House Bar at San Francisco’s The Battery
Social club. Boutique inn. Philanthropic organization. Art museum. Entertainment venue. San Francisco’s The Battery is each of these, packaged within one exceptional locale, making it one of the most interesting and exciting destinations in a city that inherently captivates.
Founded in 2013 by Michael and Xochi Birch with a goal to encourage and increase social interaction within a tech heavy society, The Battery celebrates its tenth anniversary with renewed vigor and increased significance. Having survived the public restrictions of the past few years while navigating the current era of remote work and digital discourse, the private members social club is thriving with an energetic membership hungry for joyful interactions, meaningful connectedness, and positive impact.
The Battery’s Penthouse Patio features San Francisco skyline views
And that membership, like San Francisco, is diverse. The Birch’s vision for The Battery was to bring together artists, authors, entrepreneurs, engineers and everyone in between in an evolving social experiment designed to engage and inspire participants to live fully, and to give back—and give back they do. To date, The Battery’s club within a club, “Battery Powered,” has raised more than $31 million for 240+ nonprofit organizations. Designed to help members explore societal issues and share ideas, Battery Powered grants funds around group selected themes, such as housing and homelessness, women’s health and wealth, climate action, and childhood nutrition.
“From the very beginning, we strove to activate generosity among our members,” said Xochi Birch. “Battery Powered is an opportunity to help break down some of the barriers people feel when getting involved with philanthropy. Impediments might include feeling too young, not being able to give enough, or the fear of making a bad philanthropic investment. The Battery Powered model aims to create an easy place for members to give collectively so that the funds we put out there are meaningful. We are thrilled to see the enthusiasm around Battery Powered and we can’t wait to continue to grow and evolve as we enter our next decade.”
“I didn’t grow up in a family or a community where philanthropy was valued,” said nine year member Drew Wahl. “I’ve learned so much from the staff and the programming as a member of Battery Powered. Battery Powered has been super powerful (genuinely no pun intended) in helping to inculcate a sense of purpose and community participation in the Battery community. It’s one of my favorite parts of the club, and a reason I continue to renew every year.”
The Battery’s cozy Library features a backlit, pink onyx bar
Richly lacquered virid walls inspire the name for The Battery’s Green Room
While commitment to community is paramount at The Battery, the club is also simply an extremely cool place to just “be.” During the day, members are found working remotely within the 58,000-square-foot, five story, former candy factory that features a restaurant (serving outstanding cuisine at breakfast, lunch, and dinner), an outdoor garden overlooking the Transamerica Building, a library, varied event spaces, and several spirited bars. Come 6pm, laptops are closed, and the social aspect fully kicks-in. (The Battery favors personal connections over social-media connections; cell phones and laptops are to be used sparingly.) On any given night, the club offers a variety of entertaining programming, including live music, DJs, lectures, interviews, film screenings, author readings, comedy and cabaret shows, dance performances, wine and spirit tastings, dinners, and holiday and family-friendly events.
“We’re fans of the village pub, where everyone knows everyone,” said Michael Birch. “A private club can be the city’s replacement for the village pub, where you, over time, get to know everyone and have a sense of emotional belonging. With The Battery, we wanted to create a beautiful yet comfortable space that ignites the imagination.”
The Battery House Bar dining room features sea-faring decor
Renowned interior designer Ken Fulk transformed the historic building into something visually engaging and beautiful. The aura is familiar and comfortable. “As if it may have been there all along,” said Fulk, who is known for his colorful and fanciful style. He’s married traditional with avant-garde, taking inspiration from England’s traditional social clubs, San Francisco’s historic Barbary Coast, and the Birch’s own fantastic contemporary art collection that includes a rotation of paintings, drawings, prints, photography, and sculpture. The result is a cozy, lived-in, whimsical interior that inspires.
The club’s focal point is the monumental House Bar, with restaurant seating for 120, and a menu celebrating the bounty of California. Executive Chef Brandon Hicks’ menu balances classic club fare with elevated modern cuisine, and a wine list of 1,600 unique labels from around the world promises the perfect pairing for every entrée. Start the evening with a crafted cocktail made with high end house spirits, such as the club’s own bespoke bourbon made within Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace distillery. For a venue on a smaller scale, The Living Room features intimate seating areas and its own small yet spectacular bar, Penrose, where classic black and white photography contrasts with Mondrian-esque colored walls. The Garden offers al fresco dining and summer concerts with a city skyline backdrop. The second floor is home to the Musto Bar, clad in the club’s signature black-and-white cerused oak. Wave a hand over the Winston Churchill bust on the bookcase to reveal The Green Room, a private space with richly lacquered walls and seating upholstered in lampas print—a nod to Fulk’s love of haberdashery. Around the corner, the floral oasis Library invites guests to cozy up to the pink onyx bar for a sip while listening to live jazz. And up top, a 6,200 square foot Penthouse offers the club’s largest event space, featuring a modern indoor living area and outdoor terrace that boasts spectacular skyline views. It’s ideal for intimate weddings.
One of The Battery Hotel’s 14 sumptuous guest rooms
The Battery Hotel guest room detail
One of The Battery’s greatest secrets is that non-members can enjoy all of this simply by booking one of the club’s 14 sumptuous hotel rooms. (Members enjoy a special discount for themselves, and can offer a smaller discount to friends and family.) Part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) brand, The Battery Hotel provides its guests full access to the club’s facilities, restaurants, bars, and events during their stay. There is simply no other hotel venue like it in the city. Each luxurious room (in hues of either cognac or blue) is unique, and detailed with custom furnishings, eclectic artworks, and vintage pieces, all impeccably curated by Fulk. Large Japanese soaking tubs, luxury bath amenities, and minibars stocked with snacks and deluxe sized spirits add to the posh vibe. And who doesn’t appreciate the delivery of Maldon salt-topped, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies at turndown?
The Battery reception desk
To join The Battery, nomination by a current member is necessary. Once nominated,prospective members are invited to fill out an application, attend an open house, and await approval. The cost to join is $2,800 per year ($1,600 for under 30), plus a $1,000 one-time initiation fee.
For The Battery membership information, click here.
For hotel reservations, email email@example.com, click here, or call 415.230.8000
Photos by Douglas Friedman, courtesy of The Battery
The Battery, 717 Battery St., San Francisco, CA