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Hotel Review: Red Roof Inn (San Francisco Airport)

San Francisco (Alaska Pre Cruise) . 2012 . September 13

This post is part of our Alaska Pre and Post Cruise Report and follow-up of our popular Alaska cruise series. Do check out our Alaska Cruise story too if this is your first time here! :)

San Francisco is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city to visit but prices of hotels in downtown San Francisco could get pretty steep at times, especially on day where large scale conference are held.   Typically,  the highest citywide hotel occupancy rate occurs in summer (July and August), and business travel is at its height in September and October, when many of the largest conventions take place. So do consider the above when you are planning your next vacation to San Francisco.
For travellers on a tight budget or if you are travelling to embark on an Alaskan Cruise, the next best alternative would be to stay at the airport hotel where rates are lower.  On the flip side, it also means that you will have to spend about an hour commuting from your hotel to the city via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit).

Note: Traveling on the BART from the airport to downtown is not cheap either (a one way ticket cost USD$8 plus per pax), so be sure to factor this cost into your budget.

Amongst the airport hotels, Red Roof Inn San Francisco Airport had the most competitive prices and was also ranked among the top airport hotels when we did our research on tripadvisor before our trip (Spoiler: It was actually not as good as it claimed! Do continue to read our full review). We actually checked in here twice, once before the Alaska Cruise in mid September 2012, and two weeks later in late September when we returned from our cruise and a short stay at Seattle.

Here's our full review of our stay at the Red Roof Inn San Francisco Airport.

Complimentary Shuttle Service

Most or all the airport hotels would provide a free complimentary shuttle service from the airport to the hotel.  These are usually mini-vans or buses that plough the route between the hotel premises and the airport in a loop.

Waiting point for all hotel shuttles are outside the arrival hall.  Signages are everywhere to direct you to the correct stand, and you simply need to wait in the shelter and keep your eyes peeled for the bus bearing the name and logo of your hotel.

There are also free phones available for you to contact your hotel to check for arrival times of the shuttle.

The Red Roof Inn San Francisco Airport shuttle bus is easily recognizable with a black exterior bearing the red logo of the Red Roof Inn. It is a shared shuttle service with the nearby Doubletree Hotel San Francisco Airport.

Of all the shuttle services that we had been on, we must say that the Red Roof Inn San Francisco Airport ranks among those with the most comfortable and reliable ones.  The mini bus is brand new with leather seats, comes with warm internal lightings, and is spacious and clean.

Reception Area 

Check in counter at the Red Roof Inn.  We had taken an early morning Southwest flight from Los Angles to San Francisco and reached the hotel before check-in time. There were no rooms available for an early check in, so we had to leave our luggage at the reception and come back later.

Basic computer facilities for checking of flight times and printing of boarding passes.  There is a sofa for hotel guests to relax while waiting.

The Room

The room carries a bold and modern décor with use of vibrant colours, however,  it is somewhat small for an airport hotel, with hardly any space to walk with our luggage lying around.  As the premises had undergone a recent renonvation, furnishings are mostly clean and untarnished.

There's a small study table for business travellers. For us, it serves its purpose of a small dining table.

Photo of the bed taken from another angle. Notice the black windows on the top right of the photo. The corridor is just outside. You can draw the curtains to enhance your privacy.

There is also a stowed iron table with a open concept wardrobe. The wash basin is outside the bathroom, which we felt a little unusual.

The Bathroom

Bright and modern furnishings extend even to the bathroom, complete with a bath tub.

The Surroundings

View from the corridors of our room at the Red Roof Inn San Francisco Airport during daytime. Generally quite a nice view, especially if you considered that this is an airport hotel. We were lucky to see the river and trees rather than runways and control towers! :)

The Red Roof Inn San Francisco Airport has a rather open concept similar to that of a motel.  We were rather unused to this kind of arrangement as there was a general lack of privacy.  Security concerns were also at the top of our minds.

Dimly lighted corridors outside our room during night time. We had to draw the curtains fully before we felt comfortable to sleep...

vWe have requested for a higher floor and were assigned on the 4th floor on our first stay. Those staying on the ground floor have their rooms adjacent to the carpark. This might be useful for those who have rent a car with their cars outside their rooms. However, security is a concern though.

We were assigned the highest floor (5th floor) on our 2nd stay. Notice the other block in the photo. The hotel consists of several blocks of rooms in its compound.

Although we were relatively happy with the room given on our first stay, the same could not be said of the next stay.  In that instance, as we checked in relatively late, we were given a room in a dark and dim corner furthest away from the main building.  Security issues aside, the room was in a poor state with visible dark stains on the bath tub. Bath towels were also not clean.  Fortunately, it was only a one-night stay for us! This was probably the worst room in the hotel (We hoped!) and certainly one of the worst rooms that we have ever stayed!

View of nearby Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco Airport from hotel. Another option for those who wants to stay near San Francisco Airport for a early morning flight.

As we were writing this blog post, we went to Tripadvisor to read other reviewers' comments on the hotel and saw this! The hotel is now ranked #12 out of 12 hotels in Burlingame (i.e. San Francisco Airport area). This differs greatly with its ranking (#3 out of 12) at our point of booking in September 2012.

Notice the red coloured paragraph message from Tripadvisor in the above screenshot, which we have enlarged below.

This confirms our suspicion that the high ranking that the hotel has achieved might be due to manipulation. Previous user reviews in Tripadvisor had numerous compliments for the staff and service of the hotel. This is certainly something that we didn't really experience during our two stays. Furthermore, the dirty room that we were assigned for our second stay really make us consider twice if we are going to stay with Red Roof Inn again. 

Verdict:  The Red Roof Inn does offer competitive rates, but we will prefer to try out another airport hotel if we were to visit San Francisco again. Nearby Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco Airport Burlingame seems a quite attractive choice, especially after our pleasant stays in a number of Hampton Inns (owned by Hilton group as well) in New York! :)
Red Roof Inn San Francisco Airport
777 Airport Blvd,
CA 94010,
United States

Read all reviews about Red Roof Inn (San Francisco Airport) at TripAdvisor!

This post is part of our Alaska Pre and Post Cruise Report and follow-up of our popular Alaska cruise series. Do check out our Alaska Cruise story too if this is your first time here! :)

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