- They're relative bargains. (Under $300/night in San Francisco counts as a bargain.)
- They have character. Rooms all differ but they share a warmth and comfort level that make even standard rooms seem something nicer.
- The staff cares. Kimpton calls out its customer satisfaction and my experience has been that everyone, from front desk staff to bellmen, understand that this is the brand promise and that it's up to them to deliver on it.
- Location. They're all around Union Square, convenient to work, Moscone (if you're there for a convention), dining, transportation, etc.
- Dining options. I'm not sure if this formula was started in San Francisco but it certainly seems to be prevalent there. Pair up a boutique hotel with a trendy restaurant. The benefits if you're a hotel guest: room service that's way better than usual and preferred access if you want to dine in the restaurant. And the evening wine reception offers really good wine with the really eclectic Kimpton guests, always a good combination.
Kimpton has a rewards program though I stay at their hotels not because I can also earn loyalty points but because they're such a pleasure to stay at. And I've found that because I'm a member of their program, the properties have been very generous in giving me immediate recognition, with flexibility around room level (upgrades) and check-in/check-out times.
Negatives? In probably a dozen stays across several cities (SF, Seattle, Portland), I've never had anything that would count as negative. Predictably good stays at interesting properties at affordable rates? I like that formula.