Hotel Whitcomb San Francisco Ca.
Accessibility score: 3/5 – average
In late January 2020, my guide dog Fauna and I traveled to San Francisco for the opening of my Landscapes of the Body photography project at the Lighthouse for the Blind gallery. I stayed at the Hotel Whitcomb which is located on Market St. in downtown about a block from the Lighthouse for the Blind. This trip was before the new COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.
Traveling to Hotel Whitcomb
I spoke with the front desk at Hotel Whitcomb before my trip and they recommended taking Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to the hotel from the airport. I figured this was going to be quite a bit more work but I gave it a shot. After landing in SFO, I got directions to baggage claim and from there quickly found an airport staff member to point me in the direction of the BART station (which is located at the airport). I had no problem locating the BART station and asked for assistance getting a ticket to Market St. The BART attendant was very helpful even telling me how many stops to expect so I could get off at the proper stop. The Market St. station is about half a block from Hotel Whitcomb and the whole process of getting to the hotel from the airport was painless and easy.
As you wander down Market street from the BART station, the hotel is located on the left, and was easily located. Entering the lobby you find the elevators right inside the door and just a little ways past them is the check in desk on the left as you walk in the lobby. Directly across from the check in desk is a small bar with some really great drinks and an incredibly friendly bar staff. I was at the hotel for two nights, and during check in I asked about a good place to relieve my guide dog. The hotel staff seemed a bit confused and I was directed to head to the back of the main floor where the parking attendant is located. From there, I was directed to an alley with large dumpsters – more on this later in the review.
Locating my room
The elevators were well marked, there was no automated announcement for which floor you were on, but that is easily resolved by counting the floors. Most of the time there will be someone from the hotel standing in the front of the elevators directing traffic and keeping non-guests out of the property. The hotel is an older property, and all the hallways look the same, clean but very dark with few unique landmarks. The room numbers were well marked with braille and relatively easy to find. The rooms were clean and in good repair considering this is an older hotel. The bed was comfortable, and the only downside I found was that the rooms overlook Market St which means there is constant noise from people and traffic. The windows are somewhat noise proofed, but those with sensitive ears will likely find the noise their biggest complaint. This is part of staying in any large city downtown though, so I was not surprised at all. The guest information guide is not available in large print or in braille. Since this is a downtown hotel, there is no facilities for pool or hot tub which I found disappointing.
Dog relieving area
I was disappointed that the staff was woefully unaware of the needs of someone traveling with a service dog. It seemed as though they don’t get a lot of service animals, so perhaps some training for the staff would be prudent to ensure future guest’s visits go smoother. The alley where I was asked to relieve my guide was where the hotel keeps their dumpsters. Traffic was light (I only saw a couple cars drive near during my stay), but the security for the hotel next door seemed to revel in the challenge of giving me a hard time each time I took my dog out to relieve. The security yelled at me each time telling me that was their alley and I was not allowed to relieve my dog there. This is not Hotel Whitcomb’s fault, but it was disappointing.
There is no grass available, nearby or in the alley (not a surprise since this is a downtown location.). Be sure that your guide is comfortable relieving on concrete. There was one garbage can for waste disposal located to the right of the door before you enter the hotel from the parking attendant area. Overall it wasn’t too bad of an experience other than the hotel security from next door harassing us every time we were out there. I honestly found it a bit childish and intolerant of guests with disabilities.
The hotel would be easily navigated by a wheelchair-using guest. There is an easy sloped ramp that comes up to the main floor from the parking attendant area, and once you are in the lobby, the hotel exits out onto Market St. with no ramps or stairsd. I was not in a mobility-impaired accessible room, so I can only speak for the areas I experienced. In the normal bathrooms, there were no grab bars or shower bars for safety, again likely due to the age of the property. Access to the bar and other areas on the main floor appeared as though they would be comfortably navigated with a wheelchair or other mobility aid.
Hotel Whitcomb is an older property with all the problems that come with an older hotel. It is noisy because it is located downtown and the hotel just has that old feel to it. The rooms were comfortable, and the staff was friendly and accommodating. I would recommend additional training for the staff when it comes to interactions with a service animal using guest, but overall, I found the experience enjoyable. To be clear, the staff was never rude or disrespectful in any way, but they were ill-informed about the needs of a guest with a service animal.