Semper fidelis, the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps, is writ large at the MARINES’ MEMORIAL CLUB in downtown San Francisco, a members’ club where military service is honoured and tradition meets modernity.
It’s not often one gets the opportunity to stay in what is essentially a living memorial and enjoy first-class hospitality, but that is exactly what awaits guests at the Marines’ Memorial Club, located at the heart of Union Square in bustling downtown San Francisco. In 1946, the Marines’ Memorial Association took over what had been the Western Women’s Club building and established the Marines’ Memorial Club as the very first “Living Memorial” in the United States, dedicated as a “tribute to those who have gone before; and to provide a service to those who carry on.” All twelve floors of the building honour the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The halls of the Marines’ Memorial Club, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in November 2021, are lined with historical and emotional remnants of the past – photos, medals, plaques and interactive exhibits, which thousands of visitors admire each year. In fact, the club is considered one of the best San Francisco museums for military artefacts.
Visitors walk through a wrought iron gate into an arcade surrounded by memorabilia dating all the way back to 1775. The centrepiece of the lobby is the ship’s bell from the USS San Francisco, which supported the Marines’ Sailors and Airmen in the Pacific Theatre in World War II, most notably in the Battle for Guadalcanal in November 1942 and Pearl Harbor. Anyone who has served honourably in the U.S. Armed Forced is eligible for membership of the non-profit veterans’ organisation that runs the club. The organisation currently has around 20,000 members, with benefits including preferential rates at the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel, a wide range of events and lecture series, as well as invitations to the annual ball and holiday parties. It also provides scholarships for exemplary students from military families.
Marines’ Memorial Hotel Union Square is a 10-minute walk to Powell Street BART station, which provides service to San Francisco International Airport. Chinatown is 12 minutes’ walk away. Situated in a stunning California Spanish Revival townhouse built in 1926, the club boasts an impressive architectural heritage and nostalgically elegant decor. The Marines’ Memorial Hotel offers 138 first-class guestrooms, elegant and spacious suites, a rooftop restaurant and bar, the 564-seat Marines’ Memorial Theatre, once home to the legendary Actors’ Workshop, and ballrooms for meetings and special events. Its location and amenities make the club the perfect choice for leisure travel, social gatherings and reunions as well as corporate meetings and events – and welcomes club members and guests.
The 138 beautifully appointed bedrooms and suites are located on the 3rd to 9th floors of the building. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, luxury bath products, and a full American breakfast. Guests are also entitled to use the hotel business centre. Through an arrangement with nearby Club One, guests have access to the indoor lap pool, steam rooms, modern equipment, exercise studios and massage treatment rooms. The hotel is committed to environmentally sustainable initiatives and takes pride in being one of the leading green hotels in San Francisco. The “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” principle is at the heart of many of its practices, which include a paperless front office, energy efficiency and a bulk water service for guests and employees.
On the second floor, immediately adjacent to the theatre, is The Flying Leatherneck Lounge. The bar features all kinds of exhibits honouring Marine aviators, including memorabilia, pictures and aircraft models. The lounge is a great place to enjoy a cocktail and chat with members. The Marines Memorial Theatre is the location for concerts, lectures, specially produced plays and shows.
Due to its central location, the club is the ideal venue for business meetings. All conference suites have high ceilings, elegant crystal chandeliers, large windows and tons of natural light, some with views of Union Square and downtown. The dedicated staff are consummate experts and can provide everything required for all kinds of conventions, from meetings for 300 people, smaller seminars or functions, including state-of-the-art technology and catering.
The hotel also offers a choice of dining and bar options. Located on the 12th floor is Chesty’s Bar & Grill, named in honour of Marine Corps legend, Lt Gen Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine in American history. The restaurant is open daily from 7.30am to 9.30pm and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the same floor is the Leatherneck Steakhouse, which provides stunning views of the city. The Chesty Puller Bar on the 2nd floor has an extensive wine and cocktail list, and there is a daily Happy Hour for hotel guests. There are also dozens of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues within easy walking distance of the hotel.