The Lodge at the Presidio: Family-Friendly Inside and Out
By Kathy Chin Leong
Monopoly in the great room. Snacks in the cupboards. Sleeper sofas in the suites. The Lodge at the Presidio is as kid-friendly as you can get in San Francisco, and yet, sophisticated enough for Mom and Dad. Located within the Presidio national park, the 42-room inn is adjacent to the Walt Disney Family Museum and across the street from a sprawling lawn, distanced from urban traffic and an oasis unto itself. And, lest we forget, the hotel yields a billion-dollar view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The lodge is the newest neighbor on the Presidio block, a comfortable upscale property that opened in 2019. Similar to the other buildings that began life as 19th century military barracks, on every wall the brick hotel reminds you that this is where history lives. Artwork includes photos of infantrymen, framed mess hall cutlery, retouched photos of the Presidio icommunity n its heyday, the early flora and fauna, woodcut block prints of local trees and butterflies.
Upon arrival, the atmosphere envelops and welcomes like a grandma giving you a bear hug. While I did not detect scents of oven-baked chocolate chip cookies, I did notice the rocking chairs on the porch. Inside, the restored building was pristine, sunlight pouring through the window panes, washing the hardwood floors with warmth.
The environment is uncluttered and punctuated with fresh orchids and succulents. Off to the left, the lobby living room features mugs and souvenirs in a bookcase, a subtle retail area. The living room with the couch and matching seats is so cozy I was envisioning a family crowding around, putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Behind the lobby is the great room with more tables and chairs, military-themed artwork and photos, and a bookcase filled with books and games.
As we are still in the COVID-19 era, the guestrooms are sealed with a sticker on the door that reads: “This room has been sanitized.” Further, a large bottle of sanitizing gel crowns the writing desk. The cups and glasses are individually covered with plastic wrap. And if you need anything extra like slippers, bathrobes, or bottled water, you can request this by scanning a QR code or calling the front desk. This makes sure that fewer things are touched by fewer hands. Meanwhile, all staff are still wearing masks.
The interiors are masculinely curated in every way. Take for instance our suite, Number 213, facing the great lawn and other cream and brick Presidio buildings. This room features midnight blue accent walls. Consider the bed throw, a heavy gray blanket with a yellow stripe. A giant collage print features three illustrated military fellows, arm in arm with the words, “Joined together in unity… for a victorious 1943.” The sofa, the color of a Navy pea coat, plus the deep chocolate-colored wood dresser and leather side tables on a gray printed carpet, while they could make a room feel too dark and moody, actually works beautifully as the ceilings are extra high.
Brass accents like the lamps and brass tacks on the gray side chairs bring about a solid contrast. Plus, the trio of tall casement windows bring in the sun so the room appears feels cheerful and inviting. Let’s get into the room amenities. This suite was definitely made for families. The large space makes it more than suitable to add a playpen and blanket for toddlers to crawl around or for the kids to spread precious playthings.
The small in-room refrigerator hidden behind a door is a bonus when you want to bring the children’s favorite snacks and beverages. There is a pantry niche with a coffee maker and Equator coffee and tea, plus the sugar, creamer, etc. And the $7 snacks include things like cookies, nuts, and chocolate covered almonds just in case you get the munchies after a full day of activity. Rooms come with a large refillable water bottle and cups and wine glasses. Of course, very practical is the safe, large and wide enough for your laptop.
'The rooms also feature a nice looking, wooden outlet box on top of the writing desk with five USB ports and two sockets. Everyone in the family has his or her own devices, am I right? Hopefully, no one will have to fight for a plug to recharge their phone, watch, or game console. Free wifi is essential for every hotel these days, and in the rooms, aside from the high-tech stuff are a pair of old fashioned postcards you can send to your friends. Imagine that! A hand-written note, not an email or textT!
The hotel knows that it can get pretty rainy in San Francisco, so a pair of umbrellas are stationed near the door on the coatrack so you are not lacking.
FOOD & BEV
And speaking of not lacking, the lodge operates in the same fashion as a bed and breakfast. It includes a bountiful continental breakfast and a happy hour wine hour each day. Right now, you can choose from a list of breakfast items and place the tag on your doorknob before 10 p.m. The staff will have it ready for you’re the next day by the time requested either by delivering it to your room, or you can pick it up downstairs in the entry. The great room is filled with lots of dining tables, so we ate there and enjoyed a robust breakfast of hot oatmeal, pastries, freshly cut fruit, orange juice, a hard boiled egg, and yogurt. Yes, I inhaled everything!
In the evening between 5-7 p.m. the wine time is also an individual opportunity where you can also receive doled out portions of wine, cheese, nuts, fruit, and cookies to be COVID-19-compliant. You can enjoy appetizers anywhere on the public places or in your room as a service request.
Do note that the hotel does not feature a restaurant; and in fact, the entire Presidio, for now, has few dining options except for a Starbucks, some snack bars, and one restaurant that is open. On a rainy day, you can go to the great room and select a book from the bookshelf or borrow a board game to play with the family. You can also visit the Walt Disney Family Museum next door. Up the street is the Presidio Bowling alley, now open for play. You get free passes to the nearby YMCA which has a pool if you feel your clan needs to get some exercise.
But if you want to relax, we’ve got a few places for you to park your body. The firepit is in the rear of the hotel, and from there, you can sit in one of the Adirondack chairs for a spell to enjoy views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Or you can rock in one of the rocking chairs on the porch in front of the hotel and take it slow one day.
First, isn’t it strange to find a national park in the middle of a big city? This is not Yosemite, but note that this national park, at nearly 1,500 acres, is vast, and you won’t get through it in one day. Unusual treasures abound like the pet cemetery and a curvy sculpture on the ground named Treefall that's made of eucalyptus branches 1,200 feet in length. This one of the most fascinating urban recreation areas you’ll ever find and there is no admission fee.
Programs and new additions are constant. New this fall will be a "My Park Moment" photo display of 400 selected photos from ordinary folks who submitted snapshots of their favorite park moment. Towards the bay, you can see the development of the Tunnel Tops, a huge grassy multi-purpose recreation area that will debut next spring, fingers crossed. It promises to be a big deal.
Architectural digs are still being conducted in the Presidio, and children on school field trips will be a welcome sight this fall. A necklace of beaches are also part of the national park. You can get a lay of the land by embarking on the PresidiGo free shuttle bus with stops and connections throughout the day. Do know you can bring your bicycles and enjoy a ride on one of its designated bike paths? Hoof it with the kids or the dogs on one of its dozen trails, 24 miles worth, through eucalyptus groves and past giant earth art sculptures. A hike up the hill to the military cemetery is also interesting as you get panoramic views of San Francisco as your payoff.
A kid’s map detailing 22 adventures in the Presidio is free for the asking. You can go geocaching on the premises and find treasures in small boxes set up all around the park. Bring a Frisbee or ball to play catch on the lawn known as the Main Parade Ground.
A small campsite called the Rob Hill Campground is available to those who make their reservations extra early. And don’t leave the premises without taking a group selfie with the Yoda statue, located on the premises of the Lucasfilm studios, also on site.
Need a staycation before school starts? Check out the Lodge at the Presidio for R&R, learn something cool about this national park nestled inside the city, and say hi to Yoda.
Lodge at the Presidio
105 Montgomery St.
Rates start at $320