My wife and I have been staying at the Grant every couple of years for 8 or 10 years now. We first read about it in the New York Times and thought the price was too good to be true. However, it is really a bargain in a major city. (All major cities are expensive.) Our most recent visit was April 20-22, 2012.
Some of the rooms, particularly the corner rooms, have a fantastic view of the street below. I have spent more than one afternoon just watching the wondrous mix of people moving up and down Grant Avenue. On the other hand, some of the rooms have no view at all. It is the luck of the draw, although the twin bedded rooms seem to have a better view. The rooms are small, and only one room has a bathtub, all the rest have showers.
It is clean, and the staff is very friendly and helpful. It is old and worn in spots, but it is due for a major renovation of the rooms in the next few months.
Costs are held low by having no breakfast, in-room coffee makers, or even a large lobby. It does have two PC's one can rent at the rate of $5 for 20 minutes, just enough time to print out your boarding passes for the next leg of your trip. I doubt that it has Wi-Fi, but I have never tried.
The location is fantastic. Exactly one block away is a Starbucks, so that takes care of not having anything to eat in the hotel. It also takes care of lunch and dinner if you are on a budget. A few doors up the hill from the Starbucks is a small shop that sells groceries, wine, beer, and liquor.
Obviously, the Grant Plaza is ideal for scouting out Chinatown, but just outside the ornamental Chinatown gate is the French Quarter of San Francisco. A beautiful French church is just up the hill from the gate, and across the street from the gate is the Café de la Press, a magnet for foreign travelers. (Staff there are required to be at least bi-lingual.) Nearby are four good French restaurants, Café Claude, Café Le Central, and Café La Bastille.
Regardless of where your room is, take the elevator to the 6th floor and look at the stained glass dome and windows. They look original to me. There is also a small seating area beneath the dome.
Ask for a corner room overlooking Grant and Pine.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC