Trip to San Francisco and the bay area - April 2015
Review of hotels in San Francisco, Napa and Monterey

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Palace Hotel in San Francisco


We stayed at Palace Hotel in San Francisco in April 2015 for 4 nights when we first arrived in the city. Getting to the hotel from the airport could not have been easier – we took the BART train to Montgomery station and you exit the station basically at the doorstep of the hotel. The train from the airport to Montgomery takes about 30 minutes. The check in was fast and we got room 475. The lobby and entrance area is a reminder that this is an old and classy hotel and the main hall is stunning. I had read some mixed reviews of the rooms but I was pleasantly surprised by the room we were assigned to. The room had high ceiling, light walls and a blue carpet. In the middle of the room was a large King size bed with a good duvet and good pillows. The side tables were large which is excellent if you bring a book, ipad, glasses etc. The room was a bit dark as the carpet and some of the furniture were dark but the reading light in the bed was great! The wardrobe contained a small safe and there was an ironing board and an iron. The room also included some nice robes and slippers. There was also a desk under the flat screen TV and there was a small fridge that was totally empty. Free wifi was included in the room and worked out good. The aircon in the room was easy to control and it didn’t make too much noise.


The bathroom was a bit small but the layout was good. There were white tiles and a bathtub with a shower – the usual shower curtain was replaced by a glass panel which works much better in my opinion. The amenities were good and included the usual shampoo, shower gel, soap but also shower cap, mending kit and shoe sponge. The towels were very large and pretty soft. Location of the hotel is pretty good. Located on Market street it is easy to walk to Union square, Ferry building etc. There are busses, street cars and train right outside the hotel so it was easy to get around. 


We did not have breakfast included in the room but it was very easy to find places to grab some breakfast. There are Starbucks coffee shops around the corner and we also enjoyed oats at Corner Bakery just a few steps from the hotel entrance on Market Street. There are some renovation going on at the hotel according to a letter in the room but we did not hear any noise at all from this work. I was very happy with the Palace hotel and I would not mind staying there again. If friends and family are going to visit San Francisco I will certainly recommend Palace hotel but at the same time warn them that it is expensive.


San Francisco Marriott Union Square


We stayed at the Marriott near Union Square for 3 nights in April 2015. We booked the hotel online basically the same day we arrived and we decided to stay at this hotel as the price was pretty good and we wanted to stay at a hotel in this area. We came into San Francisco in a rental car and I dropped off my wife and the suitcases by the hotel entrance. The hotel is located on the corner of Sutter and Powell so it is quite a busy area. Note that there is a parking garage on Sutter and Stockton that you can pay to use – it is a lot cheaper than the hotel parking garage. I dropped off my wife and hoped that she would be able to start the check in process but it seemed like the hotel didn’t want to do this as we don’t have the same surname. When I got to the check in I got a bit of a weird welcoming. I said that I had booked online but it seemed like he was not able to find my reservation and when I showed the booking reference number that I had received from and he said that this was not a Merriott reference number. All the other hotels that we stayed at didn’t have any problems finding our reservations based on reference numbers given by various hotel sites.


We got a room on the 14th floor and once we opened the door we noticed that we had gotten a room with twin beds instead of a kingsize bed. My wife called to the reception to say that this was not according to our reservation but she was immediately told that they didn’t have any available rooms with a kingsize bed. The bellman arrived at our door with the suitcases just when we were walking out of the room and we inform him that we had to go back to the reception to see if we could switch rooms and he didn’t seem too happy about it. When we came to the reception again they had been able to find a room for us and I think we got 902 on the ninth floor.


The room seemed a bit dated upon entering the room. There was a yellowish/brownish carpet on the floor and yellow walls. The king size bed was quite comfortable and had 6 pillows in two different sizes. I found it a bit strange that the bed only had a bedside table on the one side – it is always good to have a side table for the glasses, ipad, iphone etc. The bed did have pretty good reading light and I appreciated that. There was a small work desk and a chair and a rather small flat screen TV mounted on the wall. The desk did have a few sockets but it would have been great if they had some international sockets as well – but we did bring adapters so it was not a problem for us.


