Whimsical art at the Diva Hotel in San Francisco

DAY ONE  — March 16, 2011

 Ready to play dress up? 

If you stay in a kids’ suite at the Hotel Diva (www.hoteldiva.com) on Union Square, your little princess can do just that with sparkly shoes, a pink boa, jewelry and a drawer full of “gowns.” If you have a prince, he can play Wii among other things. Whimsical wall art suggests “Keep calm and eat a cupcake” Or “Keep Calm and Rock On.” 

There are games, puzzles, an assortment of kids’ movies.  Kids sleep in bunk beds while parents sleep in a separate room attached by a hall. Families share a bath. 

Diva, one of the local Personality Hotels (www.personalityhotels.com) is  among the 50-plus boutique hotels in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com)   that increasingly appeal to families as well as to couples and business travelers. The rooms here with their oh-so-comfy beds are sleek and modern. There is a Starbucks next door as well as an excellent Mexican bistro, Colibri (www.colibrimexicanbistro.com). 

Of course not all boutique hotels have as perfect locations or kids’ suites — very popular, according to Virgil Lopez, the assistant GM who showed it to me. Families choose these smaller hotels because of the intimate atmosphere, the service and the fact that they have, well, more personality  than big chain hotels,  said Marion Haglund, just checking out with her husband and two daughters. 

The Vancouver family loved the Diva. “It was funky,” said 16 year old Hannah Haglund. 

“Different than other hotels,” added her 12 year old sister Sarah. 

And close to all the shopping, the girls agreed. 

“It had a lot of character,” added their mom. 

And that counts when you want the hotel to be part of the experience, not just a place to sleep. 

After a  very comfortable night at the  Diva, I moved over to Kimpton’s Harbor Court Hotel (www.harborcourt.com)  on the Embarcadero, a block from San Francisco’s restored Ferry Building and the heart of a growing restaurant scene. I can see the Bay Bridge from my window. 

There are nine Kimpton hotels in SF — this is where the boutique hotel chain (www.kimptonhotels.com)  started. The room is small but I love that the hotel  is  pet friendly—all the pooches seem to encourage guests to talk to one another—and the amenities—free Wii (as long as I’m a member of Kimpton’s loyalty program), free coffee in the morning, free wine reception in late afternoon in the comfortable lounge with its fireplace. 

Got to go before it’s over.