For those of you that have survived the Comic-Con badge gauntlet over the past few months, your registration journey will complete with the Hotel Sale on March 24 at 9 am pst. I know it feels like we have been waiting a long time but this is over two weeks earlier than last year’s reg date! Unless you are a Jedi Master, this can be an intimidating experience and it can feel pretty daunting trying to choose a hotel just based on price or distance. For you first timers, here are a few details to consider when choosing a hotel for the Con (with my personal favorite is listed below too). Then a few ‘values’ to help you make your final decision.
- 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 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 details 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 March 24, it will be near impossible to find housing without having to drive in from Sea World or farther.
- Show me the money!: Price is usually where everyone starts. Comic-Con hotels range from $168-380 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 even more 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.
Now with the deets out of the way, let’s get onto the most important question- what do you value? In other words, what is the experience you are trying to get out of Comic-Con beyond just having fun and buying toys. I urge you to think hard on this- because many don’t. I know I didn’t early on and it negatively affected my stay. I am going to list a few value examples and I hope it helps shape your hotel choosing paradigm going into tomorrow sale.
Value #1: Commonality
Statement: “When I go to Comic-Con, I get to be among people just like me. I feel like I have come home…”
Maybe the most important value you are trying to experience at Comic-Con is immersing yourself in the nerd community. For you, the fun begins when it’s time start to meeting and getting to know some fellow fans. Perhaps you live in a part of the country where there is not a lot of geek outlets and you are hoping to make and build some deeper friendships. If that is the case then I would try the Hilton Bayfront ($299) or the Grand Manchester Hyatt ($282). The sprawling lobbies and multiple lounges are ideal for meeting new friends or meeting up with old internet ones. The Manchester will host some awesome special events but the Bayfront will have CC programming in the Indigo Ballroom. Plus the Bayfront has the amazing view of Hall H if your willing to pay extra. Despite the offerings, these are two ideal hotels to make connections and build friendships.
Value #2: Convenience
Statement: “I know what I am doing, why I am here, and what I need to accomplish…”
If you are not messing around and not wasting a fraction of your time while at Comic-Con, then the Marriott Marquis (above $296) might be right for you. As the only hotel that is adjacent to the convention center, the Marriott is literally next door to the action. If you are cosplayer, this is ideal if you have a cumbersome costume or plan on making a change midway through the day. It’s nice to avoid crossing the street and train tracks when in full armor or wearing something hot. This hotel is also ideal if you are hunting for Exclusives. It’s faster to line up and easier to drop off your goods. However, while the convenience of the Marriott is awesome- it also has it’s drawbacks. 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.
Value #3: Comfort
Statement: “This is the one time a year I get to relax, have fun, and be spoiled”
For me, Comic-Con is not a vacation- and my schedule and the stress has me on the move. However, if this truly is a vacation for you, then your hotel should reflect that. Staying at a nicer hotel with a great view and awesome amenities should be higher on your priorities. Consider my personal favorite, the Omni ($279), for not only the convenience but for getting a bit more pampered. Rooms are spacious, the pool area is amazing, the lobby is relatively quiet, and you can’t beat the view (my view pictured left). The convention side truly is breathtaking. Wired Cafe has also been hosting parties there. If you can get access, it’s an amazing place to lounge, get a snack, and rub shoulders with talent. As a bonus, a fair amount of celebs stay at the Omni- so if it’s good enough for Hollywood’s A-list, you should enjoy it too!
Value #4: Community
Statement: “I have pick up diapers at 8:00, feed the spouse at 9:00 and be at a panel at 10:00…”
For some of you, there are multiple agendas to deal with. Sure this is a Comic-Con trip but your semi-interested spouse, non-nerdy mother-in-law, and a cousin you don’t really like also decided to join you as well. Because of that, you need a location that can help you manage multiple needs. Because of this, you might consider the Westin Gaslamp ($267) of the Embassy Suites ($278). The Westin is centrally located with access to the Horton Plaza, theater, and restaurants. It really is ideal when managing a family. The Embassy Suites has a huge ‘suite’ set up with separate living room. Plus, it’s amazing complimentary hot breakfast is the best any hotel can offer. If you need space and food, this is the place to stay.
Value #5: Celebration
Statement: “My singular passion and dream is to be in a Hangover movie…”
Maybe for you, the party really starts when the Con ends. If that’s the case then I would suggest being at a hotel along 5th street. All the restaurants and bars along 5th are hopping all night long. The Hard Rock ($308-375) is the ultimate party location (it’s located just right of the 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. The Hard Rock has the highest probability to run into celebs and the crowds out front reflect that. The sky lounge also is the location for some of the hottest and exclusive parties of the week. The Hard Rock vibe really isn’t my thing but I can’t deny it’s appeal and allure. Just know what you are getting.
Value #6: Conserve
Statement: “I want to have a great experience but I have to work within my budget- period!”
If you have constraints, then don’t stress yourself out and over extend yourself. For many, a Comic-Con hotel is just a place to lay your head for a few hours and to unload swag. Finding a hotel a little farther out will be just fine as long as you use the Trolley Line. If Even though a hotel has shuttle service is listed, I would not depend on it because of all the Comic-Con demand and the bad traffic in the morning. 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 WAY 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.
There you have it: Commonality, Convenience, Comfort, Community, Celebration, and Conserve. Well I hope these 6 Values will help you determine which hotel is right for you. Sometimes just price and proximity is not enough to help you make the right decision. By choosing a value that is in alignment with what you hope to get out of Comic-Con, it will increase your chances of having a fantastic and memorable experience. I encourage you to splurge on yourself and spend as much as you can on a hotel. You never know if you’ll get another chance to return so go into this year with no regrets. I know many of you have your hotel preferences so share them by commenting below. Thanks and happy hunting tomorrow!