Never use Priceline after 5am
December 26, 2009 2:30 PM   Subscribe

IdiotFilter: I booked a Priceline hotel with the wrong region selected. Should I eat it and book somewhere else? Or will it work for New Year's Eve?

I made the catastrophic mistake of Pricelineing after 5am last night and during my rebid process (where you add regions that don't have the star level you're looking for, so you can instantly rebid), I jacked it down from 4 star to 3.5 star without unchecking all the regions.

This placed me at the Hilton Del Mar (map).

I'm there from Dec 31 - Jan 3, for $161 total.

I wanted to be in Downtown/Harbor Island, so that I could have a choice of festivities, and to be closer to downtown SD during the other days, but again, I was an idiot.

Both Priceline and Hilton absolutely refuse to budge and that's to be expected—I read the terms and made the mistake.

So my question is: Should I eat the $161 and try to find a similar deal closer? Or should I just stay there and drive in?

We have a vehicle, but I don't know what sort of parking situation we'll see coming in to downtown.

We might like to do the Zoo, Sea World, Harbor Island, the beach (which is close to this hotel), and the Gaslamp Quarter, so clearly being closer would be nice.

What's your expert opinion, San Diegans? It appears to be a solid 20 miles from downtown—will this be absolutely devastating, traffic-wise on the holiday weekend? Or can I reasonably make it down in 20 minutes?

God, I feel stupid. I'm usually fastidious and extremely careful with things like travel bookings, but I just missed it here and now I'm stuck.

Your advice is welcome—I'm willing to eat the $161, since I'm splitting the hotel with the girlfriend (she'll split wherever we stay, I'll eat the $161 myself) so that hurts a bit less, but if it's manageable, we'll just stay there. It looks like a pretty nice hotel on its own.
posted by disillusioned to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
My experience, as a confirmed cheapskate:
Eat the charge and go where you WANT to go.

You (me) will check into the inferior joint, stick it out for one mizzable night, and then spend ANY amount of money to go where you want.

The above process can be profitably short-circuited.
posted by hexatron at 4:32 PM on December 26, 2009

Eat it. I've not made the exact same mistake, but close enough. I happen to be of the notion that bad accommodations can ruin what would otherwise be a fantastic holiday. If it's not going to break you or put you in an otherwise bad financial spot then I would absolutely eat the $161.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:40 PM on December 26, 2009

Response by poster: That's been my first inclination as well. I can afford it, I just keep thinking "damn, that's a really nice dinner out two nights", you know?

I've sent one last treatise to Priceline appealing to their greater sense of compassion, but I'm guessing I'm SOL there.
posted by disillusioned at 4:45 PM on December 26, 2009

Before you just eat the expense, you might want to check out what's going on that night. I don't know about San Diego, but a lot of other cities have more public transportation on NYE to cut down on drunk drivers. Even getting a cab should be less than $161. You're staying at a Hilton not the Motel Off the Freeway, so it's not like you're sleeping in a bad place.

On the other hand if this is a really big deal kind of vacation and you want everything to be just right, then yes you should absolutely get to stay where you want. Since you can afford it make the reservation somewhere else.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:56 PM on December 26, 2009

Best answer: I've only lived in SD for 3 months but have visited many times, but yeah, you should be able to get downtown/Gaslamp in 20 minutes. I've almost stayed at the same hotel a few times myself but ended up deciding on places closer to the action downtown. Parking downtown can be a challenge. If you park near Petco Park which skirts the Gaslamp you'll be OK, but you'll be paying "event" rates. Although MTS is offering free bus/trolley service all night, Del Mar isn't on the Trolley or the buses that will be operating.

I really doubt you'll find a great deal like you found for 3 nights downtown. Unless you don't mind staying in a hostel. The fancy pants hotels downtown/Gaslamp (Hard Rock, Se, W, etc) with their fancy pants parties are going to run you $400+ for a room plus party admittance for just one night. Or there's a ton of other bars in the gaslamp you can stumble upon for your NYE festivities. See if the Hilton Bayfront still has $159/nt rooms. What you could do is stay downtown on NYE and then up in Del Mar the rest of your time in the area.

Since you have a car, you need to know that the hotels downtown charge a lot to park in their lots and so the money you save on the room rate can be eaten up by the nightly parking fee. Before I moved here I got a $79/nt rate at the W Hotel but then learned that the parking was another $30. I ended up staying at the Hampton Inn on Greenwood (near Rosecrans the I8/I5 area) for $79/nt but it had free parking. After dark you'd probably want to drive from there the mile or so to the Old Town Trolley station to get into downtown. The downside is you'll have to drive to the beaches, there's no view and it is a pretty urban area (as you exit the 8 you turn onto Rosecrans and turn at the nudie bars). But it is a pleasant, safe, hotel that I put my mom up at when she comes to visit. It isn't as nice as the Hilton Del Mar.

