Recently I asked for advice about hotels for JavaOne, or really any conference held at the Moscone Center. Surprisingly although over the last ten years I’ve become intimately familiar with Silicon Valley and can tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the San Jose or Santa Clara convention centers and surrounding areas, I haven’t been to any shows at the Moscone Center for almost ten years. In fact, I think the last one would have been Software Development 99 West just before that show moved south to San Jose. For that trip I stayed at the Phoenix Inn, which is a reasonably cheap, clean, and funky hotel in the Tenderloin district. It was nice enough, if you didn’t mind a bit of a hike or a bus ride to the convention center in the morning. However, I thought JavaOne might be a little more intense so I decided I’d like to stay somewhere closer, and asked for advice. Here’s what I found out.
Frank Wilhoit recommended “the Pickwick on the corner of Fifth and Mission opposite the old Mint. Cheap and comfortable.” However he cautions that he hasn’t been there since 1994 so “who knows what may have happened in the meanwhile.”
Michael Buckley also likes The Pickwick:
some well-worn charm, and was an easy walk from the Moscone buildings. My wife joined me for a long weekend after and thought it was cute.
I stayed there last year for $129 a night (yes, my employer paid the bill).
- OK in the right spots. There is just too much metal and brick for perfect reception in the room
- so-so. But why eat at the hotel in SF?
- friendly. Booked an airport shuttle for us back no trouble.
- easy walk to Market and the subway/BART. I took the BART in from SFO.
- on the edge of the edge. We had no fear walking about after midnight, but the tenderloin isn’t far.
Trip Advisor reviews of this hotel are mixed.
Eddie O’Neil the Hotel Triton, “a few blocks from Moscone across the street from Chinatown. It’s a Kimpton Hotel so it has personality (quirky rooms) and a nice feel to it. Depending on the week, a room can be had for as low as $130 / night, which is great for the city. They also have free wifi, though its quality can vary from room to room.”
Trip Advisor reviews are mostly positive.
Derek Foight tells me to “Try the Hotel Palomar. It is a small boutique hotel that I have enjoyed staying at when traveling to San Francisco. It is across the street from the Apple store and only a block from Moscone.”
Martin Solum seconds the recommendation for the Palomar with one small caveat: “clean and inexpensive, it caters to independent recording artists (since it is associated with a small studio). It is tree hugger friendly as it makes donation to some environmentally positive organization). The beds are those Tempur-Pedic jobs that are great for my back. (one bad thing, last time I stayed there they had no morning coffee, I had to walk around the block to the IHOP which isn’t really the right way to start my day).” I’m not a big morning coffee person, and I don’t mind IHOP, so this may be the one for me. However, it’s a little more than I hoped to pay at $229 a night.
Trip Advisor reviews for the Palomar are good.
Silum also suggests The King George, a couple of blocks from Moscone but “actually a better location because it is right in the heart of the theater district just around the corner from union square. It is a couple of doors away from several good clubs, (e.g. Biscuits and Blues) and several theaters (live theater, not merely movies ), and also has four 24 cafe’s within a block of the front door. It is very clean and yet inexpensive with great service. It caters to European guests so you are sure to meet someone interesting at the hotel’s sponsored tea time. (one bad thing, the beds are too soft)” I like a firm bed, and I’m not much on socializing with non-geek strangers so I think I’ll pass on this one.
Frederic Lavigne tells me, that his “company usually picks the Monticello Inn, itâ€™s very close to the Moscone Center â€“ was around 120$ per night IIRC.” Sounds good, but they don’t have any rooms for my dates.
David “Uncle Dave” Moffat reports that “My wife, daughter and I have stayed at the Grant Hotel — really cheap” They are, however, booked solid for my dates. I suppose I should have done this sooner.
Vince Ford “Stayed at the Powell St Hotel last year. The room was small but nice and clean. The rest of the hotel was kind of gray and not so great but I wasn’t planning to spend much time there either way. It was near Moscone Center and BART.” They also don;t have any rooms available for me.
Norwood Sisson “used to stay at the Mar Motel near the beach and take the N Judah trolley downtown, no transfer needed; the trolley terminates in front of the Ocean View Motel. You can walk on the beach or Golden Gate Park in the morning and then do downtown all day and evening although there are decent enough restaurants in the Sunset district also. The Mar seems to have changed names to Ocean View Motel.” That sounds like the most fun, but if I stayed there I’m afraid I’d be too tempted to spend all my time in the park, at the Zoo, and on the beach, and wouldn’t get to the conference. I am wondering if maybe though I should switch hotels to this location on Friday. It would be more convenient for birding.
What to do? What to do? The cheap hotels ($129 a night and less) are all further away than I’d like, except for one that’s really cheap and really scummy, from what Trip Advisor tells me. The Pickwick is too expensive for my dates, about $200 a night. Otherwise I might have picked it. I took a gamble on Priceline for a four-star hotel at $119 a night in Union Square East. They tell me,
We searched hundreds of options to find your hotel room, however we can’t accept your offer of $119 per room, per night…If you are willing to raise your price by $22, you can try the same request again right now.
I bet they have something at that price. Do I go for it? The alternative is the Hotel Triton at $169 a night. You know what? I’m not. I don’t trust Priceline enough, and I can book the Phoenix again for $119 a night. It’s a little further away than I’d like, but I know it’s acceptable and I don’t know that about what Priceline gives me. Plus I can cancel the Phoenix up to 48 hours before if I need to or find something better, and I can’t cancel Priceline’s hotel. To top it off, Priceline charges my credit card today so I have to pay it early next month, but the Phoenix won’t charge me till next month, so I should be paid for the trip before the credit card bill comes due. The Phoenix Inn it is.
But you know what? Looking at the map, the Oceanview Motel is far more convenient for what I have planned for the weekend, and it’s quite a bit cheaper. I’m going to make this trip a twofer. I’ll stay at the Phoenix Sunday-Friday, then cab it over to the the Oceanview Motel for the weekend. That will give me great access to the beach, Golden Gate Park, Land’s End, Sutro Heights, and the other places I want to go.
Two tools that were very useful for making my decisions were TripAdvisor to tell me what each hotel was like and Google Maps to show me just how I’d have to walk from the hotel to the convention center. Without them I would have been a lot more nervous about my decisions. I was a little surprised to discover that some of the hotels Sun was offering were actually further away than the Phoenix (the cheapest ones, naturally).
See you in San Francisco. If you have any further advice about these or other Moscone Center hotels, please leave a comment.