Tip of the Day #5: Which Hotel is Right for You?

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For those of you that have survived the Comic-Con registration gauntlet over the past few months, your sights are now on the Hotel Registration on April 8 at 9 am PT. However, if you haven’t been to Comic-Con or San Diego before, it can feel pretty daunting trying to choose a hotel just based on price or distance. 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 is listed below too)

  • Make a list and check it twice: Here is the list of hotels to choose fromThe Hotel Reservation system allows you to input 6 hotels ONLY (in order of preference). Consider that many will try and get the 6 closest hotels- so you may consider 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 Comic-Con Hotel Registration begins tomorrow. 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 April 8th, 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. Comic-Con hotels range from $152-375 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 during this week 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.

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Is Next Door Better?
The location of your hotel can really affect your Con experience in a positive or negative way. Many people assume that getting the adjacent Marriott Marquis (above $296/n) 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 forcing you to walk a few 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 the heart of the Gaslamp. 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 center of downtown, it will actually half your walking distance- that is unless you plan on eating ALL your meals at the Marriott. Plus, the trek to Hall H, through crowds, from the Marriott feels like a marathon. It’s an awesome choice but not necessarily as convenient as you might think.


High Maintenance
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.

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Gaslamp
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. All the restaurants and bars along 5th st are hopping all night long. The Hard Rock ($308-375/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 :)

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Hall ‘H’ is for Hilton
If you are going to Comic-Con primarily for movies then expect to spend your days in the infamous Hall H. This is the biggest hall where Hollywood pay homage to the nerds 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: $299/n, 1 block). If you request the convention center side, then you will be overlooking the ‘grassy knoll’ of Hall H. You can wake up through out the night to monitor the lines and 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 Marquis) could mean you are thousands of people behind where you want to be. As a bonus, the Hilton Bayfront offers great programming in the Indigo Ballroom!


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: $254-314/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 hotel is nice too with separate living room and kitchenette. Embassy Suites it’s one of my favorite places to stay when I travel.original-comic-con-enders-game-entry1-2013_s4x3_lg
The Experience
Last year I stayed at the Hilton Gaslamp Quarter ($230/n). It is right across the street from the convention center and it’s connected to a couple of interactive areas. Last year, the Ender’s Game experience was right in front of the hotel. There was also a mini-shopping area inside as part of the retro gaming arcade- which leads out to the Gaslamp. A lot of people don’t know about this area and I consider it a fun little gem. This is the most affordable in the ‘inner-circle’ of the prime location hotels. Best option for the price.


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. Another option is to 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 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 you will want the adjacent Marriott Marquis, Hard Rock, Omni, and the Hilton Bayfront. 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…
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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 Bayfront or Marriott Marquis. The Omni Hotel ($269/n) is across the street from the Hard Rock and next door to Tin Fish restaurant. 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, sometimes events are hosted there during Comic-Con. I was very pleased and would love to stay there again this year. Plus, I met Robert Kirkman and Guillermo Del Toro there in the past!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 the morning of April 8 and happy hunting!

14 thoughts on “Tip of the Day #5: Which Hotel is Right for You?

  1. Tony, again an outstanding entry. Very helpful for new and returning kids. best way to see celebs is to hang out in front of the Hard Rock. Celebs pull in in their SUV’s and walk in. They usually sign a few autographs. Pics with them are impossible.

  2. Thanks again, Tony! This is a very informative blog post. I’ve only been to the Con twice so far, but choosing the right hotel is SO important! I’ve stayed both close in and far out and I don’t know what I’m going to try to get this year.

  3. Does anyone know if you MUST purchase a 2-night stay at these hotels? The SDCC site says you need to have deposit for 2-nights in order to get the reservation. So if I only need one night, do I deposit for 2-nights, and then my money back for that extra night I don’t need? How does this work? THANKS

    • I am not positive, but I think that you could book a one night stay, and you would only have to pay the one night plus tax. The two nights deposit is for those who are staying at least two nights, so you wouldn’t have to pay for more than what your stay is.

      You might be better off booking a few nights, though. You should be able to change the details (nights, occupants, etc) of your stay through Travel Planners, so I don’t think you’d have a problem shortening your stay later on.

      And there is always the option of a roommate! You could find someone who needs a room for the weekend, and let them have the room for that time and share it with them for the one night you want it. That would lower your cost too, if you’re splitting the room with someone who will pay half the cost of your night! (I know some great resources for this. If you are interested I’d be happy to link you and/or explain further!)

      Good luck! (:

  4. Pingback: San Diego Comic-Con Hotel Sale | Gender Biased Reviews

  5. Okay, so I got a hotel with the early bird special, the same day I got my Con tickets. It’s not the greatest location, but it’s on the trolley line, and I plan on doing lots else while in San Diego. This is my first Con – did I screw up taking advantage of the early bird? Should I wait for the free-for-all next time round and get a closer (albeit more expensive) hotel?

  6. Pingback: An Englishman In San Diego 2014, #2: "The Road To Hotelmageddon!" | An Englishman In San Diego

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