3 Days and counting! Staying in the Gaslamp during Comic-Con was one of the best decisions our group has ever made years ago. We used to choose affordability over proximity but we made the plunge to fully immerse ourselves in the SDCC experience- 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, if you are fortunate to get a Gaslamp hotel, it’s not always smooth sailing. With tens of thousands of rabid fans descending on several dozen 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.
Early bird gets the…
I always arrive in 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 jeopardy resulting in getting placed at another hotel. A big mistake is to participate in the Con and check in after a long day- thus increasing your chances of your room getting sacrificed. 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. One 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. Someone from each room has to be present in order for the hotel to do this. They will not naturally put your party together. If you check in late, it is not likely you will get placed together. We forgot this one year and our party was spread out over three floors making it hard to connect.
When being 2nd is a good thing
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. The downside is that there might be more street level and lobby noise. On the contrary, if you are on a higher floor, you might want to request being closer to the elevator so you don’t have to trek all the way down the hall and around the corver. But the disadvantage is…
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, bringing ear plugs is always a good idea. Btw, some elevators are themed out for certain shows- they make great photo ops!
Some hotels will provide a small fridge upon request- sometimes for a charge. If you have a condition that requires keeping medication or baby formula to be refrigerated then you will definitely want to make this request. Checking in early is the key before they all get taken up. Typically if you have a medical condition, they make it a priority to accommodate you if you request it early.
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.
The key is…
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 for free!
Is this spot taken?…
Make sure to be in the know about how much your hotel charges for parking and internet. Parking can be $30+ a day which is pretty outrageous. Ideally, 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.
Nothing worst than getting home after a long day and you realize there is no room to plug in your phone or iPad. To prevent this, make sure to bring extension cords and power strips. Hotels are notorious for having limited outlets in their rooms (safety purposes), They are also usually located in hard to reach spots too. If you are sharing a room with your friends make sure you are ready for your power demands.
Parties and Events
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. For example, the Omni has the Game of Thrones Experience, the Marriott Marquis has the Nintendo Lounge, and the Manchester is hosting the X-Box Lounge. Check my Offsite Events page for events at your hotel. If you can crash them, they are not only a source of food/drinks but an opportunity to hang with some celebs.
Lastly, familiarize yourself with the SDMTS Trolley route that goes all around downtown and into neighboring areas like National City and Chula Vista. The trolley is super convenient and stops right in front of the convention center.
This year, I am staying at the Hilton Bayfront for my second year! So i hope to incorporate some of these tactics. Hope these tips helped and make sure to check my past Tip of the Day posts. 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 days!
Burning question: Hypothetically, if a person were lucky enough to get a room at the MMM in the tower with the Conan wrap, would this person be able to see out the window? You know, hypothetically.
Hypothetically yes! The material is a see through mesh. While it looks solid on the outside, it’s hardly noticeable from the inside. Good question though!
We stayed at the MMM last year and could easily see the Simpsons wrap on the building. Staying at the MMM this year and hopefully the same holds true.
Good to know!
SDMTS has a super convenient app for smartphones that allow you to buy tickets for the trolley system during the Con.
Oh cool, thanks for that!
I’ll be staying at the Hilton Bayfront and they charge extra for a view overlooking the city. Any chances they’d be able to upgrade me for free if I show up at check-in early?
No, on the Bayfront they book all those rooms first so you probably won’t be able to upgrade. But never hurts to ask!
I’m getting in Monday night. So I should be able to get a room with 2 doubles instead of 1 King, I hope?
That early I would imagine so!
I stayed at the Manchester Grand Hyatt last year and managed to secure a fridge and a microwave – I think each was about $20 for the whole stay (I stayed 6 nights). But the fridge was only ok for beverages, it had a label stating the lowest temperature, which wasn’t cold enough to keep food fresh. If you need to keep medication at a certain temperature, be careful! This year I arrive Monday night (at MMM) so hoping (like bunster10) I can get 2 doubles instead of 1 king.
How early did you book the hotel? I thought they don’t open to public
I did it through the Comic-Con reservation system- Travel Planners.
We’re at the Gaslamp Marriott this year. We stayed at the Hyatt last year. Both hotels involve a trek to/from the CC. People should just be aware that just because you are staying downtown, it doesn’t mean you can just roll out of bed and get in line (although I am sure some do. LOL) It does take time to get from place to place, so peeps should plan accordingly. That being said, it is AWESOME staying downtown!