Leave it to Kelly Wearstler—the Los Angeles interior designer who single-handedly revived the all-out glamour of Hollywood Regency on the West Coast—to help propel an entire swath of San Francisco into the future, all while paying tribute to the area’s past. As the creative force behind the Proper Hotel, the Mid-Market neighborhood’s most eagerly awaited new property, Wearstler looked to the building’s early 1900s genesis for inspiration. “The Beaux-Arts architecture of the hotel is so unique,” she says of the flatiron-shaped, red-brick landmark on the corner of Market and McAllister Streets. “By stripping away layers of modifications and unveiling its original design, I think we created a kind of sculpture to the rebirth of this whole zone.”
Once a hangout for the city’s social set, Mid-Market had degraded into an enclave of vagrancy—and, infamously, widespread public urination—in the 1980s, its architectural heritage left to crumble. The arrival of Twitter’s headquarters in 2012, and later Uber’s, hinted at renewal for the neighborhood, but no project has matched the excitement generated by Proper Hospitality’s new flagship, the first in a string of hotels that will fan out to Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and Austin.
With its residential interiors emulating a series of stylish pieds à terre, the San Francisco iteration has the kind of refreshed Old World charm that draws everyone from techies to the creatively inclined. “It’s elegant and easy, like a true European boutique hotel,” says Wearstler, who added local flair by sourcing pre-Modernist and midcentury paintings by Bay Area artists to decorate the art-filled lobby. The 131 guest rooms display a salmagundi of wallpapers in throwback prints, their moody black, white, and gray palette creating a cool coziness, while a bold mix of graphic patterns and textures echoes the urban vibrancy on the streets outside. In true Wearstler fashion, the hotel’s three dining venues up the ante on the wow factor. Helmed by James Beard Award–nominee and Eleven Madison Park alum Jason Franey, the formal restaurant Villon is covered in an intricateribbed paneling that looks like a Cubist mural, and Charmaine’s, the rooftop bar, harks back to the Vienna Secession movement, with salon-style seating arrangements anchored by vintage rugs. “I’m super proud of this project,” the designer says. “I loved working in an emerging area and giving it a new spirit.”