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Thursday, July 19, 2012

#SDCC Review Hotel Palomar Downtown San Diego

For SDCC 2012, the wife and I stayed at the Hotel Palomar in downtown San Diego.
This was our first attempt to stay downtown. We had hopes of staying at the Hard Rock or the Hilton Bayside.  We wanted something walking distance (3 blocks at the most) from the convention center. 
When we learned we were staying at the Hotel Palomar, a self-described boutique hotel, we were disappointed. To me a ‘boutique’ hotel meant frou frou and I’m not frou frou.  I’m a Doubletree type of guy.  It was also a mile from the convention. From the Trolley map it looked like it was a mile from the nearest station.  So we were disappointed.
To be truthful there was lots to like about this stay. While I can’t say I was frustrated or disappointed with the hotel or stay, there were things I didn’t like.
Our stay was a pleasant and we would stay again. If we found out the SDCC Travel Agency assigned us the same hotel we would be happy.  Since we were looking at a downtown hotel, the price wasn’t an issue.  He wanted proximity and convenience.
As we got out of the taxi, the door man helped with our luggage. Since he wasn’t a bellhop, he didn’t take it inside. His job was opening the massive 150 door that swiveled through it’s off centered vertical axis. Very cool looking and perfect for locking out zombies.
The lobby was nice. The wife loved it. They had fruit infused water and teas.  The staff was very friendly and not overly chatty.  Now, being SD and with the cool looking massive door wide open, the lobby was hot and muggy. Throughout the week the lobby was muggy and warm. Only when I left at 6AM was the lobby comfortable.
The elevator was very smooth and we never seemed to have to wait long even though we were on the 14th floor. Again, the hallways were very warm. I get it. It’s California and it’s a rolling blackout thing. It’s a waste to cool the halls. I’m always warm so it makes that kind of an impression on me.
Our room was the closest room to the elevator.  I can claim I never heard the elevator ding or move through the shaft while we were in our room.  In fact, this hotel was incredibly quiet. We never heard our neighbors or their TV’s and we didn’t heard anything from the party by the pool on the 4th floor on Saturday night. Amazingly quiet and we never heard a thing from the House of Blues that was adjacent to the hotel either.
The room was small. Lots of square footage was wasted with the hallway from the door to the bed area.  There was a large closet in the room and a very tall mirror (maybe 7 feet high) that was a nice touch. Being tall, it’s nice to see myself in a mirror without stooping over.
The bathroom was tres frou frou.  There was a sliding frosted glass door for the bathroom. The sink was pretty. It was shallow and splashed water all over. The shower was partially open and water splashed there too.
The water was instant hot water. Very nice.  Never had that before and I quickly got used to it.  The shower had a rain fall shower head and I expected low water pressure. This was another great surprise. The water pressure was very high. I love a shower with high pressure. It feels like a massage.  If I wanted a gentle rain, I would stand outside.
The thermostat had a motion detector.  So the air conditioning shut off during the day (and the night) after a certain time without movement.  I do not like coming home all sweaty to a warm room. Nor do I like waking up to a warm room to lower the temperature. Yes, I get it -conserve energy.  But I get cranky when I sweat.
The room was equipped with a fridge/mini bar.  There was free space in the fridge for our stuff.
The room came with a safe.  I liked that too.
The floors were hard wood. Again, frou frou and the wife liked it but my blistered feet didn’t like.
I must say the bed area was small and slightly cramped and there wasn’t a lot of space to put away our clothes.  It was just 2 of us for a week and we were cramped. I can’t imagine if 3 or 4 people tried to crowd in or someone that was trying to cosplay and brought extra clothes or even someone that was planning on partying and need the extra clothes. What about the guy that buys lots of stuff at the show?
They had a nice large flat screen TV. Unfortunately is was on the desk and took up a lot of the functional area of the desk. It was to the side of the bed and not in front of the bed.  Because it was on the desk, I could not spread out my program and various bits of papers to plan my SDCC attack for the next day.
While there were enough outlets for us to charge our various electronic, the desk didn’t have a pen. Go figure.
The room had free wifi if you joined the Kimpton loyalty program.
The bed was comfortable although they had one of those long frou frou pillow logs that only end up in a corner of the room. Thankfully the maid service didn’t place it on the bed each night.
My wife liked the pool/ bar area and spent an afternoon reading there.
I mentioned that I thought we were isolated and far from the trolley. I know the convention has a shuttle bus but I also know the buses get full and you are stuck waiting for the next bus, and the next one as everyone leaves at the same time.
Surprisingly there is a trolley stop not a block from the hotel. The negative is there were also a lot of homeless people hanging around. This doesn’t me much as I’m a big intimidating guy. I do worry about the wife.
There were two 7-11’s, a Rite Aid, and a CVS within a block of the Palomar. This was perfect for getting munchies or water or the sundries you forgot to pack or the unexpected need.  Also within 2 blocks was a subway and a pizzeria.
While this wasn’t a perfect match for us nor was it a horrible match either. Knowing what I know now, I would be excited about lodging here again. The location and the convenience of the trolley and the drug stores are a massive plus and one of the major factors of our willingness to stay again.


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