san francisco, CA
February 28, 2016
The Palace Hotel opened its doors in 1875-- yes, EIGHTEEN. It was the brainchild of William Chapman Ralston, a shipping magnate and Bank of California President, who modeled the hotel after his massive home, Ralston Hall, which was actually his summer residence. And his (shady) business partner, U.S. Senator William Sharon.
Four years before his tragic death, Ralston began bankrolling the Palace Hotel, using the architect who designed his home. Two months after his death, it opened with much fan fare and was considered a symbol of the City's "world class elegance". The hotel had 755 guest rooms, each with its own bathroom, which was a really big deal.
All was well-- and so fancy— until the earthquake of 1906, which pretty much ruined most of San Francisco. It wasn't the shaking that ruined the Palace, rather the raging fires across the city that after three days caught up with the hotel, and within hours reduced it to a burnt out shell.
The original Palace Hotel was razed and in 1909, a new one-- the current one-- opened. It was more simple on the outside, according to reports, but equally as grand on the inside. Among the hotel's most famous guests, have been several presidents, including Warren G. Harding, who died there.
The hotel closed for a a $150 million renovation in the late 80s, which restored the hotel to its original... okay, it's 1909 glory. It was renovated again in 2015, which is brings us to the current-- and gorgeous) reiteration of the Grand Court (below):
These crystal chandeliers are everything.
And also the lobby, which you can see from the Palm Court entry/exit:
And because while the building may be smaller, it is still large on details. Get into this gilded awesomeness at the exit:
Images provided by Demetria Lucas D'Oyley. All rights reserved.