William May, the Famous Doorman at the San Francisco Fairmont

San Francisco's fabled doorman, William May.

Most people only notice service when it’s bad.

Because when it’s good, every need is anticipated so you never have to ask for anything.

William May prides himself on that kind of outstanding service.

For 26 years, he’s been the main doorman at the world-famous Fairmont San Francisco, the grand hotel where kings, queens and every U.S. president has stayed.

For many guests, he’s the first face to greet them when they visit San Francisco, setting the tone for the rest of their stay.

You might not think the position of doorman anything exceptional. But May has turned it into not only a skill, but an art form. In the process, the 60-year-old May has become as much of a  celebrity as the 105-year-old hotel atop Nob Hill, itself.

What’s more, on his days off from his demanding, full-time hotel job, he’s also managed to earn a bachelor’s of English from the University of California at Berkeley and to finish up a paralegal degree.

Learn more about this remarkable man and what a typical night is like working the entrance to the Fairmont in my profile story of him in the new issue of Food Arts magazine.

A grand hotel deserves a grand doorman.

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  • Awesome profile. It’s folks like May that makes SF such a world-class place to visit. 🙂

  • What a great article and a unique individual! At his age, with 25 years into this job, I bet he has A LOT of stories to tell. However, he seems like the type of person that would only tell the “nice” stories. He has learned a lesson that everyone should learn – “You can’t manage chaos!” I’ve been in education for 30 years and that is SO true! 🙂 Thanks for the link and the post! Enjoyed it!

  • A great profile & he looks like a charming man!

    I love that smile! Now, I am going to check out this fabulous hotel! thanks!

  • Okay, you’ve definitely caught my interest. I’ll be reading that article!

  • Just read it – great profile of a really interesting man!

  • What a wonderful story and a courageous man! I admired his effort in continuing study and broaden his knowledge!

  • I completely agree, people only notice that BAD service. This is such a great photo! Nice post =)

  • I have been driving a cab for 6 years in San Francisco. I stay in hotel’s line and drive around city, but I never seen so fake person in my life.
    I picked my customers up from Fairmont hotel. whatever he asked me and I did. After that, he called me angry person!. When he talks to Cab drivers, he always rude. Why some people have 2 faces?.
    If I don’t tip him, he gets mad…

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