417 Gough Street
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Hayes Valley Inn, Home away from home
One of the common things that visitors to the Hayes Valley Inn have to say about the place is that it is inexpensive. And that it belongs to one of the most creative, coolest neighborhoods in San Francisco. Or that the beds are comfortable, and the breakfast is a great spread.
And all these things are true. But the way people most often describe the Inn is “home.” The reality is that whenever anyone is traveling, the place they stay is their home for the time they are there. Most of us forget this, however, because we often are not treated this way in hotels.
The feeling of home at the Inn comes from a thousand little details and a few major attitudes: An atmosphere of genuine friendliness, from both staff, who will lend you their own umbrellas on a rainy day or mail back forgotten items on their days off, and guests, who get into easy conversation with one another, sometimes in their robes at breakfast. A relaxed attitude, with the diverse array of breakfast items and cookies from tea being left out late, so people don’t feel like they have to race to make a deadline to eat. A sense of comfort, which comes as much from the décor that makes you feel like you’re sitting at your friend’s house as it does from the fact that you are always greeted at the entry by someone in the office, and sometimes, by a soft black-and-white dog.
The Inn has experienced a transformation in recent years; one rooted not in new decor or staff but all thanks to Spot, our general manager Stephanie’s beloved border collie. Guests who have met him, always greet us with “Hi! Where’s Spot?” even before “how are you?” Far from being surprised at this, we come to expect it because that is the effect Spot always had on people. Now, we are saddened to share that Spot is no longer with us, but his memory and spirit will be a lasting part of the Inn and its community and for this we are thankful.
From the day he arrived at the Inn, Spot could be found at his place of honor at the top of the stairs, equal parts guard dog and gracious host welcoming new and familiar faces. Anyone up for a game of ball or tug of war found a ready playmate in Spot. In the neighborhood, everyone knew Spot and would greet Stephanie as “Hey! You’re Spot’s mom!” His intelligence, his lively, energetic spirit, and his profound loyalty created a lasting impression on everyone who met him.
In the past year or so, Spot has been seen less and less at the Inn; his health problems, understandable in a fourteen-year-old, made the Inn’s stairs a difficult trek for him. Even as he suffered from serious health issues, his positive attitude remained unchanged. But his presence continues to be felt, in the hotel staff who loved him and the guests who still inquire about him. His open, loving nature and joyful exuberance have become a part of who we all are together and thus the Inn as it is now is Spot’s legacy; one we are honored to carry on. We love you, Spot.