Tag Archives: hotel

Comic-Con Hotel Review: Holiday Inn on the Bay

During Comic-Con we stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay (not to be confused with the Holiday Inn Bayside). It’s sort of in walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center (we did it one morning…and I did it again one evening after an incident with the shuttle that deserves its own write-up), but at more than a mile it’s not a distance you’d want to walk with a heavy backpack, or in a costume, or carrying bags, or on a hot afternoon, or after a long day of trudging around the convention center.

It’s located on the bay (of course), near the San Diego Maritime Museum where they have several classic ships permanently anchored and available for tours. If you happen to have an upper-floor room, the views are quite nice. (We were on the second floor, so our view was of the roof of the hotel’s conference center. It’s funny how quickly we got used to the sound of the air conditioner.)

It’s an easy walk to Little Italy (we went out to one of our favorite San Diego restaurants, Indigo Grill, on Wednesday) or the trolley, and on the convention shuttle route.

Holiday Inn RoomThe rooms were nice, clean and spacious (absolutely huge, compared to the last few places we’ve stayed in San Diego). The bed was comfortable, and they had pillows with two different levels of firmness, so neither of us had any trouble getting to sleep. The hotel restaurant/pub, the Elephant and Castle, is quite good. There’s also a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in one tower, and a deli next door. And for those looking to save money on breakfast, the in-room coffee service is a single-cup disposable-basket setup, so that if you want plain hot water for tea or oatmeal, it won’t taste like coffee! Wireless internet access is complimentary, and easy to set up. Our room had locked doors to adjoining rooms on both sides, so a large group could presumably link together at least three rooms into a suite.

The only annoyances were:

Internet access during the convention was absolutely swamped. Sometimes pages just wouldn’t load, and the Flickr uploader actually gave up several times. This would have been less of a problem if I hadn’t been so determined to post photos and blog during the con, though at least with photos it turned out I could (usually) start them before going to bed and let them run overnight. The one night that it just gave up, I tried when we got up at 6 AM and they posted extremely quickly.

The bathroom had a sliding door that didn’t seal. Like the room at the Omni, it blocked light but not sound or airflow. On the plus side, it was actually big enough that we could brush our teeth at the same time.

Overall, though, we really liked it, and agreed that it would be near the top of our list when it came to hotels on the shuttle route. Though if possible I’d really prefer something close enough that we wouldn’t have to rely on the shuttle or other transportation.

Note (2014): This hotel is now the Wyndham San Diego Bayside.

San Diego and Butterfly Boucher

We’ve been following singer/songwriter Butterfly Boucher since 2004 — in fact, since the first day we tuned in to the now-defunct Indie 103.1 and heard “Another White Dash” for the first time. We caught her opening for Barenaked Ladies a few months later and picked up her album, then caught her again opening for Sarah McLachlan later that year. Her second album, “Scary Fragile”, finally came out on Tuesday (it’s very good — Katie says it may be the best sophomore album she’s ever heard), and she’s doing a concert tour. She’s playing in Los Angeles most of this month, but timing worked out better for us to go see her in San Diego on Saturday. So we bought some tickets and made a weekend trip out of it.

Historic San Diego

Old Town San Diego Wagon.We drove down after lunch on Saturday and hit Old Town San Diego on the way in. (More Highlander Grog!) I could swear I don’t remember having trouble finding it before, but the last few times it’s been hard to get to even following a map. At least we managed better than we did in December, when we ended up several miles inland before we could find a place to cross the inlet.

I don’t remember much going on the last time we were there, but this time Old Town was in full-on living history mode, complete with tour guides dressed up in 1800s outfits and a horse-and-buggy ride.

Fancy lobby. Once it was a bank, now it's a hotel.I’d booked the Courtyard San Diego Downtown because it’s literally next door to the House of Blues. It took a while to negotiate the one-way streets, but once we arrived, we stepped inside and were blown away by the lobby. It turns out that the hotel used to be the building for the San Diego Trust & Savings bank. After the bank closed in the 1990s, Marriott bought it and converted it to a hotel. The vault, safe deposit rooms, and other rooms on the first floor became a conference center, and the offices on the upper floors became guest rooms. They’ve preserved as much of the old look of the place as possible, down to keeping the mail slots on the former office doors. (Don’t worry, they’re blocked.)

Clouds and TowersWe ate dinner at Chopahn (6th Ave. near F St.), an Afghan restaurant we first visited during last year’s Comic-Con. It was empty when we got there, which I hope was just because we were there on the early side, because the food is great. Another couple arrived while we were eating, but they were the only people we saw other than the waitress. She had started pushing tables together as if they were expecting a larger party later on.

After dinner we wandered the Gaslamp district for a while. I kept making notes of where various hotels or restaurants were located. Eventually I realized I was basically scouting for Comic-Con next month.

Around 7:00 we made our way to the House of Blues.

Concert

That’s when we discovered that we’d been under a misapprehension about the nature of the venue. Continue reading

Comic-Con Hotel Booked – Sort Of (2009)

Well, I jumped into the fray of the Comic-Con International hotel reservation system and made it across to the other side, getting through by phone after 1 hour and 20 minutes. I never did make it past the “waiting room” page online.

The weird thing about the phone reservation system is that I don’t actually know which hotel we’ve gotten yet. They took my name, contact info and top 3+ choices (I gave them 5), then handed the info to their processing center. They’ll call back (later, I assume, after the rush is over) to let me know which hotel I got. I do have a backup that I reserved directly, but the convention discount is significant, especially when you add up four days.

It was interesting watching commentary streaming by on Twitter (search for “comiccon,” “comic-con” or “comicon”) as people started out commenting, then complaining, and eventually celebrating (after about an hour) when they finally got through. Or really letting loose when the system dropped them.

Update: A reporter interviewed me about the Comic-Con hotel reservation experience. Update (3/20): Here’s the article at the Union-Tribune. I’m not quoted.

Update: I got an email confirming our reservation. It’s farther out than the backup, but it’s ~$100 cheaper (over the course of 4 days – possibly more, depending on how much the other hotel charges for internet access) and there’s a shuttle. Now to weigh ~$100 vs. walking distance and figure out which room to keep and which to free up for someone else who needs one.

Cross-posted at Speed Force

Comic-Con Hotel Block Opens March 19, 2009

Comic-Con International finally announced the opening of this year’s convention block in San Diego hotels: March 19.

This time last year, they’d already gone on sale and sold out.

As recently as three (or maybe four) years ago, they’d have sent a postcard by January. They used to include a full list of hotels in the winter newsletter with distance and prices. I could swear I remember them going on sale in January.

Of course, five years ago you could still book the Little Italy Super 8 only less than a month in advance. Now the discounted rooms are in such demand that they sell out in a matter of hours.

Like last year, they are only selling tickets in advance, so if you plan on attending, you should order them online.