I recently helped my sister book some rooms during one of Hyatt’s 48-hour sales. She lives in Berkeley and wanted to visit my brother in San Diego. Although driving all the way down there in one go was okay, she decided to take her time on the way back, stopping in Irvine, Santa Barbara, and Monterey on the way home.
In exchange for my help I asked her to take a few notes on the properties from the perspective of someone who doesn’t travel much. Her pictures were lost when she forgot to load a SD card to her camera (really, iPhone photos would have been fine) so you’ll have to do without. But she’s got a mouth and a flippant attitude that make my bad moods look like all rainbows and butterflies, so hopefully you find her reviews as amusing as I did! Of course, I’ve had to clean up the language a bit. I try to keep this blog PG-13. It’s a little lengthy, so skip down to Santa Barbara if you get bored.
Scooty! I have hotel information for you from my trip. I have pictures too but I’m not sure if I can get them to you – I didn’t realize I didn’t have my sd card in my camera, so all the pics I took are on the camera’s internal memory and for some reason I can’t access that on my computer when I connect it. But I’ll try it on a different computer and see what happens. On to the hotels!
This was a small extended stay hotel about 1 mile off the 805 in north San Diego, among a bunch of other extended stay hotels and office parks. There’s not much around there, and it’s about 20 minutes from downtown San Diego and the beaches. Four stories, U-shape around a central courtyard with a nice patio with tables and a hot tub (I think there might have been a pool but I can’t remember).
We had been pre-booked in a room on the 4th floor, which the front desk clerk said was the only renovated floor, so I’m not sure what the other rooms look like. Our room didn’t have the full extended-stay stuff like a kitchen, so it was just a regular guest room with one double (not queen, not king, a double) bed.
Who still has double beds anymore? The room was a bit small but otherwise was fine, there was some paint peeling off the windowsill, but everything else looked fairly new. There’s only one ice machine in the whole place, on the second floor, which was annoying. All the Hyatt hotels had the same toiletries, and even a little tube of toothpaste (yay!). The Wi-Fi was free. The front desk was very helpful and seemed to have everything generally together (which was not true for all of the hotels), so no problems there.
All rooms include a free buffet breakfast which was the second best breakfast of the trip. It was in their restaurant/bar (not like a real restaurant, more like a smallish room with tables and a small bar in the middle). It opens onto the middle courtyard with tables out there too so it was actually really nice. The food included: giant separate bowls of sectioned grapefruit, watermelon, and grapes/pineapple; a bowl of apples, bananas, oranges; a selection of cereals, granola, bread, plain bagels, mini banana muffins, a selection of jam, peanut butter, honey, and cream cheese all in single-serve containers, and a toaster; a few kinds of regular coffee and decaf, orange juice, nonfat and 2% milk, teas, half-and-half; and a hot-food area with chicken fried steak (not too bad), super delicious biscuits, ham gravy, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes, hot oatmeal with brown sugar and dried fruit for topping, and a bunch of asian breakfast food including a giant thing of white rice, miso soup, hot mustard, pickled plums, nori sheets, and packaged ramen. Super tasty.
[At this point I have to butt in and say I agree, it sounds awesome. I haven't stayed at a Hyatt House or Hyatt PLace yet, but I will be in a few weeks when I head down to southern Oregon. The last two times I've stayed at similar hotels, a Holiday Inn Express in Walla Walla, WA, I almost expected them to pay ME to eat it; it was that awful. Even though the automated pancake maker was pretty cool, it was really just an automated rubber patty maker.
This is a good-sized hotel with a small convention center about two miles from Disneyland off the 5. It was by far the nicest place we stayed and had the best breakfast. They have a seven story (or some number) atrium at the entrance and two separate towers of rooms (it looks like they built the towers first then later decided to cover the front "V" they make with glass for an atrium). The atrium is where the main restaurant and breakfast buffet is, a separate bar, a Starbucks, and a prepackaged food-to-go deli are located.
They have two pools and two spas, one set located at the front of the hotel that we used and a second set on the roof of the third floor I think. Each has towels there for the taking. It was really irritating finding the first pool complex because you have to go outside the hotel in the front, around to the left, and there's kind of a hidden gate.
Parking is at the back of the hotel in a lot and if you don’t get a good spot you have to walk pretty far; it’s $15/day. We asked about an upgrade and were able to get a king suite which had a huge front room with a sectional sofa, desk, and TV, then the bathroom, then the bedroom (which was kind of small and had another TV) with a set of doors to separate it from the living room. What I didn’t like about this one was the bedroom was kind of small and didn’t have closets, so they put stand-alone closets on either side of the TV/stand. They weren’t big enough to put a suitcase in so we were kind of stepping over stuff all the time. It was also pretty dark–there were only two bedside lamps for the whole room and all the furniture and decorations were dark browns and greens (definitely going for masculine modern sleek), so it was hard to see anything unless you opened the drapes.
We got a breakfast down at the restaurant; we opted for the buffet over the regular breakfast items (which looked good though) which at this place ran about $19 each I think. This place had the best breakfast ever, it was awesome. We had a server for juice and coffee, and the orange juice was freshly squeezed and delicious. The food items there included: a selection of sliced fruits, plain yogurt, granola and raisins (I think there was watermelon, honeydew, and pineapple); a selection of fresh pastries (a few different muffins, croissants); cereals and milk (there were three kinds of milk, and they were each in milk bottles in ice); bagels and bread and a toaster; and a hot food area with sausage, bacon, whole-grain pancakes, scrambled eggs, french toast, little monte cristo sandwiches (french toast with swiss cheese and ham, super tasty); and finally an omelette station where a really nice guy would make you any kind of eggs you wanted and/or an omelette, and he had a lot of different fillings. Jam on the table.
[Again, I'll interject to say that this is the kind of service I've been fortunate to have at most Hyatt hotels. Although the AVIA Napa was somewhat lax in terms of quality of service, all the elements she describes, like offering a pot of coffee, fresh juice, and a large breakfast selection, are pretty common at the properties I've been to. Her experience reminds me of the Hyatt Regency Dallas. Although the Hyatt Regency Maui had an exceptional setting, at Dallas the server was practically bending over backward to give us whatever wanted.]
I fully and completely hated this hotel. It’s about 2 miles south of the main street/downtown, and it’s right across the street from the beach. I have come to believe Hyatt bought whatever used to be there (I’m guessing something like a larger Best Western) and badly renovated it, then decided to charge ridiculous prices. Do not, under any circumstance, pay for parking. There is tons of completely legal and free street parking (unless maybe it’s a super nice weekend and there are a ton of people?) literally steps from the rooms; we parked closer to our room on the street than we could have in their parking lot, we could see the car from our balcony, and their parking is expensive.
There were almost no people there on Monday night, but when we asked about an upgrade we were only given a king with a balcony that faced the hills (not the beach). I would strongly suggest that if you have a room facing the hills, try to get it on the bottom floor because about two miles away is 101 and it is frickin loud (more on that later). The actual room was fine but the bathroom was pathetic. The door barely cleared the toilet, and you had to maneuver around in there to close and open the door because there wasn’t enough space for a human. Also, huge pet peeve, there wasn’t anywhere to hang towels – there were no towel bars (not enough room), but they had installed two hooks next to the toilet that you were supposed to hang towels on (and they didn’t dry overnight, so we had wet towels in the morning). I mean, really?
The balcony was really tiny and overlooked, wait for it, the half-dozen discount hotels surrounding the Hyatt, some of which had much nicer looking balconies. So basically, the location is not worth the price because you can get it from any of the other hotels. The rooms did not have any kind of central air, so to remedy this they had installed wall air conditioners in each room right next to the head of the bed. This, obviously, is not ideal because 1) ugly, 2) noisy, 3) even if you don’t have it on, it has provided a giant gaping hole in the wall through which you can hear the FREEWAY and also all the $&#%ing birds that chirp in the morning.
