There were no preconceived opinions going into Andaz San Diego. I did not read any hotel reviews of the property prior to our stay. I had eaten breakfast at a restaurant in the San Diego Gaslamp District during the Christmas holidays 2013, so I had a general idea of the downtown city area. Gaslamp is party zone central for the San Diego visitor with many bars, restaurants and hotels.
The Gaslamp at night is a street parking challenge. We found several spots to park on the street near the hotel at metered spots free from 6pm to 8am, but 3am Tuesday morning was a street cleaning day and this was Monday evening. There were streets with Monday, Wednesday, Friday 3am ‘No Parking’ restrictions, but they did not have the empty spaces at 9:00pm on a Monday night. Valet parking is $40 at Andaz San Diego. ACE Parking two blocks away on 6th and E Street has a $15 daily maximum. I parked two blocks away in the garage.
The Andaz receptionists were welcoming at check-in. We were offered beverages, including wine. My focus was on the hotel details. One female receptionist escorted us to our second floor room and pulled the luggage cart. It was a short pull. While I noticed she had a difficult time, and I lent a hand to the effort, Kelley told me afterwards she was wearing thin high heels while trying to gain floor traction to move the luggage cart across the carpet.
The hotel offered a room rate during the Christmas week far below the $200+ per night average. I booked the soon-to-cease-in-2015 Hyatt ‘My Elite Rate’ King bed room for $104 and upgraded the stay with a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member suite upgrade certificate. Sounds impressively expensive, however, my post-reservation confirmation eStandby Upgrade offer placed a $55 per night value on the Andaz Suite upgrade.
Knowing what I now know, the city view upgrade for $30 is a good investment. Otherwise your view is the ‘open atrium’, which might be preferable for quieter sleep, but no views unless you are into voyeurism or exhibitionism.
I dubbed the interior room locations as the ‘Hyatt Hole’. Andaz San Diego has 159 rooms including something like 17 suites. This was a disappointing suite location in room 229 to be booked into for a hotel that was relatively empty during our stay.
If I got down on my knees beside the couch, I saw the blue sky of a sunny day. When I looked out the window from the bedroom, I saw the hotel infrastructure pipes.
The Andaz San Diego Suite is 515 sq. ft. of room space in a junior suite room design with a partial divider wall, open on both sides, separating the bed from the living room.
This is one of those times when I write my hotel room description from memory and then look for a clarifying photo only to realize that I never snapped the room image I want for the article. The photo above is the Andaz San Diego suite divider seen from the bedroom side looking to the gray-tile bathroom and the mini-bar counter near front door. To the right, out of view, is the right side opening between the bedroom and living room couches and desk located on the opposite side of the divider. I didn’t even photograph the desk on the other side of the divider.
There are wall mounted TVs on both sides of the divider and we had a problem with the remote affecting both TVs simultaneously when we had both TVs on. Change channel on one TV and the channel changed on other TV.
The night before we stayed at Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme and I commented that the room had so much space for extra furniture. The HIX standard room was probably within 5% of the same square footage as the Andaz Suite. I felt the space was too crowded at Andaz with little room to move between the two couches, large center table, desk chair and desk.
Potato chips and two granola bars were complimentary in the mini-bar snack basket. Sparkling water and soda in refrigerator are free. Touch one of those big alcohol bottles and Andaz San Diego parking fees look like a bargain on the hotel folio.
Coffees and teas for the Keurig machine are free too.
The bathroom is large. Visibility from the bathroom sink area to other room windows was wide open with the hotel room curtains open.
There is a sliding door to the bathroom for privacy. The shower stall in the suite offered more privacy than the standard room. The primary complaint about the Andaz San Diego hotel rooms are the Deluxe room glass showers visible in the bedroom offer no privacy. Some reviewers call the standard room an upgrade from the Andaz Suite. I guess it is all about the sort of visual perspective you want while staying at the hotel. Andaz San Diego makes some sexiest hotels lists for its open shower bathroom design.
After staying at the hotel, I read a hotel report on FlyerTalk where someone commented on the hole in the shower door for the towel. Water splashes off your body and out the hole. I didn’t notice, but Kelley commented on that happening to her. We both noticed uneven shower tiles on the floor.
The bed was comfortable, but I had one freaky-ass dream in that bed. I rarely have nightmares, but that first night in this bed in San Diego, I dreamed someone else was in the bed with Kelley and me. Kelley woke me up from the nightmare as I was physically kicking her off the bed. I had a couple of good dreams after that, but the nightmare is the one I remember vividly.
I wondered what this hotel building used to be? I was unable to find the building’s history in my web search.
The party scene at Andaz San Diego is legendary from its former branding as The Ivy. There was no scene happening during our stay. Good thing too as I have read many reviews by hotel guests turned off by the lobby being overrun by 20-somethings, wall vibrating music disrupting sleep and burly bouncers questioning you at every step.
RoofTop600 sounds like a Vegas bar at night with exclusive guests, roped off areas and bottle service for tables. The place is considered one of the top rooftop venues in Gaslamp.
The space around the bar is pretty small. There are several lounge couches and a fire pit.
The pool is a great spot to stand around in a bikini for photographs. I saw some sexy photos taken at the hotel in hotel reviews. Kelley said the pool reminded her of W San Francisco with its maximum 3.5 ft. depth. Fingers touch the pool bottom if you try to swim.
Breakfast dining was on the roof with a few tables set up.
There are full pool cabanas with TV and such.
People mention the great rooftop view in the nightclub reviews. I did not think there was much to see, unless you take joy in looking over the roof to the crowd on the sidewalk below waiting to get into the Andaz.
But, the sidewalk club crowd is only a description I picked up from the experiences I read in other reviews. The only crowd on the sidewalks during our pre-Christmas stay were the homeless residents waiting for the Salvation Army to open in the morning across the street from the Andaz San Diego.
Another aspect of the rooftop scene that also resembles Las Vegas are the pool hours from 6am –7pm. The night club scene takes over for the evening.
There is a small fitness center on the rooftop level.
The basement level was being remodeled during our stay. The basement space is apparently another part of the nightclub scene at Andaz San Diego.
The lobby offered computer terminals and little else.
I was happy to experience Andaz San Diego on an ultra-low room rate. There was nothing really wrong with the hotel. There was not much that I found inspiring about the hotel either. We relocated to the Manchester Grand Hyatt mega-hotel on the San Diego waterfront and for me that hotel stay was a much more satisfying hotel experience.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
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