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Where to stay when attending SFB performances


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#1 kbarber

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 05:21 AM

Hello SFB regulars!
I'm hoping you can advise me.
I'm planning a trip to see SFB in April and am wondering where to stay. Usually I like to stay within 5-10 minutes walking distance of the opera house whenever I go on a ballet trip. I've been checking tripadvisor and seeing some comments that suggest the area near the opera house in San Francisco may be a bit dodgy, with homeless people and druggies around. I've only been to San Francisco once and that was during the daytime. I remember the "tenderloin" was an area to avoid. I'm just wondering how safe a group of mostly older ladies would feel walking back to a hotel within a 10-minute radius of the War Memorial Opera House after an evening performance.
If you wouldn't advise staying near the Opera House, what area would you recommend, and how would one get to and from the performances?
Thank you for your input!

#2 California

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 06:27 AM

You are right about the questionable environs, especially after dark. The city buses don't run very often late in the evening, so they're not a great option either. I recommend you take a cab back to your hotel. This can be as little as $5-10 and is worth it. I like this site for finding out ahead of time what fare to expect:
http://www.taxifarefinder.com/

On the south side of the Opera House, there is a circle drive where the cabs pull up. Stop on your way into the theater and let the concierge know you will need a cab after the performance. He keeps a list and you won't have much of a wait.

For travel during the day, including the trip to the Opera House, I'd strongly recommend buying a Muni Passport, which gives you unlimited rides on the buses, Muni (light rail trains), and cablecars. It's a great deal:
http://www.sfmta.com...s/passports.htm

#3 PeggyR

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 06:43 AM

Hi Kbarber: Welcome to San Francisco.

Even though I only live 60 miles away, when I go to a night performance I’m uncomfortable driving that distance at night , so I stay in the city. Here are the two where I’ve stayed:

The Opal: Reasonably priced for SF, about a 15-20 minute walk up Van Ness, should be OK at night in a group, or you could order a cab from the man in the WMOH lobby. It’s standard issue, bland, a bit of noise (lots of families). I hate it.

The Hayes Valley Inn: This is my home away from home. Two and a half blocks from the WMOH in très trendy Hayes Valley. It’s a quirky, pension-style, family-owned hotel, very reasonably priced (very, very for SF), miniscule but charming rooms, elderly tvs. The downside (for some ; doesn’t bother me) is that the toilets and showers are down the hall (each room has a sink and GFI outlet). The facilities are spotlessly clean and I’ve never had to wait when I wanted/needed either, but it is a drawback for some. Also to keep in mind - no elevators. It’s an old Victorian building, the stairs are narrow and you have to haul your luggage up. There’s a little kitchen for making tea and a sitting room where you can chill with a book. You can’t beat the price/location (takes me less than five minutes to walk there after the ballet and the area is perfectly OK ; plenty of traffic and several nightspots with lots of activity, so you’re never walking alone, even late). Convenient to public transit. In that area, though, if you venture out during the day, do be careful where you go. It’s OK in the immediate area, but check with the people at the desk before venturing too far. They are very helpful and friendly and more than willing to provide advice. In sum, it’s the kind of place where you just have to go with the flow. Love it.

I know others on this board come in from out of town, so undoubtedly you will get plenty of ideas. And don't forget to tell us about your trip.

#4 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:33 AM

Just as a note: a walk up Van Ness is a walk up a hill. I think it looks more formidable than it feels, especially since the Opal isn't that far up, and the grade looks deceptive steep.

While the area towards the BART station does have lots of homeless people around, there are usually so many people heading to the station after the performance that there is safety in numbers.

The best place I've ever stayed is Inn at the Opera, which is about a block directly behind War Memorial. It's very convenient, the only thing you have to worry about is watching out for the cars coming out of a nearby parking lot, and there are a number of restaurants and bars within a few block radius, if you want to get a snack after the show, but want to feel safe walking a few blocks back to the hotel. Since it's part of the Shell Hospitality scheme, with some rooms open to the public -- best available during the winter and spring -- the rooms have microwaves and small fridges.

