project and trying to experience the hotel before it was ready for its grand re-opening.
The Hotel Tomo had a grand re-opening on June 22, 2015 and is now called The Buchanan.
My room at the Kimpton Hotel Tomo
Inside the room, you can sense the Japanese influence of the neighborhood in the design. The accommodations are minimalist, yet effective. The room was actually very large for San Francisco. I’ve stayed in rooms that were less than half its size.
A couple of complaints though, the chairs are attractive, but uncomfortable more than a few minutes at a time. They are leather, so maybe with more use, they will become more comfortable over time. And the mini-bar needs to have a handle on the door. I tried to open it, buts it’s edges are flush, so I had to try to use the key inside the lock to pull out the door. After about 5 minutes of trying, it finally opened.
Extra goodies at Kimpton Hotel Tomo
As a thank you to my Kimpton Karma loyalty, some special gifts were waiting for me from Emily, the General Manager. She had emailed me ahead of time to remind me that the Hotel Tomo was undergoing a remodel – it’s nice to have those personal touches.
On the table were some of my favorites, yogurt covered pretzels, several varieties of Reese’s, and a bottle of Glaceau smartwater. Hmmm, usually there are some ice-cold beers waiting for me. Emily thinks of everything. Although the normal mini-bar and snack set-up was not there, she put the mini-fridge to good use to keep two local micro-brews from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers cold for me. It was a pleasure to try the Prohibition amber ale and the Tallulah extra pale ale!
In the evening, the Kimpton Wine Hour provides your choice of red or white wines from 5p to 6p. Since the Hotel Tomo is undergoing renovation, the Wine Hour was located next door at the restaurant. When I arrived, I sat the bar and they poured my first glass of wine, then pretty much ignored me the rest of the time. I somehow managed to get the servers attention to ask for another glass, but the second glass never showed up. I’m sure that, when the Hotel Tomo’s renovation is complete, the Wine Hour will move back to the hotel’s lobby and the great service from Kimpton will be there.
During the renovation, the on-site gym was closed, so the hotel staff offered free passes to the 24 Hour Fitness that is a couple of blocks away. I like working out while on vacation so that I can keep working towards my fitness goals (and still eat pizza and drink beer without too much guilt), but I’m not motivated enough to walk a few blocks to find a gym. Instead, I just walked several miles a day while in San Fran… the hills are a workout all by themselves!
I enjoyed my stay at the Hotel Tomo. I think this property fits a more specific guest than many of the hotels in the heart of San Francisco. However, the price you pay reflects that the property is a bit off the beaten path from a “normal” visit to San Francisco. If you are a little adventurous, I recommend you give it a try. Emily and her team will certainly make you feel very welcome!