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March 29, 2012 9:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a cheaper alternative to the Marriott Marquis hotel in San Francisco. What are my options?

I'll be traveling to San Francisco in May for a conference taking place at the Marriott Marquis hotel. Rooms are $160/night, which is beyond what we'd hoped to spend. Is this a reasonable expectation? Can you recommend other nearby(ish) cheaper options? Here are my considerations:

1) I'm traveling with my spouse and two-year-old child, which moves my threshold for grottiness of accommodations and sketchiness of neighborhoods up considerably from where it would be otherwise. I'm willing to pay for clean and safe, and if it's a walkable neighborhood so much the better.

2) I'm happy to take mass transit from a bit further out if that means savings. Probably no more than a 20-30 min. commute each way, though, if that's doable.

If $160 is actually about the best I can do given those considerations, so be it, but I hope not.
posted by dr. boludo to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried something like Priceline or Anything downtown will probably list for about that rate, but I've known a lot of people to get a much better deal through the online hotel discount dealers (~$100/night).

Stay out of the Tenderloin and away from anything south of Market (not that all of that area is sketch, but average safety level can change block-by-block in SF and listing various blocks would be a bit tedious). Market in the Civic Center area is also sketch if you have a little one in tow. Most areas are fine during the day; it's just at night you need to be mindful.
posted by smirkette at 9:41 PM on March 29, 2012

The spouse and I were considering staying at the Fisherman's Wharf Hostel, formerly Fort Mason, if we ever returned not on the company's dime. We have never stayed there, but it does offer private rooms for $85-$105 and gets really good reviews. And it's really close to the area you seem to be targeting. I would consider it walking distance, but I may be a freak. Perhaps some locals might weigh in on its relative merits?
posted by miss patrish at 9:59 PM on March 29, 2012

Fisherman's Wharf is not close to the Marriott Marquis. And $160 is pretty reasonable for downtown SF - I'd be surprised if you found a comparable hotel at that price. That said, you may have some luck with AirBnB or VRBO. For example, here's a studio apartment in the Castro for $112, which would allow you to hop on MUNI to the conference while your spouse & kid get more of a neighborhood experience.
posted by judith at 10:21 PM on March 29, 2012

I stayed at the Golden Gate Hotel a few years ago and really loved it - looks like about $115 a night for a European style room (which means shared bath). It's very convenient to the touristy center of town (i.e. Powell), nowhere near the Golden Gate Bridge, despite the name. Looks like a 10 minute walk to your conference center (though the walk back is up a pretty steep hill).

I agree that $160 doesn't sound out of line for a hotel in the city.
posted by maryr at 10:48 PM on March 29, 2012

$160 is not that expensive for a hotel in downtown SF. Especially when you're here for a conference when rooms will be in high demand. Vacation rentals in Noe Valley or the Castro would work for you. In Noe Valley the J runs on Church street and the Castro has a main stop at Castro and Market.
posted by oneear at 11:19 PM on March 29, 2012

I literally lived at the Marriott for six weeks from sunday night to Thursday about 5 years ago and I negotiated a rate down to $150/night so I think $160 is a good value for that hotel. (I did get my clothes laundered and cleaned over the weekends as a free perk. Not having luggage on cross country flights is a huge plus.) Staff was really nice to me. Not sure what you can get elsewhere, but I think that is reasonable for where you are.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:25 PM on March 29, 2012

Nthing that $160 is very reasonable for a pretty nice hotel in downtown SF. I'd be amazed if you were able to get clean, safe, and walkable for less than that. It's not New York expensive, but SF is still a pricey city.

Since you're with your family, I agree that getting a place on AirBnB or VRBO is by far your best bet. You can stay in a cool, pretty neighborhood with more affordable (i.e. not tourist prices) restaurants than you'll find around Union Square. You may very well find something more affordable, but even if you can't, a place with a kitchen means you could save money by doing some meals there, bringing the total cost of the whole trip down.

Also, when you're thinking commute time, it's worth mentioning that in most of SF, that will mean MUNI, the bus lines (or BART, the subway, if you're lucky). It's notoriously slow, so 30 minutes won't necessarily get you very far. When you're looking at places, plug the address, your destination, and the time you need to be there into That will give you a decent idea of how long it will actually take you to get there.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:51 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

my husband and i stayed in this VRBO studio in the Castro. it was very clean and the owner was very nice and easy to deal with. we walked to all kinds of restaurants and went running in golden gate park. it's not considerably cheaper than your hotel price, but it gives you a different experience.
posted by nanhey at 6:42 AM on March 30, 2012

I would check AirBNB also. My SO and I got a stellar-looking apartment in Nob Hill for around $70/night right on a trolley line. I've had very good experiences with AirBNB in the past (of course, always check the reviews; people are pretty good about leaving honest feedback).
posted by chrisfromthelc at 7:50 AM on March 30, 2012

You'll definitely want to try Priceline to see if you can get a room for a bit cheaper. Your conference hotel is in the middle of what Priceline calls the "9-SOMA - Moscone Center" area. You should be fine in there. The adjacent areas are still relatively close that you could easily walk to your conference.
posted by mmascolino at 8:18 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

We stayed at the Best Western on Fisherman's Wharf for about $100 on Priceline. Very nice, clean, safe, accessible to transit.
posted by desjardins at 9:59 AM on March 30, 2012

Hotel Tomo in Japantown might be a reasonable price, it's in a great neighborhood with fast access to downtown (the 38 line in particular), and your wife and child have solid playground choices within walking distance.
posted by mamabear at 2:51 PM on March 30, 2012

Thanks all. We can't beat the conference rate on or priceline, and you all convinced me that la dra. boluda was right all along and that it's a completely reasonable price given our restrictions and our means. Living in a really cheap part of the country and having only recently ascended out of grad-school penury were coloring my expectations for budget in ways that weren't realistic, I think.
posted by dr. boludo at 10:04 PM on March 31, 2012

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