Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Where to stay now

June 20, 2007

I had just a couple of small leftovers from my San Francisco weekend I thought I’d mention here. On Sunday, after all the opera excitement, I stopped by the Empire Plush Room in the York Hotel on Sutter for a cabaret performance from Marin Mazzie, who was wrapping up a week-long stay. The brief 60-minute program featured numbers from her Kander and Ebb/Jeffy Herman review and was enjoyable despite its brevity. I won’t go on except to say that her versions of “Maybe This Time” and her signature version of “Ring Them Bells” made the whole evening worthwhile. I saw Mazzie with her husband Jason Danieley in Orange County earlier this year and she was in the same dress performing different material. Though I like Danieley very much, I thought Mazzie was better here largely because she is the better singer and without him present, it was less distracting.

On my regular sojourns to San Francisco over the last several years, I’ve tended to stay a number of places and while I love the Palace and the W, there are financial considerations to keep in mind, so I’ve taken to staying at the far more reasonable and centrally-located Best Western Miyako on Sutter and Buchanan. It has always been clean but not much else. It was charmingly outdated and I like that it wasn't really trying to do anything. It also had a great advertisement in the elevators for the in-house restaurant , Café Mums, which from the photo appeared to be frequented by die-hard fans of Designing Women.

Well, they have just completed a major renovation and “rebranding” as a boutique hotel so we were surprised to arrive not at the Miyako but instead at the new Best Western Tomo, San Francisco’s newest Japanese anime-themed hotel. The rooms now feature large anime murals as well as cedar wood desks, bright modern furniture, flat screen TVs and huge Fatboy bean bag chairs. Check out the photos. Sure it’s not luxurious, and may be a bit crass, but it was also a fun makeover. Café Mums has also been reformatted and is fairly popular for its all-you-can-eat Shabu-shabu. I'll be in a lot of hotel rooms this summer but I doubt any will be as interesting as this one, compared to its previous incarnation. If you’re 11 years-old or an out-of-town visitor, it’s worth checking out.

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