The wardrobe had a few hangers and it did include an iron and ironing board - but as usual the iron was not very good. The small safe in the wardrobe had the buttons on top instead of in the front which works fine. But the wardrobe did not have any lights so it was not easy to see the numbers when putting in the code – I guess it is good that cellphone can work as a flashlight these days. There was no fridge in the room as far as I can remember. The room was not very big but they had also managed to squeeze in a cabinet with drawers by the window. I never use drawers like this so it is pointless for me. But on top of the cabinet there was a small coffee machine and a couple of glasses. There was a red chair in the corner and we had to push this out of the way as there was hardly any space for our suitcases. The bathroom was not very appealing in my opinion but I guess it depends on your taste. It had a strange sink/table, light tiles on the floor and yellowish walls. Again there was a bathtub with a shower option – and again there was a shower curtain to avoid splashing. I don’t like the shower curtain option and it would have been much better with a proper shower. The amenities included shampoo, soap, conditioner and body lotion.


Our room rate did not included wifi but they do provide free wifi in the lobby area. I hope that they will change the policy and provide free wifi for all the guests like many hotels do these days. Our room rate did not include breakfast so I can’t comment on that either. The location of the hotel is good – located on Sutter/Powell it is just a short stroll from Union Square and there are lots of coffee shops, restaurants and shopping nearby. The conclusion: we got off on the wrong foot as the welcoming to the hotel was not very friendly. The room was pretty standard but the location is great. It would have been great if the hotel can offer free wifi. I would not mind staying there again if the room rate is acceptable. Thanks to the friendly doorman with a Filipino heritage that took the time to chat a bit.


Wine Valley Lodge Napa


We stayed in Wine Valley Lodge outside Napa during a 3 day visit to the area in April 2015. As we booked a bit late the hotels were getting pretty expensive so we decided to go for a hotel located a bit outside the city center. We had a rental car with a GPS so finding the lodge was not difficult at all. The check it was fast, we got the password for the wifi that was complimentary and got room 35. The hotel is like an old school motel with the rooms in a U shape with parking in front of the rooms and a pool in the middle. I think the pool was pretty cold - the teenagers that tried it screamed when they hit the water ;-)


The room was a bit dated with darkish pink colored walls and an ugly blanket on the bed. The bed was decent in size and the pillows were OK. But I’m not sure that I understand the blanket thing – I’m used to a decent duvet wrapped in a bed sheet and I don’t really like the three layered blanket version of it. The room was not very well lit and there was no reading light. There was a new flat screen TV, a microwave oven, a small desk and a chair and a fridge that contained two bottles of complimentary water. The aircon in the room was a bit noisy but at least it provided some heat as it was still a bit cold in the mornings and afternoons. I would have liked to see a safe in the room. The bathroom had the same colors on the walls as the main room and tiles on the floor. The amenities were OK and included some soap and shampoo and the shower had hot water.


Breakfast was next to the lobby – it was a help yourself kind of breakfast and it included some fruit, cereal, yogurt, pre-packed sandwiches and a coffee machine. It was not very impressive to be honest and we chose to have breakfast at Starbucks or similar the following days to get some proper oats.

The location of the hotel is good enough if you have a car – it only takes like 5 minutes to drive to Napa. But it was a bit too far to walk at night but it was easy to get a taxi to drive us to Napa. All in all this is a motel style lodge and we got just what we expected really. It is not a place that I want to recommend for a romantic honeymoon but if you just want some cheap accommodation while visiting Napa this could be the place for you.


