I was able to check a long-time item off my bucket list this year: attending Comic-Con in San Diego to soak up the atmosphere and sit in on a handful of panels was fun and exciting. But those crowds — Comic-Con is San Diego is the biggest “Con” of its type — became insufferably crushing at times. What relief it was, at night, to return to the Westin San Diego after the daytime teeming masses!
The Westin San Diego is just a couple of blocks away from the Gaslamp District, and my partner and I walked to Comic-Con (at the convention center, which is at the base of the Gaslamp) and back easily, every day. Walking away from the mayhem was, to be honest, a relief.
Just the Facts, Ma’am:
There are 436 rooms and suites at the Westin San Diego, all of which have that wonderful Westin Heavenly bedding. While the traditional guest rooms offer city or atrium views, currently there is so much construction in San Diego that city skyline views may be marred with cranes. Deluxe bedrooms, which offer some views of the bay, are a step up. Like the traditional guest rooms, they have one king or two double Westin Heavenly beds, a large flatscreen television and, for a fee, wire or wireless internet access. Starwood Preferred Guest card members have this fee waived.
The Junior Suites offer city or bay views, extra living space and an extra half bath, a larger TV and everything the guest rooms provide plus a “fresh floral arrangement.” The Bi-Level Suites, Terrace Suites, Luxury Suite and Presidential Suite, all on the upper floors of the Westin San Diego, offer more privacy, more space, and various luxury accoutrements such as a jacuzzi or a kitchenette.
San Diego is a popular travel destination, and hotel services include airport transportation (there is limited space so guests must sign up for this beforehand).
There are three eating areas along with in-room dining, but only one fully-fledged restaurant. Coast, the “real” restaurant, has the standard breakfast buffet seen at so many tourist destination hotels, along with a la carte menus for breakfast and lunch. It’s not open for dinner. Aroma Cafe is open every morning until 11am for coffee, tea, and light pastries and snacks. Last, The Bar is a very attractive lobby bar with tables for relaxing and enjoying wine and cocktails, along with all-day dining.
The Westin San Diego is pet-friendly for dogs up to 40 pounds. Larger dogs require pre-approval, and, as with all pet-friendly hotels, cleaning fees may apply. Also, dogs should not be left unattended in guest rooms. Because guests must indicate that they are bringing their dogs with them, upon arrival the Westin San Diego provides dogs with food and water bowls, the Signature Westin Heavenly Dog Bed (nice!) and a treat.
Westin San Diego, like several other Westin hotels across the country, participate in the RunWESTIN and New Balance Gear Lending Program. The RunWESTIN concierge leads bi-weekly guided runs at 6:30AM, and the hotel provides guests with towels, water bottles, and maps. The New Balance Gear Lending program lends the workout clothes and sneakers for those guests that want to save space in their luggage for other items.
Look, there are plenty of hotels on San Diego; it’s a very popular travel destination for tourists and business travel alike. While my partner and I were there for Comic-Con, throughout the year it’s clear that this particular Westin is a hotel oriented to business travel and business travelers’ needs. Other hotels have family-friendly activities or cater to romantic travel; the Westin San Diego has a lot to recommend in terms of meeting space and amenities for the business traveler.
San Diego itself is so warm and lovely throughout the year that most people, presumably, spend most of their daytimes outside. The lobby of the Westin San Diego is spacious enough to feel grand, without the typical grand decor of a luxury hotel. Further, while there is no official restaurant for dinner here, we actually didn’t notice this at all — San Diego’s steakhouses and other great restaurants took up all of our gastronomic attention. I imagine that someone wanting to come back to their hotel for fine dining would be disappointed, though. The concierges are so knowledgeable about the area that they are a good source for dining suggestions.
The Westin was sold out for the week due to Comic-Con, and since Comic-Con San Diego is the largest Con of its type, I’d presume that the other hotels in San Diego were similarly full. Nonetheless, we requested a room change and were promptly given one. When we got to our first room, it was immediately obvious that whoever was staying in the next room broke the “dogs must be accompanied at all times” policy — the sound of two small dogs constantly yapping and barking was untenable. Our second room was the same size (a typical guest room facing the city) but with responsible neighbors.
Internet access comes with a fee of $14.95 a day. This fifteen bucks a day is, in my opinion, too high. The money grab is easily avoided though; as mentioned earlier, Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express card members get complimentary internet as one of several Starwood Preferred guest benefits that I appreciate. Internet is also free is the lobby.
There is a hefty parking fee as well; valet parking for hotel guests is $45 a night. There are other parking lots in the surrounding area that charge by the hour, but people not using their cars (a lot of San Diego is a walking city) could hit the peak amount quickly there. I suggest that travelers who have flown in use the shuttle to get to and from the airport, so as to avoid renting a car in this walking city. When travelers want to go further than their feet would like, taxis and Uber can make up the difference. We drove down from Los Angeles, and didn’t use our car again until we drove home at the end of our stay.
There is a Hilton at ground zero for Comic-Con, and while convenient, I was relieved to walk away from the chaos once I hit my limit every night. Heading out of the Gaslamp District to the Westin San Diego was also noticeable for the decline of noise and crowds. Perhaps when I was younger, staying at the other local Westin (right in the Gaslamp District) would have been a great way to keep the party going for me and my partner. We are older now, and those day are behind us; the Westin San Diego and its quiet, almost stodgy interior was the perfect place for us to decompress after days in the bright sun and happy mess of Comic-Con.
Disclosure: I stayed at the Westin San Diego because I’m one of the “SPG AmEx Stars,” and receive travel and compensation as a result.