Hotel Union Square Lobby

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Hotel Union Square in San Francisco recently refreshed its lobby and two penthouse suites. The hotel’s lobby—with its terracotta orange-red color palette and hodgepodge of styles—previously felt outdated, says Jonathan Rachman, principal at Jonathan Rachman Design in San Francisco, the firm behind the lobby’s new look. To achieve an Old World European vibe that’s intimate and luxurious but also feels current, Rachman chose a more neutral color palette with blacks, whites, grays, and silvers. He also incorporated rich textures and materials, such as Carrera marble, mohair, leather, alabaster, and high-gloss finishes. “It’s like the little black dress that’s been accessorized,” Rachman says. Hotel Union Square is part of Personality Hotels’ group of boutique hotels.

All Shapes and Sizes
Rachman wanted to respect and preserve the structural and architectural elements of the historic property, so he simply enhanced them with hexagon, square, oval, and globe patterns. “There are so many overlapping patterns, yet if you look at the overall outcome, I think it’s a fairly chic and calm place,” he says.

More Is Less
Local artist Caroline Lizarraga hand painted the curved plaster wall above the reception and concierge desks to mimic the pattern of fabric. “We play with scale and depth to add layers to it, but it’s still cohesive and not in your face,” Rachman says. “It’s more but appears to be less.”


Something to Talk About
Artwork and décor curated by Rachman’s team includes a modern triptych print of a sunset for a pop of color, a framed flat-screen TV that plays old black-and-white movies from the Golden Era on loop to add edginess and glam, and—to some people’s surprise—resin antlers. “Not everything has to be matchy matchy,” he says. “It’s a conversation piece.”