View of junior suite living room at San Francisco Marriott Marquis

For Marriott Hotels & Resorts, the “Marquis” designation is like MSG: an enhancement that makes the food taste better without any overt change to the overall taste. So too is the Marriott Marquis brand: it’s almost a guarantee of the “grand big city hotel” feel for a hotel brand that’s just as likely to be found near major airports or in suburbs of smaller communities.

Generally speaking, you’re still getting a Marriott Hotels experience, but at a Marriott Marquis, there are a few common elements: prime downtown real estate, distinctive architecture and a generally elevated experience.

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For lovers of the grand big city hotel, the San Francisco Marriott Marquis hits all the elements. There’s a grand lobby, multiple elevator towers, 39 floors housing nearly 1500 guest rooms and suites, many of which take advantage of the building’s distinctive fan-shaped windows, and a top-floor bar with sweeping views of the city.

The hotel opened for business on October 17, 1989, a day also memorable in San Francisco for being the day of the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Constructed with the most up-to-date earthquake-proofing technology, damage at the hotel was limited to a single window.

Today, the hotel is right in the midst of the city’s SoMa (South of Market) district, convenient to Oracle Park, Moscone Center, Union Square, Yerba Buena Gardens and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

That bar, called The View Lounge, certainly lives up to the promise of its name. Here’s where anybody can come to feel like an SF power broker, sipping cocktails from the bar or finding an intimate, hidden away seat for two to enjoy the clocktower-like views of the city while perusing the light bites menu. It was a popular hangout spot late on the Friday evening we visited, but there was still ample seating available for those wanting to soak up the energetic atmosphere.

Guests with higher-tier status in Marriott’s Bonvoy program will have access to the expansive M Lounge on the 2nd floor, which is open daily for a full hot breakfast with eggs, pastries and cheese blintzes abound. Outside of breakfast hours there’s an evening hors d’oeuvre selection with a cash bar, and 24-hour key access for snacks, coffee, soft drinks, and the customizable water dispenser (sparkling or still? Coconut-flavored or plain?). Non-elite guests can book M Lounge access room categories to gain admission.

For a property this large, the hotel’s dining and public spaces are well-proportioned. The lobby is of ample size for the number of rooms and the size of the function spaces, and the big city hotel vibe permeates throughout. Operated by Cor Health + Fitness, the workout room is also generously sized for this health-conscious city; guests can also take advantage of spa services with by appointment.

The Takeaway

Lovers of the big city brand hotel will find all their requirements handily satisfied at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, and they’ll find it right in the thick of the city’s top attractions.

The Math

I’ve seen rates from $162 per night, but the perennially in-demand San Francisco hotel scene typically drives rates higher.

Instagrammable Moment

Views from the View Lounge, or from guest rooms if you’re lucky enough to score one of the fancy windows.

Loyalty

Marriott Bonvoy

Good to Know

The hotel does not offer self-parking, only valet is available.

The hotel features smart TVs that allow guests to stream content directly from Netflix; account information is deleted at checkout.

As in most taller buildings, be careful to pick the right elevator—they don’t all stop at every floor.