One of the few good value hotels in the San Francisco area – Comfort Inn & Suites San Francisco Airport North

As part of my “Battle of the Budget Hotels”, I picked the Comfort Inn San Francisco Airport North for a short stay near the San Francisco airport. It’s an older style motel, but in good shape and good value in one of the most expensive areas of the country. Read my review to find out why I give it a thumbs up!

Location: The Comfort Inn is one of many hotels in the commercial area around the San Francisco International airport, 4 miles North on the 425a exit of Highway 101. While it’s right next to the highway, the roads are a little confusing. They have a complimentary shuttle to the airport, running every 30 minutes and the Caltrain station with access to San Francisco downtown is just 500m away, getting you into The City in 30 minutes. It’s a commercial area, but there are no stores or restaurants in the immediate vicinity.

Service/Rewards: The service at the hotel was friendly, more so than at other more expensive hotels in the area. I was checked in quickly and my Choice Privileges Platinum elite status was recognized, in a fashion… apparently, I was the first Platinum member for this agent and he was reading the instructions as he was checking me in. He ended up with a bell and a team cheer to welcome me – we both had to laugh. It was probably the funniest and most awkward elite welcome I’ve ever had… He assigned me a quiet, higher floor room as requested, but there were no other elite “benefits”.
Housekeeping had prepared the room well, it was clean and all amenities stocked. I was able to get coins and detergent at the lobby to do some laundry while I was there. The restaurant staff was also on top of their game, the breakfast room was clean and the buffet was stocked at all times, despite being busy.
The service was very good for a budget hotel, a pretty consistent experience at the Choice hotels I stayed at and a stark contrast to the Wyndham hotels I tried, which were not nearly as good!

Room: The Comfort Inn is an older, motel-style property with three buildings around a courtyard and exterior corridors. There is no gate to the street, which is ok but not ideal. My room was on the top floor to the courtyard. Because the highway and main roads run around the hotel, the interior facing rooms are much quieter – see the map for room numbers to choose!
cal-comfortinn-sfo-roomplanI booked a king-bed suite and it featured a sitting area near the entrance and the bed behind a half-height, mini-wall. cal-comfortinn-sfo-liveA work desk with chair, drawer set with the TV, small wardrobe and mini-fridge, microwave and coffee/tea maker completed the room. The room is very big, roughly 25% more than a standard room, so it would even work for longer stays.
cal-comfortinn-sfo-bed2While the room decor and furniture was older and could use a renovation, everything was in very good condition and the room had received thoughtful updates, including fresh paint, new carpets and extra power outlets and USB ports for your gadgets. I can live with an older hotel, if it is this well maintained and up-to-date from a functional perspective.

cal-comfortinn-sfo-amenities-cThe bathroom has a sink with lots of space on the countertop, a toilet and a shower-over-tub combination with a curved rod and curtain. The tiles showered some discoloration – while clean, it didn’t look good and good use replacement sooner than later.
cal-comfortinn-sfo-bath-cThe free Wifi internet was not very reliable and speed varied greatly – from having no internet to unusably slow at 0.2Mbps to fast at over 20Mbps, suggesting that they don’t have enough bandwidth for the size of the hotel. I was able to get some work done in the morning, but don’t expect to stream movies in the evening!

Restaurant/Amenities: The hotel has an outdoor pool in the courtyard, surrounded by a lovely metal prison fence and dry/dying lawn. I realize the fence is for safety and it was a dry summer in California, but it just makes for a very unpleasant environment. cal-comfortinn-sfo-poolcourtyardThe hotel has a small gym with one treadmill, one bike and a combination weight machine in a small room – a “checklist” type of gym that will allow for only the most basic workout. cal-comfortinn-sfo-gym-cThere is also a small laundry room with washer and dryer. It is in the back of the property near the street, but has key card access so your laundry is safe. It was clean and worked well. There is plenty of outdoor parking around the hotel for a fee of $6.48 per day, not free but reasonable giving the location.
The breakfast was another positive surprise. It had a typical selection of fruit, yogurt, cereal and pastries as well as hot meats, eggs and waffles. It all was a little above average in quality and made for a full and satisfying breakfast, if not a very healthy one. There is plenty of seating in small rooms, the lobby as well as outside in the courtyard, so despite being busy it didn’t feel like a cafeteria or crowded. They made the most of the room they have.

cal-comfortinn-sfo-courtyardseatingBottomline: At a price of $142/night, the Comfort Inn San Francisco Airport North provided a well-kept room, good breakfast and friendly service at a bargain price for San Francisco. A similar Holiday Inn or Hampton Inn around the airport – as well as some other budget chains – typically charge 40% more, making this a very good deal. Granted, you have to make do with outdoor corridors (not a favorite of mine) and a decor well past its prime, but it’s all clean and in good condition, which is more than you can say for other hotels in the category. With the Caltrain station nearby, this could even work for a visit to San Francisco on a budget, where downtown hotels on weekdays often cost more than $250 for rooms of similar quality!

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