San Francisco is known for its landmarks, architecture, and for being one of the first gay-friendly cities in the world—The Dash, a notorious gay bar, opened in 1908! Aside from its colorful and grand history however, the city has also dealt with many tragedies. There are those who say that tragedies bring about hauntings and being that the time of ghosts and ghouls is almost upon us, I decided to take a closer look at one of San Francisco’s famous haunted hotels.
The Queen Anne Hotel
Built in 1890 and formerly an all-girls boarding school, this Victorian mansion is said to be haunted by the school’s headmistress. In 1906, San Francisco suffered a natural catastrophe in the form of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake set off a series of fires that caused the destruction of nearly 80% of the city. Remarkably, the Queen Anne survived the earthquake and fires.
Today, the mansion serves as a charming bed and breakfast with furnishings and mementos from a bygone era. Ornate chairs and couches are thoughtfully placed around wood-burning fireplaces that make hypnotizing and otherworldly sounds. The wallpaper and carpeting are also straight out of a Victorian painting.
After marveling at the sitting area, we headed up to our room via the elevator. Even this typically mundane object had a wooden bench inside and made sounds that reminded me of a horror movie as it lifted us up to the next floor. The room, of course, did not break from the beautiful, yet eerie atmosphere the rest of the hotel had already created.
After setting our things down in our elegant room, we wondered, “What is there to eat around here?” The hotel offers free breakfast and complimentary sherry and cookies in the afternoon. However, you’re on your own for dinner. After looking at a map of the surrounding area, I noticed we were very close to San Francisco’s Japantown. Surely there would be something tasty to eat there.
After a 5-minute walk, we found ourselves in the heart of Japantown. The aptly named Osaka Way featured a cobblestone street and Japanese-style facades on the stores and restaurants that lined it. The major focal point of the area is the Peace Pagoda—a gift to San Francisco from the city of Osaka in 1968.
Making our way toward this striking monument brought us to Japan Center, where we walked past many restaurants, bars, and colorful shops. There was one restaurant, Marafuku, that caught my eye as it had a large crowd in front of it. The waitlist to eat there was unbelievably long, with 48 parties ahead of us, but the fact that so many people were trying to get a table here on an otherwise quiet Tuesday night made me think it would be worth the wait.
It took about an hour for our party to be called, but once we were seated our orders were taken quickly and our food was brought out not long after. The food absolutely proved to be worth the wait! The pork ramen I ordered at Marafuku is hands down the best ramen I have ever had and it is apparent that many others would agree with me. This restaurant is a must-try for ramen lovers in the area, just make sure to plan ahead and join the waitlist early.
Back to the Queen Anne
The walk back to the hotel was a short and quiet one, with most people walking to and from the bars and restaurants in the immediate area around Japan Center. The lobby and sitting area in the Queen Anne were also quiet except for the sounds coming from the fireplaces and mysterious music softly wafting through the room. After a day of exploring Japantown and with a belly full of delicious ramen I was tired and fell asleep early. The ghost of the former headmistress, Miss Mary, is said to roam the halls and tuck guests in at night. I’m afraid she did not visit me during my stay, though her comforting hauntings would have been welcome. Perhaps she will visit you during your stay at the charming Queen Anne.