For those of you that have survived the SDCC gauntlet over the past few months, your sights are now on the Hotel Registration on February 26. However, if you haven’t been to Comic Con or San Diego, it can feel like you are choosing a hotel with your blast shield down on your helmet. Unless you are a Jedi Master, it can be an intimidating experience. For you noobies, here are a few things to consider when choosing a hotel for the Con (with my personal favorite too):
- Make a list and check it twice: Here is the list of hotels to choose from. The Hotel Reservation system allows you to input 6 hotels ONLY. In the past, you could input up to 20 hotels but not this time. Consider that many will try and get the 6 closest hotels- so this might increase your chances of getting a hotel a little farther out. Make sure to thoroughly review all the info on the CCI Hotel Registration page for deposit info, deadline, restrictions, etc.
- Plan B: Book a back up hotel BEFORE the SDCC Hotel Registration begins. Besides the fact that your desired hotel(s) could sell out, any number of things could go wrong. So I would book a back up hotel that you can cancel without penalty. After Feb 26th, it will be near impossible to find housing without having to drive in from next parsec.
- Show me the money!: Price is usually where everyone starts. SDCC hotels range from $149-357 based on location and quality. Generally speaking, the higher the price the closer the location to the convention center. Normally these same rooms would go for twice as much so going through the Comic-Con reservation is worth the hassle. At this point, you won’t be able to find anything in the same area for near the same price. If you are constrained by a budget, then set your price and stick to it.
- Is closer better?: The location of your hotel can really affect your SDCC experience in a positive or negative way. Many people assume that getting the adjacent Marriott (Pictured above: $296/n, adjacent) would be ideal. While the location is certainly convenient, a hotel that close might not be what you are looking for. If you are new to San Diego, you will discover that it is the ideal city to host a crazy event like this. However, as awesome as Comic Con is, you will get stir crazy being locked up in the con center for 10+ hrs. The last thing you will want to do is walk more than you have to. At the end of each day, a million attendees pour onto the streets like undead zombies in search of food. This search could take you pretty far from the Marriott (or other nearby hotels) forcing you to walk 6-10 blocks to a less crowded restaurant. After a late night dinner and a few drinks, you might not want to walk all the way back to the con center every night. In the past, I have booked hotels that were closer to desired restaurant. That way, after a night out on the town, we just had to walk a block to get home. Believe me, you don’t know exhaustion until you experience ‘Comic Con exhaustion’. By booking a place in the heart of downtown, it will actually half your walking distance each day- that is unless you plan on eating ALL your meals at the Marriott. Plus, the trek to Hall H, through crowds, from the Marriott is like a marathon.
- High Maintainance: Speed and proximity might not be your highest priority. You may have needs that are going to require having more resources at your disposal. A central location like the Westin Gaslamp (Pictured above: $239/n, 5 blocks) might be more suitable for you. It’s located in a shopping center in the Gaslamp called the Westfield Horton Plaza. There are tons of restaurants, stores, Starbucks :), and a movie theater all adjacent to the plaza. If you are attending with family or friends that are not hardcore into Comic Con, this would be an ideal location for you.
- The Hangover Comic-Con style: Maybe for you, the party really starts when the Con ends. If that’s the case then I would suggest being at a hotel near 5th street. This is the main artery of the Gaslamp (pictured above). All the restaurants and bars along 5th st are hopping all night long. The Hard Rock ($299-357/n, 1 block) is the ultimate party location (it’s located just right of the above pic). The festivities never end there. One warning though, if you are prone to sensory overload, then the Hard Rock after a crazy day at the Con might not be best for you. It’s a loud hotel and a good nights rest might be ‘hard’ to come by. However, it’s a great place to run into celebs :)
- Hall ‘H’ is for Hilton: If you are going to SDCC primarily for movies then expect to spend your days in the infamous Hall H. This is the biggest hall where Hollywood pay homage to Comic Con by presenting all the big movies of the year. It’s by far the longest wait for any of the panels. As a result, the Hall H line forms fast and early (and now overnight!). If this is important to you, then I would suggest the Hilton Bayfront (Pictured above: $295/n, 1 block). If you request the convention center side, then you will be overlooking the ‘grassy knoll’ of Hall H (the above pic). You can not only wake up each morning to monitor the lines but you will have the quickest route than any other hotel. Timing is everything with Hall H and just walking from the other side of the con center (like from the Marriott) could mean you are thousands of people behind where you want to be. If movies are your thing, then target the Hilton.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day: For some of you, breakfast is a non-negotiable and the weeny ‘continental breakfast’ that some hotels have to offer just aint gonna cut it. You also don’t want to fight the enormous restaurant lines in the morning in order to make it to the Con. If you are in search of a power breakfast morning then I would suggest the Embassy Suites (Pictured above: $249-289/n, 4 blocks). Hands down, it offers the best breakfast than any other hotel (pictured above). It’s free, fast, and hot. They offer custom made omelettes, waffles, meats, and much more. Their buffet allows you to start your Con day with a smile. Their hotel is nice too with separate living room and kitchenette. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite places to stay when I travel.
- Trolley option: Even though shuttle service is listed, I would not depend on it because of all the Comic Con demand and the bad traffic in the morning. So find a hotel that is close to the trolley. It’s easy and runs right in front of the con center. By using the Trolley, you can save money by picking a hotel farther away. One year I stayed at a hotel right next to the Bayfront stop in National City. It was cheaper and it only took our party 15 mins to get to the Con. Check the SDMTS trolley route for locations near your desired hotel.
- Celebrity sightings: Most of the nicer hotels near the con center will host celebs. If you are into that then the adjacent Marriott, Hard Rock, Omni, Hilton, or the W will be the place to be. There have been some epic stories of fans hanging at the hotel bar or riding the elevator with their favorite celeb. This could be you.
- Odds and ends: You also want to call ahead to find out how much your desired hotel charges for parking each day if you have a car- some can be ridonkulously expensive. If you are alone and want to go as cheap as possible, try a local hostel. You also may want to Twitter your desire to share a room. I know it’s a little risky but it might be worth it if you are on a tight budget.
- WWGD: What would Google do? Do your diligence and read reviews of hotels on search engines.
And for my personal favorite is…
The Omni Hotel! (Yes, that is me longingly gazing at the convention center) I like being more in the heart of the action so I prefer not be in the convention bubble with the Hilton or Marriott. The Omni is across the street from the Hard Rock and next door to Tin Fish. It overlooks the convention center giving you a birds eye view of Hall H as well as lines into Ballroom 20 (My roommate last year would wake up every hour and look out the for lines before running down). Besides the incredible view, events are hosted there during Comic-Con. The Wired Cafe event provided a pimped out daily pitstop for us as well as for some celebs. I was very pleased and would love to stay there again this year. Plus, I met Robert Kirkman and Guillermo Del Toro!
I hope this helps you if you are a newb to Comic Con. I know I might have missed some other great tips so if you are a Con veteran then please leave me your suggestions. See you online on Feb 26 and happy hunting!