Appendix- The Metro Hotel

Update:

I wrote up the following information about the Metro Hotel for Dr. Ousterhout's office manager in 1997, since they'd just started using the hotel and she wanted to know my experience. Since that time, Dr. Ousterhout has begun offering recovery in Coccoon House. Check with Dr. Ousterhout's office for details on these and other options.

Dr. Ousterhout's office has an arrangement with the Metro for a room discount. Be sure to mention that as you check in. They have two kinds of rooms from what I could gather: doubles and queen-size. Their usual check-in is around 3:00, but they had a room for me when I got there at 12:30. The hotel has a small lobby, and the front desk is attended until midnight. Stairs and halls are rather dark, and I don't think there is an elevator, if that's a concern for you. The whole place has a slightly European feel to it.

Rooms themselves are quite compact- just a few feet of floor space around the queen-sized bed in my room. The hotel was built at a time when space was at a premium, and rooms have a number of features I've seen in San Francisco apartments, including very high ceilings, a shower stall (no tub) and a sink in the main room instead of the bathroom. Bring your own shampoo. Little handsoaps, washcloths and towels were provided. They had a good-sized television that got 10 stations. The one in my room had no remote, though, which could have been bothersome if I'd had more serious surgery or had watched more TV. They did not do wake-up calls, but they had alarm clocks available for guests if you asked at the front desk. Phone calls were pretty pricey in comparison to the hotel in general, although they were about the going rate at better hotels: 75 cents for local calls, and a somewhat high long-distance rate. I found my calling card a cheaper option. They also have pay phones if you want to save 50 cents per local call. They have a voicemail system which could be accessed from outside the hotel if necessary.

My room had a narrow window which let some light in, but had no view. The rooms facing the street probably have more light, but possibly at the cost of the silence I enjoyed in my room. The rooms were clean, but pretty austere-- nothing on the walls, a bit dark, but perfectly adequate for recovery from surgery. If you get tired of being in your room, there is the nice little Metro Cafe next to the lobby, and a number of nearby shops, corner grocers, and restaurants to enjoy. If your bandages or bruising make you feel like you'd rather stay out of the public eye, there is a nice little garden in the back of the hotel with a brick patio. Apparently, they had some kittens back there earlier this year, but I saw nary a feline while I was looking around. In the back, you can sit and relax or read without seeing others, and had I stayed longer, I would have probably wanted to get out of the room and sit out there. However, I walked around in my bandages with impunity, knowing that I'd never see these people again, and that there were far more unusual sights than my bandaged head on the streets of San Francisco.

They have parking available around the corner at a nearby garage, but it's only free to hotel guests between 6 pm and 9 am. I never used it. I had no problems finding street parking, although you must be very vigilant about observing all posted signs, curb markings, meters, etc. Because I was staying for a short time and was visiting a friend in the east bay, I got a car for the weekend, but a car is not necessary. It's way too expensive unless you plan to use it a lot.

One reason the hotel is so quiet is because they lock the front door at midnight. A sign on the door says "No visitors after 10:00 pm." Everyone seemed to comply with the rule. I heard people coming and going occasionally, but it was remarkably quiet during my stay. Most people are out all day doing the tourist thing and go to sleep right away upon return. I got the impression it was used mostly by seasoned travellers and foreigners, two groups generally known for their good behavior. Overall, the staff was very nice, although the woman on duty in the evening was a bit put out when I called in after 10:00 and asked her to take a message for some friends who were stopping by after we'd missed each other earlier. She lightened up once I got back and poured on some of my patented charm.

The only things I missed about the hospital rooms were the adjustable bed (although I improvised with the extra bedding in the closet), and the refrigerator and microwave that were available at the hospital. Those things were not worth the extra 40 bucks a day the hospital now charges. If you've got plenty of money to spend, there are countless options for world-class hotels in San Francisco, but for the price you aren't going to get a better or more convenient place to stay than the Metro unless you mooch off local friends.

The Metro Hotel is at 319 Divisadero Street (between Oak and Page)

phone: 415-861-5364 fax: 415-665-7659