If this wasn’t bad enough, there was some kind of low rumbling/humming noise that would go on for about 2-5 minutes, then turn off for 10 minutes, then turn back on ALL THE TIME ALL NIGHT LONG AND ALL DAY ARRRRRGH. I almost went insane. Needless to say I didn’t sleep at all, and ended up getting up at like 7:30 (on frickin vacation!) to go running because I couldn’t figure out what else to do (the endless CHIRPING and CARS).
I went on a serious hunt for that rumbling noise and it was definitely not the ice machine (again, only one in each of two or three buildings of rooms) because that was a floor below down the hall, and it definitely wasn’t the elevator because that was across the hall and about four doors down, and it definitely wasn’t the heating/cooling because there wasn’t any.
Also, the pool was closed that day, which they had not informed us of at check-in. Again, we went for breakfast at their restaurant. We were the only people there, and it was super creepy. They had some interesting things on the menu but we had to leave soon so we got the buffet again, which was pathetic (also, $23 here). Orange juice was not freshly squeezed, they had a small platter of really terrible papaya, ok melon and pineapple. Some sausage and bacon, scrambled eggs and scrambled egg whites, and a small plate (lukewarm) of french toast with a little saucer of breakfast syrup (I doubt real maple syrup) that had a skin forming. And some bagels, bread for toast, and one single croissant that was definitely not from that morning. So, I hated it. So much. AND this was the only hotel that didn’t give us a tiny thing of toothpaste. I WANT MY FREE TOOTHPASTE.
***At this point I realized the first breakfast at the Hyatt Place may not have had scrambled eggs, but they definitely had an egg/potato/veggie/cheese casserole thing (strada?) that was pretty tasty. Also, two kinds of hot sauce.***
This place was ok, probably my second favorite. It’s right in front of a golf course in Monterey, and there’s a huge convention center there that was super full when we arrived. We got a room with a king and a balcony view over the golf course, which I would recommend over facing the other direction because 1) the golf course is really pretty 2) there’s a pretty busy street a few hundred yards in front of the property and the freeway is pretty close, so it might be loud. This place had the most competent service staff, except that our room had no bath towels when we arrived and for some reason housekeeping decided to pay a visit at 8:15am the next morning (to a room we were only staying in one night, so they shouldn’t have shown up until we left).
They fully explained everything about the amenities, and they asked if we wanted an evening turn down service (no one else did). Also, they’ll email the check-out receipt if you’d like, which no one else offered to do. The property is definitely older, but inside the rooms it’s very nice. The bathroom was pretty large with a sliding glass door (Japanese style) instead of the standard one, and a very large shower instead of a bath/shower combo. The balcony was large and had some nice furniture on it. This hotel also had two pools and two spas, and one set also had a firepit, but we didn’t utilize any of those so I can’t really say how they were.
There was a Regency Club here that I tried to take a peek at for you. Basically, they had taken one standard hotel room (or maybe it was a suite) on the ground floor near one of the pools and converted it into kind of a mini clubhouse. It was super cramped in there so kind of not very nice. There were some tables and chairs in there to eat at, but it was pretty packed.
I was reading their hotel info dealy (I did that everywhere but they mostly weren’t very interesting) and this place has a sports bar that has an innovative beverage dispensing idea – there is somehow a personal beer dispensing unit at each table, so you get the beer yourself! But I didn’t go by there so I don’t know how that works.
So that’s pretty much it. I realize most of the info I gave you was about the food, but since we only stayed for one night at each place that’s kind of the only thing we did. All the beds are the same everywhere (and not very comfortable), all the shampoo and conditioner was the same, the soap was all the same except at Santa Barbara (where it was that musty hippy soap and smelled like butt).
So to sum up, my sister’s advice is that Hyatt generally has nice properties, though some are more crowded than others. Service at most is pretty good, but not always consistent. The Hyatt Regency Orange County sounds like one of the winners, but even the Hyatt House in San Diego won praise simply for being very good at offering what it promised: a basic room and a good breakfast. The Hyatt Regency Santa Barbara, however, pretended to be an elite property when in fact it didn’t seem to have any special qualities. I’m curious to know what this hippy soap is in Monterey. At least she didn’t go off on a rant about the Portico White Ginger toiletries everywhere else.