On picking your Hotel Day selections

22 MARCH 2015

By now you should have gotten your Hotel Day email with the link to Tuesday's sale. Did you pick your 6 hotels yet? Or are you lost in that colorful hotel list? Let's break down your options.

Hotel Pros and Cons

I already covered this a bit, but let's rehash.

Airport and Mission Valley hotels - You'll hear people moaning online that they got stuck out by the airport like it's a fate worse than death. But honestly, it's a room and that's all that matters. You'll save money not just on your room rate but also because you won't get sucked into that downtown vortex where bars and restaurants devour your cash on every block. When your hotel is a shuttle ride away from the Con, you tend to make more defined plans about when you eat, when you go out and when you go home - and it usually adds up to a more well-rested, budget-friendly experience. 

Wild card hotels - Hotel Del Coronado is a beautiful old-fashioned hotel right on the beach with amazing restaurants and a purported ghost; if you're traveling with a spouse or friends who aren't doing the Con, or just want to commune with the ocean each night, this is a great choice. Just be aware there's no shuttle for this and a few other hotels like The Dana.

Close or adjacent - the only truly adjacent hotel, as in right next door, is the Marriott Marquis. The Manchester Grand Hyatt is on the Marriott's other side, and the Hilton Bayfront is on the other side of the convention center, but with a lawn that serves as a Hall H campground in between. Also highly coveted are the Hard Rock and Omni across the street, and the Hilton Gaslamp. These hotels are already partially booked by studios and professionals and are the most popular and hard to get.

Gaslamp  - Hotels like Embassy Suites, the Bristol, Westin, Residence Inn Gaslamp, Horton Grand and Marriott Gaslamp are all in easy walking distance and put you in the thick of the action. As I said before, these can be even more convenient than the Marriott Marquis because you have so many places to eat, drink and go out right at the foot of your hotel. If your priority is to be downtown above all else, include at least a few of these on your list.


Transportation. The distance from the convention center is marked for each hotel, but what really matters is transportation. A hotel 6 miles out isn't that bad if it's on the shuttle route. (Both distance and shuttle service are indicated on the list.) Obviously you'll have access to cabs and the trolley, and there's a ferry from Coronado, but shuttles are still a nice option to count on - so be sure you check that on the form. Also familiarize yourself with other transportation options if you haven't yet done so.

Crossing the street. I realize this sounds ridiculous if you've never been to SDCC. An intersection is not a fearsome thing, right? Except that it is in front of the convention center. Lots of people, traffic, piercing guard whistles, unwanted fliers shoved into your hands - and of course, waiting. Obviously you need to just submit to it to get into the Gaslamp (unless you take the footbridge by the Hilton Bayfront) but if you see yourself frequently coming and going from your room to drop off your purchases, eat a snack or charge devices, it can be a hindrance.

The Marriott Marquis, Hilton Bayfront and Manchester Hyatt are all on the same side as the center. I also recommend the Hilton Gaslamp, which is on the other side of the street but lets you cross at a less crowded intersection.

Parking. If you're driving into San Diego, you'll pay a daily fee to garage your car at downtown hotels. Usually it's a little over $30/day.

Service. I tend to have good luck with hotels and restaurants, so no real complaints here. I've been treated like gold at the Marriott Marquis, Hyatt, Hilton Gaslamp and Omni in particular; I did have my car door lock broken by a valet at another hotel and they were an ass about it, but it was a long time ago so I won't drop names.

Amenities. If you care deeply about hotel fitness centers, saunas, pools and concierge services, I predict that you'll stop caring once you're at the Con. You'll just be too busy doing Con stuff to do more than enter, exit and sleep at your hotel. I'd say Marriott Marquis has my favorite pool, though the Hyatt's hot tubs are a little nicer, and the Hilton Bayfront has good poolside service. And yes, you can crash another hotel's pool.

Nightlife. The Hyatt's bar is famous for a reason - though the top bar is where the "influencers" are, as the suits say, and not the lobby bar. The W, Hard Rock and Solamar host their share of private parties. Hyatt and Marriott Marquis have had gaming events by day and gaming parties by night in recent years. Honestly, all of the big hotels usually have various bar dealings and public or private events, but it's nothing attendees should make a priority when it comes to picking hotels. And they're all close enough that you can travel to wherever you need to be.

Restaurants. As far as restaurants, Omni has McCormick & Schmick (one of my faves, especially for breakfast), Hard Rock has the Syfy Café (gimmicky, overpriced, but open late) and Nobu (expensive), the Marriott and Hyatt both have generic hotel restaurants I can never remember the names of but are decent, and Hilton Bayfront has that Fox Sports Grill that manages to always seat me super quick no matter how crowded they are. The downtown hotels are surrounded by restaurants - in general, you'll be surrounded by places to eat wherever you go so it won't really be an issue. Also, I predict food trucks will have a much larger presence this year.

Hotel Day strategies

If you're budget conscious, you're probably looking at price alone and that will inform your picks. Just remember that you need to be very disciplined about taking shuttles and not taxis or the room rate difference will vanish in a flash. If you sort of want to be budget conscious but the siren song of downtown is calling, please believe me when I tell you that you'll miss absolutely nothing by staying in Mission Valley or the airport. The shuttles run all night long. You'll save a few hundred dollars and have just as exciting a Comic-Con as everyone else.

If you do want to stay as close to the Con as possible, price be damned, you might be tempted to pick Marriott Marquis, Hilton Bayfront, Manchester Grand Hyatt, Omni, Hard Rock and Hilton Gaslamp. Here's the thing; everyone is picking those hotels so you're setting yourself up for failure. Because if none are available, a burned-out Travel Planners worker could send you to Humphrey's Half-Moon Inn. It's safer to mix your top-tier picks with less-desirable-but-still-ok hotels. 

Memorize the proper names of hotels. Which, to be fair, I have not used in this blog post. If you look for the Marriott Marquis you won't find it, because it'll be on the list as San Diego Marriott Marquis. Study the list and memorize the precise name of your hotel picks.

And finally, don't stress. The reality is, you already won the San Diego Comic-Con lottery. You are one of the extremely lucky few picked to walk inside the Con this July. Whatever hotel you collapse exhausted in each night is irrelevant. So hope for the best this Tuesday but try to be philosophical about wherever you end up. It really won't matter once you're there. 



  1. If your hotels are sold out can you pick 6 more?

    1. No, it doesn't work like that. When you log into the system, you'll pick 6 hotels, hit submit and that's it. It's done. The system won't report back to you or show you any statuses.
      Instead you'll later get an email listing the 6 you picked - and then within a few days, you'll get an email announcing where you landed. It could be one of the hotels you picked, it could be an entirely different hotel. If you don't like your hotel, you can wait for the system to open back up and then try to change rooms.

  2. Great article, thanks!

  3. If you managed to get your request in by 9:05 and three of your choices were the two Hiltons and the Omni, do you have a shot at getting any of your hotels, or is it as if it might as well been 9:05 tomorrow?

    1. You definitely have a shot. Don't get rattled by all that "submitted at 9:02!" tweets you'll see. Most of us ran into delays and slow loads this morning, and 9:05 is not that bad.