Otherwise, you have so many options if you're willing to split a taxi. I'm not sure if this is true for the ballet, but for the opera, you used to go to the left side of the lobby (walking into the building) past coat check and sign up for a taxi ahead of time. Then you head to the same place after the performance, and there's a rank waiting, pre-arranged by the house.

I'd suggest the Archbishop's Mansion if you're only going to be around for a short visit and are willing to take a taxi home. It's also in the direction opposite of City Hall, only about a 10-15-minute walk, but it's a deserted walk that I don't like taking alone at night, although it is fine during the day. The building is very interesting and unusual. I'd stay there again in a minute if I were traveling with someone or meeting a local with a car.

Another option if you don't mind taking the bus over and a taxi back is Union Square, which, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be a category on Trip Advisor. There are restaurants everywhere and a gazillion people around no matter what the hour. Getting there is, at worst, a few block downhill walk, a crosstown bus, and then another, short downhill walk. (Unfortunately, bus service is spotty for the return trip, and a taxi split a few ways is a much better option.) There are a number of good hotels in the area -- I got a great deal from Expedia one year at The Orchard, and this past June stayed at Cornell Hotel de France, which I liked very much.

I usually check for availability and price out Inn at the Opera, and then go to Expedia to see what's going at a good rate. Then I read reviews to find clean and no comments that the walls are paper-thin and make a decision.

#5 pherank

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:35 AM

If you wouldn't advise staying near the Opera House, what area would you recommend, and how would one get to and from the performances?
Thank you for your input!


I've lived in SF and just north of SF for many years, so I can definitely say that it is best to just take a taxi from the hotel/motel/B&B, and then after the performance, wait in the taxi line at the War Memorial, and chat with others about the performance.

As you are "mostly older ladies", then it is best not to try to hoof it around the city center. SF isn't really a walkers city, in my opinion. Though I certainly did a whole lot of walking on those hills and city streets back in the day. But it is exhausting (and who wants to be covered in perspiration at the War Memorial?). I used to have to hurredly walk a block from a parking structure to 1 Market Street where the work office was, and one can work up a sweat that way. And it was just the one city block!

I HAVE stayed at the Kabuki Hotel at Japantown and taken a taxi from there to the War Memorial - it is considered a short distance from Japantown, and the driver charged a flat fee for the imposition, but to actually walk the distance would have been a bummer - especially on the return late at night.

Which program will you be attending?

#6 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:37 AM

I've stayed at the Kabuki Hotel, too. I didn't love the walk back alone, because there weren't many people around between Van Ness and the hotel, but it was doable in ~20 minutes.

#7 pherank

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 12:14 PM

I've stayed at the Kabuki Hotel, too. I didn't love the walk back alone, because there weren't many people around between Van Ness and the hotel, but it was doable in ~20 minutes.


I stayed at the Kabuki because I used to go to Japantown a lot, as I like Japanese arts and crafts. I love the Kinokuniya Bookstore, and Genjii Antiques too when it was still in business. The Kaubki is fairly cheap by SF standards, and it has room service for those in a hurry. Not bad at all (as they've recently remodeled rooms), but not great either. For that you've got to pay another $75 or more a night.

I recommend using a service like Orbitz to find a deal:
http://www.orbitz.co...ancisco.hd4468/

#8 ksk04

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 03:40 PM

Fortunately/unfortunately I usually am staying with friends/relatives when I'm in SF, but I second whomever said not to rely on MUNI after an evening performance. I've been "stranded" before, and since we didn't sign up for a cab at intermission had a heck of a time trying to hail one in the surrounding area since they are all headed to the cab line (think we ended up walking the whole way home in frustration, which was not ideal). During the day though it's a breeze, and taking Bart/MUNI in and a (pre planned) taxi out is a very, very easy option if no hotels in the area work for you.

If you do end up staying in the surrounding area of the Opera House, plan one of your meals at Brenda's...it's fantastic!


And, if you've never been to the Opera House I would strongly suggest avoiding the back section of the orchestra unless you're on an end. I have never been able to see over the heads of people in front of me.

