62. Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, California - 1915

Just before its scheduled opening in 1906, this grand dame of San Francisco hotels withstood the Great Earthquake.

Though damaged by the subsequent fire, the Fairmont reigned over the surrounding destruction like a modern-day Parthenon. One year later, reconstruction was complete, and the Fairmont’s memorable grand opening (featuring 600 pounds of turtle, 13,000 oysters, and fireworks illuminating Nob Hill and a thousand ships at anchor in the Bay) heralded the rise of San Francisco, Phoenix-like, from its ashes.

Visitors to San Francisco have only to look up in order to see the palatial Fairmont Hotel towering atop Nob Hill as it has done for over 100 years – affording its well-heeled guests astonishing views of the city below as well as fascinating glimpses into a fabled past. Here, in this sumptuous Beaux Arts-style property constructed by the architect Julia Morgan (of Hearst Castle fame), is found the Venetian Room, a swanky 400-seat supper club where, in 1962, Tony Bennett first sang his signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” In 1945, delegates assembled at the Fairmont to draft the Charter of the United Nations, and the Fairmont has been the San Francisco residence of every U.S. president since William Howard Taft.

More recently the sumptuous Fairmont became the setting for the 1980s TV series Hotel. And while today, after an $85 million renovation the hotel is completely up to date with a health spa, business center, and Internet access in all rooms, the Fairmont still retains the status of the gracious, lofty grand dame of Nob Hill.

Fairmont Hotel
950 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94108