Tonga Room

Field review by the editors.

San Francisco, California

After World War II, American appreciation of tiki culture blossomed like a mushroom cloud over a Pacific atoll. A world of faux-Polynesian clubs and restaurants helped create our current collective fetish for rustic island bars, carved idols and sweet drinks with umbrellas.

The Tonga Room, in San Francisco's opulent Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, offers an impressive old time Tiki vibe. The large basement level room started as the Fairmont's swimming pool. The pool was converted to the S.S. Tonga cruise ship theme restaurant in 1945, and transformed into the Polynesian-themed Tonga Room in the 1960s.

The Tonga Room is decorated with a profusion of bamboo, carved idol heads, and other cliched touches. Lights are strung between thatched roofs above poolside tables. The pool/lagoon features what appears to be a floating, open-sided boat; at 8 pm the band boards the boat to play island-appropriate music.

Patrons hang out in the Hurricane Bar, grab a plate of Happy Hour fare, or actually eat there (you can't really just walk in and gawk). The Tonga Room gets busy; reservations are recommended. Every hour on the hour there's an indoor rainstorm over the lagoon -- complete with lightning.

The Tonga Room is only open in the evening, so plan your visit accordingly.

Tonga Room

950 Mason St., San Francisco, CA
Fairmont Hotel, Mason St. and California St.
W, Th, Su 6-10, F-Sa 6-11. Bar W, Th, Su 5-11:30, F, Sa 5-12:30. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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