#9 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 04:08 PM

Another option is VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner), which lists apartments that people rent out by the night or week. Some have two-night minimums. Friends used it last Spring when they visited to see the SFO Ring.

I'm glad to hear it confirmed that the taxi sign-up is for the ballet, too.

#10 California

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 04:34 PM

The Museum of Performance and Design is worth a visit. It's just one block to the north of the Opera House on Van Ness. Hours are very limited, but they have some interesting displays.

http://www.mpdsf.org/

#11 California

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 04:45 PM

And, if you've never been to the Opera House I would strongly suggest avoiding the back section of the orchestra unless you're on an end. I have never been able to see over the heads of people in front of me.


I avoid the entire Orchestra section. The seats seem old with worn springs, so you sink way down into the seat - a big problem for short people! If you can swing it, aim for the Grand Tier or Balcony Circle. The front rows of the Dress Circle are also good. Here's a seating chart:
http://sfwmpac.org/o...h_seatchart.pdf

#12 kbarber

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 06:30 PM


And, if you've never been to the Opera House I would strongly suggest avoiding the back section of the orchestra unless you're on an end. I have never been able to see over the heads of people in front of me.


I avoid the entire Orchestra section. The seats seem old with worn springs, so you sink way down into the seat - a big problem for short people! If you can swing it, aim for the Grand Tier or Balcony Circle. The front rows of the Dress Circle are also good. Here's a seating chart:
http://sfwmpac.org/o...h_seatchart.pdf


Thank you everyone for your very helpful advice. As for seating, what they currently have available for the performances I'm interested in are rows F-G of the orchestra for one performance and row M back for the other (the two mixed programs in April), or if I don't take orchestra I'd have to go for row C of the Grand Tier. Normally I prefer sitting closer than further away. What do you all think about the orchestra seats that are available?
Also Helene, thanks for the info about Inn at the Opera, which I had been looking at already as it seems it's about 3 minutes walk from the opera house so it seems unlikely something untoward could happen in that space of time and distance, correct?

#13 ksk04

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 09:21 PM

The problem is the orchestra has almost no rake and the seats are not spaced unevenly (to prevent someone's head right in front of you)--coupled with the crummy seats that California describes, the orchestra is problematic if you are shorter, or have a short torso (like me!). Last time I ended up standing, though an usher did offer to find me another seat when I mentioned the problem, because otherwise I was just sitting and listening to music (though I've also sat and not been too bothered). Obviously people sit there all the time, but I agree that a little bit further back and higher would be my ideal in this particular auditorium (and I usually prefer watching from closer/in the orch as well). But take a look at some photos of the interior and make your own decision!

#14 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:33 PM

To get to Inn at the Opera, you go through the exits on the North side (to the left of the front entrance), pass the stage door to your left, where there will be lots of people after the show, and walk about a block to the Inn. Those streets are well lit, and there's a very busy parking garage right before the Inn. I've never seen a panhandler on those blocks after the show: there's enough foot traffic, but not enough to distract them from the City Hall/BART area our the front door, where the odds are much better. It's when you're a few blocks past the Inn (if you kept walking) that things are quiet and feel deserted, which, if I were with someone else, wouldn't be an issue for me. There's also a fancy restaurant in the Inn, so that there are people around finishing late meals.

They have a very nice continental breakfast in the mornings, which is usually included, except for a tip for the wait staff.

They usually have a two-day minimum, and the last few times I've been down, it's been for an overnight, and I didn't qualify for a room. It's the first place I look, though, because it's so convenient after the show.

#15 kbarber

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 07:57 AM

A friend just emailed me this:
I stayed downtown San Fran, at the Whitcomb Hotel as it was walking distance to the Opera House. Every San Fran native said to stay by Fisherman’s Wharf. I personally wouldn’t stay downtown again. There are a lot of mental health patients out in the day and they do drugs and smoke up right on the grass in front of the government buildings. I am used to this sort of stuff growing up downtown Toronto, but the difference is they are so high they will come so close to you to talk as they have no conception of personal space. On a good note, at night the police is out in full force and there are no homeless people or druggies out, but by the morning they are all there again – it was the oddest thing!

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