I Went on a ‘Hotel Crawl’ in San Francisco and It Changed the Way I Travel
I dare you to name something better than waking up on a Saturday morning to a tap on the door and someone announcing “room service” while you’re tucked into fluffy white linens and your head is resting on a cloud-like pillow. Can’t think of anything? Me either.
I love hotels. In fact, I wish I could pull a Tinsley Mortimer from “Real Housewives of New York,” and just live in one full time. While that may not be an option for me — right now — I have found a way to fully immerse myself in hotel culture when I travel, and it’s more than just binging on room service every morning. Think back to your college days, or early 20s, and the experience of a bar crawl. Now transform that into a long weekend, but instead of shooting Jager at bar after bar, you take a long weekend and check into three different hotels in three completely different neighborhoods.
Friends thought I was crazy when I did this in February on a weekend visit to San Francisco. “Who wants to have to pack up their stuff three different times?” they repeatedly told me. “Who wants to deal with learning the layout of three different neighborhoods?” Well, I wanted to. So I did.
Here’s what I learned on San Francisco hotel crawl, and what you need to know to try it yourself.
Pick neighborhoods you really want to immerse yourself in.
Going to San Francisco was overwhelming for me, because there are plenty of distinct neighborhoods to experience. After some exhaustive research I narrowed it down to two areas I really wanted to explore, plus one simply based on the fact that I wanted to visit a certain hotel — Virgin Hotels San Francisco. Part of going on a hotel crawl is also experiencing the hotels themselves.
And pick hotels that have a solid hotel bar or restaurant.
Personally, if a hotel doesn’t have a serious place to eat or drink, I’m not interested. A bar or restaurant is a great place to dive into an area because you can have drink or eat a nice meal, and use that time to set up your journey. Over dinner at The Proper Hotel’s Villon (the short rib is insane), my boyfriend and I were able to have an upscale dining experience before hitting some dive bars in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. And at Virgin’s Commons Club, we chatted with local bartenders about their favorite nearby hotspots while sipping on craft cocktails.
Plan your daytime hours ahead of time.
Since you only have a limited amount of hours in each neighborhood, have a rough idea of what you want to do and experience. After taking three years of Japanese in College, I knew I wanted to experience Japantown — so we checked into the Hotel Kabuki, one of the city’s coolest boutique properties and simply wandered the streets our first night. We also knew we could carve out a little time to wonder to the nearby “painted ladies,” a slight cheat, but part of our plan. Just don’t not have a plan because ...
You have to consider your luggage.
Each morning we moved our luggage to the next hotel and considered that area our base for the day. Since we arrived on a Friday, we hit Japantown at the night and then moved to the ultra-chic San Francisco Proper Hotel the next morning. You can easily leave your luggage at the hotel you checked out of, but no matter what you have to be mindful of your bags and where they fit into your plan.
Take time to sleep in and order room service.
Look, you’re on a hotel crawl, so it’s okay to sleep in and just veg out at the hotel. If you don’t want to do anything one day, pick that most comfortable looking hotel and ask for a late checkout, and relax. Did I mention that champagne for breakfast is always a good idea?
A hotel crawl is a good way to find deals.
If you’re on a budget, staying at different hotels each night could save you some cash. One hotel may have a great rate on Sunday night, but be through the roof on Saturday. If you’re smart, you’ll do some research and figure out which hotel is the cheapest when, and then plan your trip in that order.
Pack light, and unpack smart.
On our first night we were too excited for our trip and didn’t consider that we’d have to pack everything up the next morning. Getting ready for our night out we got messy trying to decide what to wear and getting ready. But this isn’t that type of trip. As you get ready or take things out of your bag, be mindful of the mess you make. My advice, pack less — a lot less — than you normally would, and try to put everything back where it belong as soon as you’re done with it. You’ll thank me later.