Cavallo Point Lodge San FranciscoGalavante Confidential - A San Francisco Treat: The Cavallo Point Lodge
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, head to Cavallo Point Lodge, the perfect setting for a little somethin’ somethin’. Tucked away at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge – yes, that means killer views – this is where the locals go to chill out from their already chilled-out San Fran lives. Our insider tip is to call ahead and arrange for VIP check-in through Nancy, the head concierge. This lady knows her stuff, and will hook you up in style throughout your stay. No request (or at least none that she’d admit to) is too outrageous. Even if it means chartering a yacht to explore the San Francisco Bay. Now this is our kind of service.
An Officer and a Gentleman
A former military fort, the Cavallo Point Lodge is anything but bare-bones bunks. Recreate “An Officer and a Gentleman” in the historic rooms, which are tucked into quaint white houses that overlook the rolling hills. Once former officer quarters, today they’re restored suites with private fireplaces and luxe bathrooms.
If modernist is your thing, book a contemporary suite, in the hills above the main house. With floor-to-ceiling windows, these rooms have the best views in the whole joint – and you’ll understand why city folk drive up here to hole up for the weekend.
Chillin’, San Fran Style
So how do San Franciscans chill out? Think acupuncture, nutritionists, and hiking in Golden Gate Park. The Cavallo is no frilly spa; it’s a wellness center where there’s a real doctor in the house. When the spa menu has offerings like integrative medicine and healing arts services, you know they mean business. Don’t worry, though; that organic facial will still put you in a blissful state of mind, as will the chill-out area with its vaulted ceilings and large picture windows. At Cavallo, pure sleep and relaxation are the best medicine. And unlike its military roots, here the only discipline you’ll need is to get up in time for morning yoga.
Where Food is an Aphrodisiac
Cavallo embraces healthy eating, but there’s no need to go to extremes if granola’s not your thing. The Cavallo Point Lodge is a culinary center, with a full-on school that’s as much about being social as it is about sharpening those knife skills. Forget the dating sites – for singles, the cooking school is a perfect spot to meet someone with as impeccable taste in food and travel as you. Enjoy a Valentine’s Day class on aphrodisiacs, and then head back to the room to test the efficacy of those love potions.
And for those not so skilled in the kitchen, pull up a chair at the restaurant which has one hot scene. This is no hotel tourist trap – look around, and you’ll see lots of locals out for a gourmet meal. There’s no cutesy décor like you’d find at grandma’s either; here, a chic energy fills the dining room that’s decorated with elegant Mission-style furniture.
The vibe may be casual but the food presentation is fine dining all the way. Starters are sized at about three to four bites, so order it up. The fresh Kumamoto oysters are like candy, and juxtaposed with fried oysters with a shallot fondue. Other standouts are the light yet decadent lobster risotto, and the halibut, which on our visit was served atop a potato puree with a beignet on the side.
A Hop, Skip, and a Jump Away
The beauty of Cavallo is that you’re just 10 minutes away by car to the city, so it’s a breeze to spend the afternoon in Pacific Heights, and then to indulge in a gourmet dinner in the Mission. Pacific Heights is the place you’d want to live if you were local, with its gorgeous views of the Pacific, beautiful mansions, and colorful brownstones. Hike the hills from Fillmore Street over to Union, which has charming shops and restaurants.
On Union, you can shop up a storm. Stop by Past Perfect, an antique shop with great prices. The furniture stores are also highlights – you’ll find high-quality pieces for fairly reasonable prices like the dining room table we spied for about $1200. Otherwise, relax for a few hours watching sports at Brixton before moseying over to the Mission for drinks. We’ll be leaving our hearts in San Francisco for a future Galavante feature, so stay tuned for more insider tips.
Not Much to Look At, but a Killer Restaurant Scene
The Mission area may not be much to look at, but it has some of the finest restaurants in the city. Lolo is reputed to serve the best Mexican, which is a bold statement so close to Mexico. While the guacamole is forgettable, the Taco Tropical is not. This is their version of shrimp tacos, with a thin slice of jicama instead of a tortilla shell. Other favorites are the seared salmon crusted with nuts and a wasabi cream sauce, the gorditas, made with short ribs, and the crab with chorizo. Is this the top Mexican eatery in San Fran? It has to be pretty darned close.
After your adventure in the Mission, within a flash you’re back at the Cavallo, unwinding from all the excitement and back to clean living. In that, Cavallo Point Lodge does have one similarity to its military roots. After a weekend here, you’ll be all straightened out.