Harbor Island isn't that cool of a place to visit unless you're staying at one of the hotels there. If you switch to one of the hotels on Harbor Island, you're still looking at a decent drive/taxi ride to the festivities downtown (not 20 minutes, but it might feel like it). It seemed to me the rates at those hotels are about the same as you'd find downtown so I'd pass. Since they canceled the fireworks this year (due to environmental concerns) having a room there wouldn't set you up for a view of the fireworks anyway.

There are parties at some of the hotels up in Del Mar too so you may wish to check that out before deciding to come downtown.
posted by birdherder at 9:26 PM on December 26, 2009

Best answer: San Diego has very mild traffic in comparison to most of Southern California. I make that drive pretty often and it's no big deal. You'll be going south into the city; directly north of Del Mar there's always a pocket of congestion on the 5 at Solana Beach. However, San Diego to Del Mar is usually pretty clear.

That hotel is right off the 5 which connects to the 805, the 8 and 163. Everything you've named is off one of these main roads. On the route southward you'll hit some pretty good beaches - La Jolla (stop and see the seals and sea lions) and Torrey Pines. Torrey Pines has good surfing, but the best surf beach is Swami's slightly North of Del Mar. Just north of Swami's is my favorite beach in San Diego, Moonlight Beach. As a frame of reference on traffic, I live within walking distance of the Zoo. When I want to go the to beach, then I think nothing of driving out to Moonlight which is north of your hotel.

Are you traveling with kids? Personally, I like the Wild Animal Park over the Zoo, but the Zoo is truly awesome too. Harbor Island isn't really much, but I totally recommend a drive up to Cabrillo National Monument which is part of the National Parks system. It's 5 bucks per carload to get in to the park and view is definitely worth it on a clear day.

Now the bad parts about that hotel. I think that exit might still have some construction and there's not too much in that area. You'd definitely have to drive wherever you decided to go. Also, parking in downtown San Diego is pretty pricey and you won't be able to ditch the car at your hotel.
posted by 26.2 at 9:48 PM on December 26, 2009

Best answer: I'm a native San Diegan, I live there now, and I agree with 26.2.

It would be different if you'd booked a hotel in, say, San Marcos, but Del Mar is close enough to all the action that you should be fine.

I would also note that your hotel is on Jimmy Durante Blvd, which puts you right at the Del Mar Fairgrounds (it's on the same road). There will be a party there on New Year's Eve (here's some details; here's the Fairgrounds' website). I wouldn't necessarily recommend the Fairgrounds over the Gaslamp for NYE (4th of July, yes, NYE not as much), but it's a thought plus you can go to the Festival of Lights any night of your stay.

The Gaslamp, Sea World, et al will be a pretty quick drive from Del Mar, even on NYE. The only issue with traffic on the 5 is all the people from LA going down to Mexico to party, but even so you should be in the clear. Note that there will be lots of cops in Del Mar.

If you go to the Zoo, and you're at all interested in museums and culture, stop by the rest of Balboa Park.

The beach, as noted, is right right there at that Hilton and it's a lot nicer beach than (ugh) Harbor Island.

If you're comfortable with a bit of a drive (and yes, parking will be nasty, as it always is in the Gaslamp), I would recommend staying put with that hotel. It's a deal, and Del Mar is quite a nice place to stay.
posted by librarylis at 11:18 PM on December 26, 2009

Response by poster: I went through the rebid process and came up with absolutely nothing approaching the deal I got, so as I got closer to bidding $100/night, I realized I was better of just staying put.

Thanks for the advice, everyone! It looks like this isn't the disaster I first thought, and might actually be just fine!

Any ideas for NYE fireworks in Gaslamp or anywhere else worthwhile would be *greatly* appreciated. Definitely going to look at fairgrounds for lights and such, too.

So glad to hear that this should be totally reasonable.

No kids, yes we have a car, have to pay parking at our hotel, but it's only $14 (vs $25+ at downtown hotels). Also interested in museums, my mother mentioned Balboa today as well, so we might need to check that out.

Thanks again, everyone. I feel a lot better just getting a small assurance that I'm not three area codes away and that traffic will likely be manageable from people likely to know firsthand.
posted by disillusioned at 3:00 AM on December 27, 2009

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