Jack Su, the proprietor of the Monte Cristo Bed & Breakfast in San Francisco, is an elegant man with an extensive collection of art and antiques. When he acquired this property in 2007, he found the perfect showcase for his fixtures and furnishings, as well as a very time-consuming new project — remodeling this long-neglected inn, with a checkered and fascinating history.
A former bordello, the colorful Monte Cristo Saloon was built in 1875, and operated during the turn of last century. The “saloon” survived the the 1906 earthquake and the great San Francisco fire, becoming a refuge to many who lost their homes in the disaster.
Though the building was added onto in 1912, if you peek through a skylight on the second floor you can still see the painted letters of the original Monte Cristo sign. Su and his partner discovered this artifact after cleaning years of grime off the glass panes.
Old green shag rugs were torn up to reveal original plank floors, that slope in places. Su has filled the 14 rooms with one-of-a-kind pieces he has picked up at auctions, as well as brand-new Simmons pillow-top mattresses. The flowered wallpaper has a dizzying effect that might remind you of a childhood visit to your great aunt’s house, and some of the rooms smell damp. New double-paned windows seal the cozy rooms from urban noise.
Rooms range from $129 to $149 including breakfast, and all have small but sparkling new bathrooms. The junior suite rents for $200 per night.
Wi-fi is free and a computer with printer is available to guests.
- The Monte Cristo’s website has lots of valuable information for guests with links to nearby shopping districts, museums, restaurants, tour and transportation.
Top photo by Lisa Dion, adjacent photo courtesy of the Monte Cristo.