Hotel Zoe:  Fisherman’s Wharf debut’s its Newest Gem
By Kathy Chin Leong

Call it the Fisherman’s Wharf reboot or FW 2.0.  The wharf’s newest boutique hotel, Hotel Zoe, adds another anchoring pillar to this historic district, signaling a new era.  The hotel is in keeping with other revamped aspects of Fisherman’s Wharf including the new shops and cafes at Ghirardelli Square and experiences at nearby Fort Mason and North Beach. Located in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf, it competes with a plethora of hotels all along North Point  Street. So what makes this one different? It’s a boutique hotel under the Noble House umbrella where swank shakes hands with hip on every level.  It’s got exemplary service and upbeat attitude. It’s swinging a multimillion dollar remodel and a fresh name. Formerly dubbed the Tuscan, Hotel Zoe is new and improved.  

Its focus is on the active individual and family.  People are encouraged to go outside to explore and look under the hood in this fascinating neighborhood where you can easily get to other ‘hoods on foot or via cable car or bus.  Take note of the hotel bicycles available for the guests to borrow and doodle around.  In the entry, the heart pumping beats from the piped-in music sets the tone for something cool to come. We were welcomed by enthusiastic lobby attendants who immediately offered to carry our bags, park our car, and get us checked in.  While other hotels in the wharf opt for a maritime look, Zoe verves in a different direction. No cloying sailor caps or lighthouse motifs here.  The color palette of soft grays, cream, and charcoal whispers, not shocks.

The lobby is adorned with just a few pieces of contemporary artwork.  To the right, I spied a set of wire sculptures suspended from the ceiling. Throughout the first level, groupings of chairs and couches with coffee tables serve as lovely waiting or meeting zones.  Before checkout, I needed to use my laptop, and the standup table with outlets was definitely useful. While where, another fellow used it to charge his cell phone, and another guy next to me needed to get some work done as well.

Also useful is a small coffee/cocktail bar. When you check in, guests get a free glass of wine or cocktail, which is a nice touch.  
Visual finishes like small succulents in glass bowls, circular lights in the ceiling, and fresh water to refill people’s water bottles is quite the delight. Directly to the back of the lobby is a patio featuring two comfortable seating areas and modern rectangular gas fire tables.  Backed by living ivy trellises, the patio offers a sliver of urban privacy while showcasing a jaw-dropping four-story high gigantic bronze form of a woman (I think).  In the mornings, hotel guests can come down for complimentary coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.    The restaurant Pescatore offers hearty breakfasts, and if you purchase the Wellness Package, you get a complimentary green smoothie each day of your stay.  The smoothie, with bananas and greens, is a refreshing way to start the day.

The rooms are small, but well stocked with all you need for a sleepover. We settled into Suite 401 which features a compact living room and a door that leads to the bedroom.  The living room also boasts a large flat screen TV and a small refrigerator, a couch and table. Comfy and cozy, we found it very livable and quiet.  If you have one or two very small children, they could share the couch, perhaps.  If you have a baby, then bring your portable crib and set up shop! The bedroom with a queen bed features a super-large Samsung TV right there almost at the foot of the bed. A pair of small side tables came with lamps that had useful outlets and connector for our phone and laptop cables. 
Overall we found the hotel more than capable of supporting three types of customers: couples, business workers, and families with small kids since it has casual dining and comfortable rooms.  If you have big kids, best to get a room with two queen beds or two rooms.  It does not have a microwave or a pool which would make it even better, but the urban hotel is designed for folks to emerge from their caves, for this is San Francisco, people, and there is plenty to do and see.     

Pescatore Restaurant on the first level touts pizza, pasta, seafood, and an assortment of yummy appetizers.  While located smack dab in a tourist area, it does not sacrifice on quality output. Our palettes were satiated with chunks of cut foccacia bread we dipped into housemade marinara sauce, and a trio of crab cakes drizzled with tiny greens and a lemon aioli. For our main dishes we devoured the osso bucco and the blackened ahi tuna. It is a casual place, so we were not intimated in coming in wearing jeans, and so the friendly service from our waiter Marlo was what we needed after a drive full of traffic along the way.  

The food was packed with vibrant flavor. The dishes arrived not too early not too late.  And we found that the mellow vibe was quiet enough that we were able to talk without having to shout. 

Hotel Zoe finds its distinct voice with a variety of hotel package offerings such as the Bed and Breakfast package that offers breakfast for two, and the Park On Us package that covers parking which saves anywhere from $58 to $68 per night, depending on the size of your car. We stayed under the Wellness Wanderer package that featured a water bottle upon checking, passes for green smoothies, and opportunities to take an exercise class the next day at a local facility.

I chose a barre class from Pure Barre, and it was only about a mile away in the dynamic Marina District. With a ride from Lyft, I was whisked to a 50-minute class that enabled me to try something fun and new, and isn’t that the point of vacation?  Coming back, I chose to walk, and it was a chance for me to see how truly active this city is.  The day I walked back, there were bands of bike riders, joggers of every shape and size, and dog walkers all over the hills and green areas. Along the way a fellow was waiting at the bus stop with his surf board.  In addition to that, intense race walkers were zipping by me on this overcast, but energetic day. 

The hotel, I realized, is set in an optimal location, especially if you also like shopping. Next door is a Cost Plus Imports, adjacent to an Orchard Supply Hardware, and a Ross.  Just minutes by foot is a Starbucks.  And of course, down the street is the iconic Ghiradelli Square, the waterfront with the Maritime Museum, and Pier 39 with activities for the whole family.    When you want a quick staycation, a place to walk and explore, and interior design that is modern and chic, consider Hotel Zoe. She won’t let you down.
Hotel Zoe
425 North Point Street
San Francisco
Rates: $226  and up
Parking $58 to $68

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