Storied Sir Francis Drake Hotel to be Sold

By Kurt Stolz on 3 February 2021
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The current owner of the storied Sir Francis Drake Hotel said it has entered into an agreement to sell the property, which is located in downtown San Francisco near Union Square.

The Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, which has owned the hotel since 2010, announced that it had entered into a contract to sell the property to an undisclosed third party in a deal that will generate $157 million in proceeds.  Prior owners include hotelier Conrad Hilton, who bought it in 1938 and sold it in 1941.  It was later managed by Western Hotels, a predecessor of Westin,  now a Marriott unit, and became a Kimpton property in 2014 when Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants founder Bill Kimpton formed an investment partnership that purchased it in 1993.

The hotel is named after the 16th century explorer Sir Francis Drake best known for his circumnavigation of the world from 1577 to 1580.  It was built in 1928 by two Midwestern hotel developers, Leon W. Huckins and John A. Newcomb, for the then princely sum of $5 million ($76 million in present-day dollars).

The Sir Francis Drake was designed by the firm Weeks and Day in the European Renaissance style of Drake’s time.  Major architectural elements included a grand marble staircase, vaulted gold leafed embossed ceilings, and bas-relief detail.  Guest rooms, restaurants, and banquet halls were equally elegant.

The hotel is known for the Starlight Room nightclub on the 21st floor as well as the Prohibition Room where bootlegged liquor was stored during the Prohibition Era.  It is also known for its doormen in Beefeater uniforms, a group that included Tom Sweeney, who became a local celebrity after holding that post for 43 years.  Sweeney retired in January 2020.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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