Story and photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession
Sitting at a scrolled metal table and sipping Earl Grey tea, I'm admiring a hummingbird darting about a lush garden. Nearby, a brick pathway curves along boxwood hedges, potted daffodils, assorted trees, classic statuary and a tall camellia bush with pink blooms the shade of cotton candy. You may think I'm in the midst of a pastoral estate but I'm actually staying at the Union Street Inn, a gracious bed-and-breakfast in San Francisco's Cow Hollow neighborhood.
|The garden at the Union Street Inn|
We arrive at the Carriage House, a contemporary cottage, which is separate from the inn's 1904 Edwardian house and situated at the back of the garden. It features a patio with twin chairs, a table set and an arched entryway.
|The Carriage House|
Inside, sheer white drapes intertwined with an antiqued gold bed crown, a queen-size bed topped with sumptuous linens and sand-colored walls create a dreamy atmosphere. The highlight of the spacious bathroom is the large whirlpool tub. The bathroom also contains a vanity area, a shower and a wooden rack holding a generous supply of fluffy cotton towels. The Carriage House makes guests feel welcome with sumptuous robes, fresh fruit, filtered water and chocolates. It includes a flat-screen television, WiFi and a coffee maker.
|The Carriage House and its part of its private garden|
On the main floor of the house, classical music plays in the parlor. Guests chat while settled on a sofa and chairs, surrounded by seafaring paintings, a large fireplace, ceramic candelabras, military figurines and a crystal chandelier. Outside, a deck with tables overlooks the lush garden with its seating area, a pineapple-topped fountain, bird feeders and flower beds. The parlor is the main hub of activity. Breakfast happens between 8 and 10 a.m. daily. In the late afternoon, beverages and cheese are put out. Guests have 24-hour access to this room and can help themselves to tea, coffee, hot chocolate and a sweet treat, along with reading celebrity, home decor, garden and travel magazines.
|The parlor of the main house.|
The inn's atmosphere is unpretentious, thanks to the warm and personable staff. In the morning, we ate a hearty, delicious breakfast, beginning with a cup of fruit and banana nut bread, followed by an egg scramble made with ham, cheese and fresh vegetables accompanied with toast and butter.
|The Union Street Inn|
Just outside is Union Street, lined with fashionable boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and historic Victorian and Edwardian structures. Dining options include Rose's Cafe (2298 Union St.), which serves up home-style Italian dishes, including all-natural roasted half chicken topped with a dollop of herb butter and accompanied by a side of crunchy, fresh watercress.
Union Street Inn: 2229 Union St., S.F. (415) 346-0424, www.unionstreetinn.com. Five rooms plus the Carriage House, all nonsmoking, no pets, no wheelchair access; children not encouraged. $249-$369. Parking in public garage on Union Street.