Visiting the Googleplex on a budget
January 13, 2010 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I have an invitation to visit the Googleplex. What are my best options for getting there (from the East Coast) and staying for a couple of days on a limited budget?

I'm very excited at the opportunity, but I work in the public sector and budgets are beyond a nightmare and shrinking fast, so I have to estimate travel expenses and justify the visit. I've also never been to SF before, am not particularly comfortable by myself in large cities, and don't particularly care for driving (also renting a car would be an additional expense). I'm assuming I should fly, but which airport is best, and any ideas on where to stay and how best to get there?
posted by idb to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
Yes, you should fly, unless you want to spend four or five days driving across the country. You want to fly in to either San Francisco (SFO) or San Jose (SJC). SJC is closer, but you'll probably get better fares flying into SFO. Mountain View is about 40 miles south of San Francisco; if you're going to be visiting the Mountain View campus, I imagine you'll want to stay in San Jose or Mountain View rather than having to drive or take Caltrain from San Francisco. I can't recommend places to stay, though. Someone should be along in a bit to chime in on that.
posted by rtha at 8:37 AM on January 13, 2010

Flying in to San Jose is often cheaper than SF and closer to Google. You'll probably need a car but really ask the HR person what they suggest. Maybe you could stay in SF and take the Google shuttle down to MV for the interview (in this case obviously don't fly to San Jose)? I don't know if the shuttle is only for employees.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:38 AM on January 13, 2010

re the airfare thing: It's going to depend on where you're flying from and what airlines have hubs there and here; do a search on and see if it makes a difference. A $40 cheaper fare to SFO may not matter if you're staying in Mountain View and have to pay for a cab or shuttle ride to and from the airport.
posted by rtha at 8:46 AM on January 13, 2010

Virgin America recently published sale fares from the east coast to SF and LA. if you're flexible about day/time of travel, you may be able to get an awesome deal.
posted by darsh at 8:50 AM on January 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far. Not for an interview unfortunately :-(. I'm on an advisory board. Sounds like SJC and staying in Mountain View near the campus, in which case, cheap, but cheerful hotel recommendations would be much appreciated
posted by idb at 8:56 AM on January 13, 2010

Yelp is huge in the bay area, so you may have some luck with a hotel search centered on Mountain View.
posted by tantivy at 9:08 AM on January 13, 2010

The cheapest lodging in Silicon Valley is the Sunnyvale Pacific Inn. Shared bathrooms, Murphy bed, tiny room; but equiped with a fridge, sink & microwave for $45/night. Sunnyvale is one stop from Mountain View on Caltrain, this hotel is walking distance from the Sunnyvale station (although the Googleplex is NOT walking distance from the Mountain View station, but I think they have a shuttlebus).

Fly to San Jose, take the free VTA bus to Santa Clara Caltrain, ride Caltrain one station north to Sunnyvale.
posted by Rash at 9:11 AM on January 13, 2010

If you are going there in some sort of official capacity, then you should ask your Google contact for info on the options on that end. Google surely has some "packaged "information for visitors, potentially including hotels and rental car companies that can give a discount (though you still might be able to do better on Priceline)
posted by Good Brain at 9:13 AM on January 13, 2010

Fly to SJC. It will be the most convenient situation for you. You can easily get a shuttle from the airport to MV. There are plenty of hotels in the area to fit pretty much any budget. If you choose not to rent, get a place in MV (will definitely limit options).

If you do rent, there's tons of options in the area.
posted by special-k at 9:45 AM on January 13, 2010

the comfort inn in mountain view is cheap(relatively) and has nice rooms. i would recommend SJC as there's a bus that gets you to the calTrain and from there shuttle/cab. might want to look into options for a bike...
posted by maulik at 10:33 AM on January 13, 2010

Response by poster: My contact has recommended the Avante, but it's a bit pricey even with the corporate discount, so I appreciate these other suggestions.
posted by idb at 11:17 AM on January 13, 2010

Avante is quite nice (trendy, even). But if you stay there, you won't be walking to the Googleplex.

Also you shouldn't assume that Mountain View is "city" like San Francisco. MV is one of the towns (like Sunnyvale, Cupertino & etc) which grew and over time merged into the seamless, extended suburbia that is Silicon Valley.
posted by Rash at 11:37 AM on January 13, 2010

Response by poster: But they do have a free shuttle to the Googleplex.
posted by idb at 12:02 PM on January 13, 2010

Caveat Emptor in a big way when staying at cheap hotels near Mountain View. The local paper reports that they are where people on verge of homelessness stay when they can afford it because they have nowhere else to go--the Holiday Inn it ain't. Read tripadvisor and steel yourself.
posted by jewzilla at 4:44 PM on January 13, 2010

The shuttle is only for employees, EXCEPT if you are taking the Shoreline shuttle which picks up at the Mountain View Caltrain station. That shuttle is subsidized by Google, but not entirely paid for by them, so it's open to the public and free. As such, if you're looking to avoid renting a car, you need to stay walking distance from that station...or, if you're willing to spend a bit more time in the mornings, any other station.

It doesn't much matter which airport you fly into. Both are inconvenient to Google - you have to do a complicated transfer process to Caltrain regardless, and then take a shuttle from the train. It is well worth considering staying an extra night before your planned arrival there just because it takes so damn long to take the train to Mountain View, but it's SO much cheaper to take the train than to take a cab...

As you may be able to tell, I'm well acquainted with the transit situation in and around that area. Feel free to memail me if you're interested in more details.

Couldn't tell you about hotels, though.
posted by crinklebat at 8:45 PM on January 13, 2010

« Older Is there electronic alternative to corkboard for...   |   What's behind Comcast's signal specs? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.