The Starlight Room – High above the streets of San Francisco, overlooking the cable cars as they glide past Union Square, Harry Denton’s Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel invites its guests to an evening of drinks and dancing. The posh club and lounge is situated on the hotel’s 21st floor, and well known for its 360 degree views of San Francisco.
The Starlight Room reminisces on old San Francisco from its décor (though it was recently renovated) to the music selection and cocktail menu, and even to the crowd, which skews older (30+). The ambiance is old fashioned in the best way: crystal chandeliers, dramatic red curtains and high-backed red booths. The dance floor is embellished with a white starburst, beneath a spinning disco ball. Though the hotel and lounge are swanky, I never felt uncomfortable or out of place.
My first experience at the Starlight Room was for a friend’s birthday celebration on a Saturday night, when he decided he wanted to do something a little different. We got dressed up (the dress code is enforced, but there’s no need for suits and gowns unless you’re so inclined) and paid the $10 cover. Rather than grabbing a drink at the bar and heading straight to the dance floor, we decided to wait for a table where we could hang out. The staff were courteous and helpful. The host escorted us to a table right by a window, where our busy but very sweet waitress took over.
The cocktail menu at the Starlight Room features a lot of old fashioned drinks, especially gin cocktails, but with some memorable drinks like the Cable Car. The liquor list is extensive, and the prices are about what you’d expect for a high-end hotel bar: cocktails start at $12, beers run around $8, and wine starts at $11 per glass and goes on up from there. Bottle service starts at around $275 and reaches up to $8000, for the Remy Martin Cognac Louis XIII, so you can celebrate when you win the lottery or sell your start up or something.
My friends and I had not recently acquired a large sum of money, but we were celebrating a milestone birthday so we decided to pick a bowl of Pimms Punch (with Pimms, Hendricks, ginger beer, lemon and some other fruit). I loved the retro vibes of sitting around a punch bowl, filling and refilling our tiny punch glasses while we lounged and people watched and gazed out at the city lights. We got some fries to snack on (they were crispy and served with a few different dips), but the bar food menu is far from typical: from deviled eggs and bacon to spicy tuna or salted caramel popcorn. They also offer an olive appetizer and a meat and cheese platter, which go along with the punch bowl to make you feel like you’re hanging out at a friend’s party.
The DJ knew how to please the mostly older crowd, with a lot of old school hits, golden oldies, classic hip hop and top 40 tunes. I found it a great change from the super loud clubs that play house music or only hip hop.
The great music drew us away from our comfortable table and we hit the dance floor, which is a fairly small space that stayed busy for the hours we were there. The windows surrounding the dance floor offered great views of the San Francisco skyline, and Union Square directly below. The one thing I did not like was the number of people who stood around the periphery of the dance floor just watching, which felt like leering at some point, but there are always some creeps at clubs so at least these ones kept their distance. It might be a sign that I’m getting older, but dancing the night away to oldies, without being bothered by anyone or dealing with fall-down drunk people was so much better than just about any club or bar scene I’ve been to in San Francisco lately.
The venue also hosts a Sunday brunch drag show with a buffet, that I think could be a great time, but it is pricy at $60 a head (shows begin at 11:30 am and 2 pm). They also have a grand New Year’s Eve celebration in which tickets cost about $100 (or $250 if you’d like to enjoy dinner there as well).
The Starlight Room is great for a romantic dancing date night, birthday celebrations, and getting a drink while enjoying the view (and the music). It’s also a chill spot to hang out with friends and chat over food or drinks, especially since the music isn’t so loud that it’s impossible to hear one another. If you’re tired of the regular bar scene or looking to enjoy a classy evening out in San Francisco, the Starlight Room is worth checking out.
Starlight Room General Information
Address: Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 21st floor
450 Powell Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 395-8595
Tuesday-Thursday: 6pm – 12am
Friday-Saturday: 5pm – 2am
Sunday: 10:30am – 2pm
Published On: Wednesday, July 29th, 2015