Pacific Grove Inn


We stayed at Pacific Grove Inn for one night in April 2015 during a short road trip in the area. We booked the B & B online on the day before our visit to Monterey/Pacific Grove. It seems like this Inn has gone bankrupt at least according to this article. We didn’t have any problems finding the place with the help of the GPS in the car and we were pleased to see that there was parking behind the mansion. The B & B is located in an old mansion and check in what fast. We got the key and password for the complimentary wifi and got a quick tour of the living room. The welcoming was like coming to someone’s home as the guy that helped us said that he had just baked some cookies and that there were coffee and tea available.


We then dragged the suitcases up the stairs to room 5. The room was decent upon entry - it had dark carpet and flower wall paper. The room was not very large so the bed filled up most of the room. There was also a small sofa/large chair and old school TV with a VCR on top – I haven’t seen a VHS player in quite some time! There was a good selection of VHS movies in the downstairs living room so it was fun to see an old classic at bed time. We were also thrilled to see that there was a gas fire place and it was cosy to go to sleep with the fireplace on. The bed seemed to have a tempura mattress that was quite comfortable. Pacific Grove did not seemed to be a large place but there were quite a lot of traffic on the road next to the hotel during the night and with the thin windows it was annoying.


The bathroom was tiled, had a bathtub with a shower option – with a peach colored shower curtain. The shower came with the usual amenities of shampoo and soap and the tissue paper and towel were folded into nice decorations. There were not a lot of shelf place to put things. The breakfast was supposed to be gourmet style and it was not bad compared to motel breakfasts in the US. There was a selection of warm food including biscuit, gravy and sausage or eggs made to your liking. The guy who was in the reception took our order and he seemed to forget the sausage when he mentioned this dish to us. We ordered the eggs but it seemed like there was a misunderstanding as we didn’t get it with any toast. Apart from that there were some cereal, fruit and some instant oats. All in all not a bad breakfast but calling it a gourmet breakfast is stretching it.


It was easy to walk to the small center of Pacific Grove in about 5 minutes and with a car it only took 5 minutes to Monterey. There are a few restaurants in Pacific Grove and we just had a snack at the International Cuisine.
Conclusion: the room was charming and we had a comfortable night there. It would have been even better if there had not been that much noise from the traffic outside during the night. The location of the Inn is good and breakfast was decent. All in all I wouldn’t mind staying here again.


The Cobblestone Inn – Carmel


We stayed at The Cobblestone Inn in Carmel for one night in April 2015 and we booked the room online on on a cell phone like 1 hour before we arrived - you have to love modern technology. We found the Inn fairly easy by using the GPS in the car and there were parking right outside the place. Check in was pretty fast and we got a room on the ground floor which was excellent as I didn’t want to drag our suitcases up stairs. The lady that was checking me in also gave me some advice about restaurants that was worth visiting in the neighborhood.


The king room that we booked turned out to be a very large room. We had a corner room so there were light coming in from several windows. The first thing we noticed was that there was a small lounge with a sofa, chair and a table – right in front of a gas fireplace. Seems like gas fireplaces are popular in this area :-) Above the fireplace there was a flat screen TV and there was also a small sink, an empty fridge and empty cabinets. There was also a small work desk and a chair by the door. The bed was large and pretty comfortable.  The wifi was complimentary and worked pretty well.


The bathroom was also decent in size with greyish tiles and with a window to get natural light into the room. There was a sink, the usual amenities such as shampoo and soap and there was a bathtub with a shower option – with a shower curtain. The breakfast the next morning is described by the Inn as “scrumptious, delectable, home-style cuisine each morning in the charming setting of our cozy lobby.” Well, I did not get offered any bacon and egg as displayed on the photo on the homepage and even if there was still an hour left of breakfast it seemed like they were running out of many of the items. There was a bit of oats, some cereal, some warm potatoes, waffles and some bread. The location of the hotel seemed to be pretty good – we walked over to Mission street where we had booked a restaurant within a couple of minutes and the Inn is only like 500 meters from the beach.

All in all – a large room with lots of light, a cosy fireplace and a comfortable bed. I would not mind staying there again – but I hope that the breakfast will be a bit better the next time ;-)


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