I went to the opening of a new hotel in San Francisco last night called the Villa Florence. While trying to get to the bar for a flute of Prosecco, I started thinking, “What makes a great hotel?” I’ve stayed at plenty of them, and just like ex-boyfriends, most of them fall off my radar like David Hasselhoff falls off the wagon.

So, when I was checking out the not-so-new-joint that just got a face life, I realized that it’s not necessarily the bricks and mortar that makes a place sparkle and shine – it is the people.

An example of this was when I stayed at the Aqua Hotel in South Beach. The place is not the Four Seasons or the Ritz, but the staff was super duper friendly and our group of Divas had the run of the place with Jerry, the GM’s blessings. We could bring our own champagne into the hot tub and he kept my rented red, convertible Sebring right out front for easy access. Now, I have spent three times as much money to stay in fancy-smancy hotels like the Palace Hotel in San Francisco where we had security knocking at our door at midnight because our TV was too loud and our room service showed up an hour late and cold. Of course, the sheets at the Palace were far superior and the mini bar was stacked with yummy, exotic nuts and rich dark chocolate. The Aqua did not.
When you think about dropping cold hard cash to stay in a hotel, you got to think about you want to experience. And, just like men, you ain’t going to get it all sista. You have to make some compromises — unless you’re up for dropping $25000 a night for a P-Diddy penthouse where all your dreams and desires are fulfilled.

Come back down to reality Diva. Before booking that kick-ass pad in the sky, think about what you want to experience in your hotel stay:

– Are you all about the mini bar? Or is what you want a place to rest your head between midnight club hopping and day-long shopping?

– Does location matter? If being in the center of the action is what you want, expect to spend more.

– Can you make your own coffee in the morning, or do you need it delivered? Not all hotels have room service, which can be a good thing if you have an eating disorder.

– Timing is everything. When are you going and can you wait a few weeks until the seasons change and the tourist go home?

– Best hotel — Best price? I say, stay in the best hotel and in their cheapest room is money is an issue. For me, that is better than staying at a cheap hotel in their best room.

– Safety first. No mater what, as a traveling chick, you need to stay in a place that has 24 hour security. No questions asked.

– Services with a smile? Do they have concierge, work out room, spa, restaurants on location?

After I got my flute of sparkling wine at Villa Florence, I met up with a bunch of friends. And I realized, that for me, the number-one thing that I look for when I stay at an hotel is a friendly staff. I want to be treated with respect, kindness, and appreciation. The airlines sometimes say, “We know you have a choice when it comes to flying, and we are happy that you chose us.” Even though, most airlines suck now, it would be nice to see hotels adopt that ideology. Because, the truth is, we do have a choice about where we stay.

As for the Villa Florence, I don’t know what to tell you. I have not stayed there yet, but everyone seemed pretty nice. If you do stay there, let me know what you think.

Villa Florence
225 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. Reservations: 866.823.4669
Hotel Direct: 415.397.7700