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After our small-town Memorial Day parade, my two older kids and I said goodbye to mom and our little guy and made the 5-hour trek down to the Bay. We were flying out the next day on a one week trip to Europe. Since cash rates were very reasonable, at least for SFO, I settled on booking a paid stay at the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport for just south of $100, including taxes. You can compare cash rates for your dates at HotelsCombined.com or read other Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport reviews at TripAdvisor
I didn’t expect much, given the rate. But I was hopeful the place would be comfortable enough to get a good night’s sleep before the flight. This would also be an introduction to the brand itself, as it was my first Crowne Plaza stay to date.
Why I picked the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport
San Francisco is an expensive place. I’ve rarely paid cash to stay in the city, as it is almost never worth it. The high cost also spills over to the airport. Room prices fluctuate significantly, and during peak times I’ve seen many going for over $300 per night. For an airport hotel. Just…no.
Likewise, most of the hotels in the area require a hefty number of points for an award night, which is just as frustrating. I don’t mind shelling out points for a nice hotel, but airport hotels are typically just a place to sleep before we fly out the next day. Utility is all that matters. It hurts when you could be spending the same 40,000 points on a nice city-center hotel or even a resort.
So, given the good price, cash was the logical choice. The points option for the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport was downright laughable:
That took a *lot* of decision-making skill. If I wanted to book completely on points, I’d have to cough up 45,000 per night. For comparison, that is the same per-night price I paid for our booking at the Crowne Plaza Paris Republique for this same trip. At €230+ per night in a major (and expensive) city center, that makes a whole lot more sense.
Arrival and first impressions
We arrived at SFO in a rented car that we returned to the garage north of the airport. The garage is connected to the AirTrain, which took us to the international terminal where we caught the free hotel shuttle to the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport. The exterior is nothing special.
Given the dirt cheap rate at the IHG Crowne Plaza San Francisco airport (for SFO), I didn’t expect much from the hotel. My guess had been that it was dated and badly in need of a face lift. The lobby is nothing fancy, but it was clean and appealing enough. I’ve definitely seen nicer lobbies in newer Holiday Inn Express hotels, though.
I’m not exactly sure what feel the Crowne Plaza brand is supposed to have, and this stay didn’t really help me out. It was fairly bland, and similar to a few other Holiday Inns at which I’ve stayed.
The front desk agent was nice and checked us in quickly. I inquired about getting a room with a king bed and a sofa bed instead of what we’d booked, and she said that none were available. I didn’t really buy this excuse, given the cheap rate (and the inferred low occupancy of the hotel).
We had been given an room on the executive level, which I guess is sort of an upgrade. Yet again, IHG Platinum status isn’t worth much. But you really can’t ask a lot from status granted simply by holding a co-branded credit card.
SFO Airport hotel – Crowne Plaza Room
Our room was on the top floor and contained two double beds. It was comfortable enough, but it’s a bit of a squeeze with two kids (which is why I’d hoped for an upgrade). The room and furnishings were in very good condition.
There were water and snacks in the room, which was a nice touch. Many places offer water these days, but snacks are more rare. This was apparently part of the “executive level” upgrade.
The room was clean and of a typical design with a desk and TV along the wall. There was also a mini-fridge, which was surprising. I don’t generally expect one at more upscale hotel brands, which I guess Crowne Plaza is trying to be.
Like I said, there wasn’t anything to differentiate it from a nicer Holiday Inn. Really old and rundown Holiday Inns are another story (SEE: Holiday Inn Rancho Cordova Review, AND: Holiday Inn North Phoenix Review – Why I hate Holiday Inns).
Our room had a nice view of the freeway. This was quite the contrast from our recent stay at a nearby hotel where we had an awesome view of the Bay and SFO runways (SEE: San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront Review).
We got a generally good night of sleep. There wasn’t any disruption from either the freeway or aircraft landing, unlike a couple other SFO airports at which I’ve stayed. In general you want to avoid staying at any of the hotels close to runways 1L or 1R. Jets taking off a rather disruptive of sleep.
Speaking of sleep, my son ended up being entirely comfortable on the floor. This meant I was solidly rested for the following travel day since I didn’t have him kicking me all night. He was rested, too. When you’re seven, you can pretty much sleep anywhere. The beds at the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport were comfortable and I we all got a good night’s sleep.
Other amenities at the Crowne Plaza SFO
Breakfast isn’t free at Crowne Plaza hotels, but you can sometimes book a fairly reasonable breakfast rate that is only $4-8 over the base rate. This is totally worth it for 2 people if you can’t find a cheaper hotel that offers free breakfast to everyone. I didn’t book a breakfast rate, since I was expecting to head to the KLM/Air France lounge at SFO the next morning. But then KLM decided to throw us a curveball (SEE: Submitting an EU261 claim that could net me $1,500), and we ended up leaving at 6:00 a.m.
Leaving for SFO
The Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport offers a shuttle service leaving regularly for SFO. The front desk had a schedule available. The shuttle turned out to be one of the nicest I’ve ever ridden. It makes one stop at another hotel nearby.
The location is ideal enough that the airport is only 8-15 minutes away, depending on traffic. Less than an hour later we were waiting at our gate for our flight to Seattle, the first leg on our trip to Paris!
I had low expectations going into our stay at the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport, but it ended up being a perfectly fine stay. The fact that it only offers two double beds is less-than-ideal for traveling with my two older kids, but the room and hotel were nice enough. It really all boiled down to paying a very reasonable rate for a decent airport hotel in an otherwise expensive area. I’d happily stay again.
You can compare cash rates for your dates at HotelsCombined.com or read other Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport reviews at TripAdvisor