Hotels

Hotel Review: Four Points San Diego

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After Jeanne got us the $130RT tickets to San Diego during US Airways 30 Days for DC we started looking at hotel we should stay at. She found the Holiday Inn San Diego (North Miramar) on pointbreaks for only 5,000 points which is only 100 days of check-ins via TopGuest, so I jumped on it.

Later on I decided to look at the Starwood properties since I’m only a few stays away from making Platinum and found the Four Points Sheraton San Diego downtown for only 3,000 points. It had formerly been a Holiday Inn, a round one in fact, but it was closer to the main attractions. I cancelled my Holiday Inn reservation and booked them instead.

The morning of our departure I looked at the hotel’s website and saw they had a complimentary shuttle to nearby attractions like the airport and Zoo, as well as complimentary parking. We toyed with the idea of taking the free shuttle everywhere, but in the end decided we liked the freedom of a rental car. All the better that parking was free since we’d been prepared to search for street parking for our one night.

We arrived at the hotel, which is conveniently/inconveniently located right at the exit for I-5 south, and pulled into a 10 minute parking space.

A broadly smiling employee (we think he was the manager) greeted us and pointed us to the tiny check-in desk which was at capacity with two employees. There was a short wait, but it was soon our turn, and despite the early hour, not even noon, and their high occupancy, they were able to put us in a double room on a high floor with a view of the city. The lobby had complimentary tea and coffee and a small cafeteria-like restaurant which apparently also served alcohol.

Older circular hotels pose a challenge for even the best of architects, and they had done a pretty good job making the most of the curved space. The hotel had been a Holiday Inn up until May, which explained why all our google maps and GPS entries kept changing it from Four Points to Holiday Inn, and according to reviews, renovations were still in progress.

Our room on the fourteenth floor had already been updated with a Four Points feel and more, with marble tops on the nightstand and desk and ceramic tile in the bathroom.

There was not a formal closet, but a decent wardrobe. The only part about the room that looked old was the small windows and the stained tub. The TV was flat screen and the coffee maker had both tea and coffee options which was better than my last hotel stay at an Intercontinental.

The thing we liked least about the room was the bathroom, other than the fact only one set of electrical outlets worked in the room. The bathroom had been thoroughly updated, but unfortunately fitted with an ill-fitting sliding door that allowed for an inch or two of visibility between the door and the wall when it was closed. This corresponded with the line of sight with the toilet, making both auditory and visual privacy impossible. Even the best of friends would have cause for self-consciousness or a desire for watching TV at high volume.

 When we checked in it turned out I had been looking at the other Four Points San Diego on Aero Drive, and parking here was $17 a night. We asked the clerk about alternatives and he mentioned Second Ave directly behind the hotel had both metered and unmetered spots if we wanted to risk it. Since we were headed out directly to the zoo after we dropped off our luggage, we decided to risk it. Returning from our Friday afternoon adventures we drove down Second Avenue, finding several metered spots which would require meter payment starting at 8AM on Saturday and several unrestricted spaces directly on the bridge which were inaccessible only on Wednesday nights.

Having saved $17, we headed back to our room to spend it on room service. The room service menu was quite reasonable as room service menus go. $2.50 delivery charge and 18% gratuity. Food prices weren’t bad, with most options ranging from $8-$15 depending on whether you got a plain burger or a strip steak. The napkins were paper and the ice water was served in plastic cups, which is what we’d expect for such a good value.

I opted for the chicken fingers (6 for $7.95) and Jeanne got the California BLT with fries ($9.95). My chicken fingers were great and while Jeanne’s BLT was a little light on the mayo, her fries were amazing! They were also willing to bring us two wine glasses for the bubbly we’d procured earlier.

When we got back to the room the first thing Jeanne did was go in search of some ice to chill our wine. She saw a sign for ice in the hall and wound up circling our floor multiple times with no success. I eventually joined in the search ending up at the same soda machine Jeanne did, which was the logical place for an ice machine. The placard on the side proclaimed vending on odd floors, which made no sense since we were on the 14th floor and looking at a vending machine.

As a last resort we headed down the stairs immediately outside our room, discovering incidentally, that our hotel had no 13th floor. The one flight of stairs took us out to the 12th floor where there was an ice machine.

At least the bright spot was that 1406 was the closest you could get on the 14th floor to an ice machine…

The next morning I woke up early and decided to check out the gym, which I knew was by the pool. I went down to the lobby and found the ATM and the bathrooms, but no pool or gym before the corridor deadended. I asked at the desk and was instructed to walk outside, go through the gate of the pool, and the gym would be at the end of the pool area.

I walked outside and saw the gym, a little lighted glass box accessible only from the pool but visible (in 5AM darkness) to anyone outside in the area. Bleh. I used my card to get into the pool area, noting used towels left over from the night before, and the used my card again to access the gym which had just opened at 5.

The gym has a treadmill, a stair stepper, a bike, an elliptical, and a bunch of free weights. It had a TV with sound in the corner, so I was glad I was the only one and could pick what I watched.

It also had one set of headphones, fresh towels, and a water cooler. Not posh, but better than many hotels. The only thing I really didn’t care for was the fact that anyone on the hotel grounds could clearly see me working out. A fact which further disconcerted me when I saw the folks on smoke break outside when I’d walked into the gym were still there when I came out an hour later.

Checkout several hours later was smooth, although our room service wasn’t appearing on the bill, so they said they’d check with the restaurant and get back to me. The Four Points isn’t fancy, but for only 3,000 points or $100ish a night it’s a great deal!

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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

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