Staying in the Gaslamp during Comic-Con was one of the best decisions our group has ever made. We used to choose price over proximity but we made the plunge to fully immerse ourselves in the SDCC experience a few years ago- and it was the best choice we ever made. At the end of a long day and starting early mornings, it was so nice to be a block or two from all the action. However, at a Gaslamp hotel doesn’t necessarily mean smooth sailing. With tens of thousands of rabid fans descending on 40 plus downtown hotels, it can lead to some pain and problems. Here are some tips to how best to prepare your hotel stay in downtown San Diego.
Check in Early
I always travel as early as possible and check in as soon as they will let me for one main reason. It’s not unheard of that a hotel will overbook putting your reservation at another (farther) hotel. A big mistake is to participate in the Con and check in after a long day- thus increasing your chances of getting screwed. Whether through too many reservations or getting lost in the system, you want to make sure you are inside your room with key in hand by early Wednesday if possible. Then you can breath a sigh of relief. Plus, if there is anything wrong with your room, this gives you an option to change.
A View to a Kill
Checking in early allows you to choose the best possible view. Last year, I stayed at the Omni and requested a view of the convention center. Besides being able to absorb Comic-Con from a birds eye view, I was able to watch the Hall H and Ballroom 20 lines as they formed all night. Taking advantage of this option will give you a competitive edge over the rest. So if you are staying at the Omni, Hilton Bayfront, Hilton Gaslamp, etc, make sure to request this early.
If you are traveling in a group, make sure you request adjacent rooms on the same floor or you WILL NOT get it. They will not naturally put your party together. If you check in late, this will highly decrease your chances of getting placed together. We forgot this one year and our party was spread out over three floors making it a pain to connect.
2nd Floor Edge
If you really want a competitive advantage in the mornings, request a room closest to ground level. Being able to take a flight of stairs down will allow you to bypass the crowds for the elevators in the early morning. If you are claustrophobic or have a fear of crowds, this will help put your mind at ease as well.
Some hotels will provide a small fridge upon request for a charge. If you have a condition that requires keeping medication be refrigerated then you will definitely want to make this request. Checking in early is the key before they all get taken up.
Same as the refrigerator, if you want a roll away bed or crib, checking in early and requesting it will ensure you get one. Don’t order one then leave hoping it will be delivered. Wait for it then take off. Beds go EXTREMELY fast so do not wait if you need it.
If you don’t have a set of ear plugs or are a light sleeper, you may want to request being away from the elevators during Comic-Con. The crowds roll in during all hours of the night and can keep you from getting your well needed 3 hrs of beauty sleep. Depending on your hotel, you may also want to be higher up. Places like the Omni and Hard Rock have a lot of ground noise so make sure you request a room conducive to sleep. Plus, bring ear plugs is always a good idea.
One of the coolest pieces of swag during Comic-Con are the hotel keys. Themed with the latest properties, these make for awesome memorabilia from your trip. Warner Bros and DC Comics usually sponsor these and are only available at participating hotels. When you get your room key, usually the selection in not in sight. Request to see the options to get the one of your choice- or ask for all of them. During the Con, ask around to see what other hotels will offer. You may want to make your rounds collecting them too!
Make sure to be in the know about how much your hotel charges for parking and internet. Parking can be up to $30 a day which is pretty outrageous. Ideally if you can, commute into downtown by taking the TRAM. If you are coming from LA or Orange County this is easy and affordable. If you must drive, carpool with friends to share the parking expense. Remember, check overnight restrictions when if you attempt to park in a cheaper lot. Most do not allow for it.
If you are in one of the main hotels (Marriott, Hiltons, Omni, or Hard Rock), then be ready for a celeb sighting. Always have your camera/phone ready going into and exiting the hotel. Whether its riding the elevator or grabbing coffee, a celeb will pop up at the most inconvenient time. Most of them are cool with a quick pic as long as you are brief and polite. Be ready and don’t regret missing a photo opportunity.
Make sure to bring extension cords and power strips. Hotels are notorious for limiting outlets, I think its a safety thing for kids. If you want to charge your electronics in a convenient location, plan accordingly.
Lastly, if you are staying in one of the big main Gaslamp hotels do research on what events are happening during Comic-Con. Companies and studios will be hosting different parties day and night all week long. If you can crash them, they are not only great source of food/drinks but an opportunity to hang with some celebs. The Wired Cafe at my hotel last year was awesome hang out and provided some respite from a crazy show.
This year, I am staying at the Hilton Gaslamp for the very first time- so i hope to incorporate some of these tactics. Hope these tips helped. I know there are a lot of Comic-Con vets out there that can offer some more advice- comment below to let us know. See you in a few weeks!