What is Luxury? Can it truly be private?

San Francisco’s ultra luxe private club The Battery

By Barbara Schmidt, studiobstyle

Spending a long weekend in San Francisco I had the opportunity to check out the exclusive Battery Social Club and The Proper Hotel, as well as, the restaurants COI and Petit Crenn. It was a pivotal weekend for sure because each property is going through changes. This is Part 1 of 4 in a series exploring luxury.

First: The Battery

Created by Girish Nundloll, Noun Project

Created by Girish Nundloll, Noun Project

If you’d like to see The Battery interiors check out article below because we are asked to keep our phones to ourselves upon reservation. This is a very hard rule to follow in today’s digital first world especially if you are celebrating a special event. https://www.businessinsider.com/take-a-look-inside-the-battery-2018-1

This ultra exclusive private club was so welcoming and warm that I had to double-check the fact that it is a private club. As it was the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it was quiet with just a few guests staying in the club’s 14 rooms. Apparently, you don’t have to be a member to stay at the hotel because I am not a member. However to become a member one must be invited by another member.

Amazing floral arrangement like the one at The Battery reception. Photo: johnchristenson.com

Amazing floral arrangement like the one at The Battery reception. Photo: johnchristenson.com

After reading a San Francisco Chronicle article; https://www.sfchronicle.com/style/article/The-Battery-s-new-charge-Four-years-later-is-12434312.php; I wondered what I’d gotten myself into. Is the private club The Battery a passé venue?

Just how exclusive is the Battery? It’s tip top expensive compared to anything else in the San Francisco area so that does tend to exclude a lot of the market. This got me to thinking – how exclusive is luxury? Is it the proverbial 1% or the 6.5% trying to be the 1%?

Favorite Design Element of our Room #14 at The Battery: Modified Flamestitch Rug in pink, peach and oranges (more pale than the Castello Vintage Claret Flamestitch shown here)

Favorite Design Element of our Room #14 at The Battery: Modified Flamestitch Rug in pink, peach and oranges (more pale than the Castello Vintage Claret Flamestitch shown here)

This is the struggle of The Battery’s perception. The property needs to be updated from the worn bath towels to the worn furniture. A lot of the spaces are off limits to hotel guests such as the penthouse bar area, however, I was able to tour the famous green lacquered room and the cerused oak bar, which both look in need an upgrade or two.

Our room’s seating area was anchored with a silk velvet sofa like this one I had made for a client.

Our room’s seating area was anchored with a silk velvet sofa like this one I had made for a client.

Most of the interior design is attributed to “master of surprise” Ken Fulk. Fulk is known for his over the top events and sophisticated design. The Battery has a nod to British flair with a large pub area and overtones of masculinity with leather seating and dark woods. It feels tired especially compared to Fulk’s latest endeavor – the Swan and Bar Bevy in Miami.

In fact, Fulk just happened to be down in Miami the same weekend I was in San Francisco. He was opening the restaurant Swan and Bar Bevy with Pharrell Williams and Dave Grutman. Now that design is a whole explosion of pink and green as one would expect in South Beach. It feels fresh and current. See the link here for visual on that opening: https://www.miami.com/miami-restaurants/we-know-dave-grutman-and-pharrells-restaurant-swan-is-a-scene-but-what-about-the-food-201691/

Surrounded by attention to detail, every single space has surprises and nuances such as these leather and brass pulls.

Surrounded by attention to detail, every single space has surprises and nuances such as these leather and brass pulls.

How to compare two Fulk designed projects? The Battery feels even more out of touch with Fulk’s latest hot pink and green design. Should a single property highlight just one designer? Well it certainly seems that this trend is popular and I’ll review the collaboration with Kelly Wearstler and the Hotel Proper in an upcoming blog.

Back to the Battery for a note about the food – we were a little disappointed day after day when there wasn’t any avocado for the toast or the egg dishes. To be fair, we’d eaten spectacularly over the weekend so this was a bit frustrating as our expectations were high.

Overall, I found out that there is a lot of change happening at the Battery from new artwork to programed events to updated furnishings. We are happy to hear up the new bar in the library as well. These are all good reasons to stop back for another long weekend that we will surely do next time we find ourselves in S.F.

Review: This is a must see space if you are ever invited for an event. I’d hold off staying at The Battery until all the upgrades are made hopefully by early in 2019.