Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Rate-A-Hotel: San Francisco's Hotel Tomo

Hotel: Hotel Tomo

Location: 1800 Sutter Ave., San Francisco (Japantown)

Type of hotel: It's a Best Western hotel, but managed by the boutique chain Joie de Vivre.

We stipulated: For Maria's birthday, we decided to spend a long weekend up in San Francisco. Coincidentally, Joie de Vivre had just sent out an email announcing its birthday promotion -- stay at one of its hotels, and receive $100 in credit. We've stayed at Joie de Vivre hotels up in SF before, and have found them to be charming enough. Meanwhile, we'd been meaning to try Joie de Vivre's Hotel Tomo for some time, particularly after Maria's brother and his family had stayed there. Given the fact that the kid and the baby were tagging along, we thought they'd get a kick out of the Japanese anime-styled decor. We were right.

They stipulated: First-come, first-served parking is $20/night. Mums, a Shabu-Shabu-themed restaurant, is on the first floor. And one of the hotel rooms has been remade into an exercise room.

High point: "This is the best hotel ever!" said the five-year-old, who has stayed in quite a few nice hotels in his first half-decade. Our third-floor room came with a bay window and bench, with views of the nearby Japantown neighborhood. The clock radio came with an iPod dock (which should now be a requirement for all hotels). And the location is central -- making most parts of SF a quick car, bus or cable car ride. (Yes, the California cable car line -- the one without a wait -- is a quick walk.)

Low point: The hot water didn't work one day -- but in exchange, the hotel comped our parking. (That part should actually be among the high points, as that saved us $60.) The lobby was smaller than the pictures we saw made it out to be. There's no coffee maker in the rooms -- only a hot water pot to make tea (or instant coffee).

Overall impression: An extremely friendly and helpful staff, cool decor (each room includes a different anime-style mural), economical prices (we managed to get a deal even better than the aforementioned $100 off) and a great location (close to Fillmore, a brisk walk to Union Square and Chinatown, etc.) makes this a solid choice for a Bay Area visit. We even managed to land a parking space whenever we returned -- although it appears that we were lucky.

Chance we'll go back: If Blogger Kid has his way, yes.

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