“Welcome Martha’s Family & Friends” was the first message we noticed written on the chalkboard wall inside the lobby of the Metro Hotel, located at 319 Divisadero between Page and Oak Streets.
We had walked past this hotel countless times — on our way to Nopa for their Aristocrat cocktail, or to Popeye’s for their 2-piece Tuesday special (man, we love this neighborhood) — but had never taken the time to stop in.
Then, one sunny afternoon, we decided the time had come.
We were greeted by Monte, a courteous and thoughtful front desk agent. He told us that the Metro was a family-owned property, with only 24 rooms and an outdoor patio space that the hotel shares with Ragazza. At Monte’s encouragement, we returned later to speak with Shana, the owner’s daughter, who gave us a tour of the property.
The Metro’s lobby is small, but has everything a good hotel lobby should have, including a friendly and knowledgeable agent, maps of the city, old-timey radio, free apples (!), books guests can borrow during their stay, a chalkboard wall with special notes and news, and more.
The guestrooms are simple, clean, and well-appointed, with flat-screen TVs and iPod docking stations. The pricing of the rooms never changes, and ranges from $76 to $130 per night.
We feel the need to mention the outdoor patio space again. It’s a seriously lovely little oasis, blocked from the wind and beautifully designed by a local landscape artist, Jay Thayer.
Though we appreciate the unchanging room rates and incredible outdoor space, what really sets the Metro apart is its embodiment of local hospitality.
Shana began telling us all kinds of amazing stories about past and present hotel guests. One by the name of Rosamond “Corky” McGuinness immediately came to her mind.
Corky had been coming to San Francisco from England for fifteen years to volunteer with Project Open Hand. Even after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she continued making the trip to San Francisco on a regular basis. Shana remembers Corky as a “no nonsense” kind of gal who always stayed in the same room (#206) and who, after the course of many years, really became like another member of the family.
Corky passed away only two months ago, and as Shana showed us the details of her obituary and discussed plans to add an English element to Room #206 in her honor, we could see why Corky, along with so many others, could find the Metro Hotel and never want to stay anywhere else while visiting San Francisco.
This sentiment of familiarity also came through when, at the end of our talk with Shana, she pointed to the chalkboard wall and let us know that Martha, who is also a front desk agent, was graduating from USF that weekend with a Law and Business degree. Martha’s entire family was staying at the Metro, which would be hosting a garden party on the patio. She said we were more than welcome to attend — and you can hardly keep us away from a good garden party. So we stopped by, met Martha, and congratulated her on graduating. We also spotted the Metro’s housekeeping team of three sitting down to eat with all of Martha’s family, the owner Ellen, and a few other front desk agents who all seemed to be genuinely enjoying their time together. For the extended family of the Metro, it was just another lovely day at the hotel.
Thanks to the Metro Hotel for letting us check out what hospitality means in the Lower Haight.