Hotel Thursdays: Hotel Tomo

Posted by on October 4, 2012
Hotel Tomo - Players Suite

Hotel Tomo Players Suite

Today’s Geek Destination of Choice:

Hotel Tomo in San Francisco, California


What it is:

Hotel Tomo is an anime-themed boutique hotel located in the middle of San Francisco’s Japantown. The rooms are decorated with a cheery modern minimalism, giant murals, and stocked with copies of anime magazines.


Why This Sets my Geek Heart Aflutter:

An anime-themed hotel in the heart of Japantown? In San Francisco?

Ok, there will likely be plenty of other entries in the future about specific San Francisco attractions. The city itself is amazing on so many levels, geek interests aside. And with geek interests, there’s just so much…. science! Knowledge! Ocean! Chocolate! Oh, San Francisco, we have NOT seen the last of you yet. No, we haven’t. The Geek Tourist is not anywhere remotely done with you.

But, just for a moment, all that aside. This is, after all, an entry focused on a hotel, not the city.

Mums Restaurant and Bar at Hotel Tomo

The decor extends through the attached Mums Restaurant and Bar.

To begin with, I love the concept of boutique hotels. For some, when they travel, a hotel is just a place to get some zzzzs. For me, if I am going to spend a chunk of cash to choose a home base during a trip, I think it’s great to have it be a place that I can’t get anywhere else. Drinking a latte from Starbucks is great; you know what you’re getting. Drinking a coffee from some random corner bookshop/coffee house/ pogo stick emporium is really the sort of unique experience that got us into coffee to begin with. That and the caffeine. Caffeine definitely helps.

My point is, boutique hotels are exactly like that. So not only is Hotel Tomo located in one of the most amazing cities in the US, it’s a small boutique hotel with a delightful anime theme, bright colors, plush toys and magazines and murals furnishing each of the bedrooms. Oh, and they also have a Player’s Suite room with an 8×5 foot HDTV screen, a Wii and a PS3 right there in your hotel room.

And it’s in the middle of San Francisco’s Japantown. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know that San Francisco had a Japantown until I read about this hotel. According to the area’s website, it’s one of only three remaining Japantowns in the United States. I have no idea what it’s like, but I would love to find out. I know not everything Japan is geek-related, but no one could deny the enormous influence that Japan has had on geek culture: from animation to graphic novels to video games and beyond. And don’t deny it, US geek culture has such a massive crush on Japan, like they are both in junior high together, pulling each others’ hair and tripping each other in class. “Oh, Japan?” the US says. “Yeah, Japan is so weird. I so don’t totally have a massive crush on her giant robots, even if they do light up.” And Japan just keeps sending us awesomeness and building giant steampunk clocks and dares us to pay attention. And everyone watching just kind of rolls their eyes and tries to focus on the class instead of the two kids in the back slap-fighting and passing love notes.

My point is, whether Japantown is full of stores selling Hello Kitty sushi or an example of great historical and cultural significance, I think I’d like to check it out someday, and if I do, staying at a hotel playing Miyazaki movies and decorated with anime-style murals seems appropriate.

Guest room at Hotel Tomo

Murals throughout the hotel are by artist Heisuke Kitazawa.


Have you been there?

No. Not yet. San Francisco is nice, though, and I’ll be visiting there again someday…


How much will it cost me?

Room rates at Hotel Tomo start at about $92 a night, which for a San Francisco boutique hotel, is not that bad, in my opinion. Apparently this is a “budget hotel,” so if you are expecting full-service poshness instead of quirky charm, understand what you’re paying for. Check out TripAdvisor and weigh it against your own expectations.


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