1380 Harbor Island Drive, San Diego, 619-291-2900.
Located directly on the San Diego Bay, this hotel has panoramic views of the downtown skyline and the bay. Sort of out of town and away from the crowds and excitement, it is less than a 5-minute drive to the Gas Lamp District. The hotel has two towers, over 1,000 guest rooms, five restaurants, and lounges, a pool, Jacuzzi, spa, gym, and tennis courts. Like any other big city chain hotel, there were a lot of people there, a convention hosting meetings in-house, and lots of employees able to help but hard to locate. This is not a fancy hotel. Although well-maintained and very clean, it is kept at a very standard level, meaning you won’t find any bells or whistles here.
The East Tower has the sport facilities and spa, while the West Tower supposedly has the larger rooms with seating areas. The West Tower is where they put most of the convention people, we were told. Every room was equipped with Sheraton’s new "Sweet Sleeper" bed, balcony (bay or marina view), Internet access via the TV and data ports, free newspapers during the week, ironing board, hair dryer, etc. The bathroom was one room; nothing was separated (not even the tub and shower), and it was your standard, very basic bathroom. The room itself was fine, we had a standard marina-view room, and it was big enough to move around comfortably, but there was not much extra space. There was definitely a lack of lighting, though, which is annoying when you are trying to get ready.
The pool area was very small. It had about six lounge chairs and four or so regular outdoor chairs. The pool is located on the marina side and gated—obviously not a big attraction for this hotel, as we were the only two there most days. The hotel’s award-winning restaurant, Alfiere’s (619/692-2778, http://www.alfiereonline.com), serves Italian-Mediterranean fresh market cuisine. If you go to their website, they often update it with coupons, like ½ a bottle of wine. The parking charge is $16 a day, and the phone calls from the room start at $2—pack a cell phone or calling card. It is also important to note that off the lobby there are a row of pay phones, so for those who are less lazy, there are ways to avoid those high phone costs.
The walls were paper-thin and done in that standard yucky yellow/gold hotel wallpaper. Interestingly enough, one night, the front desk checked another couple into our room while we were still scheduled to be there. They tried to get in during the middle of the night—like 2am. We were awoken after they started to shake the door a bit and play with the doorknob. I called the front desk in the morning, and they were very honest about the incident, although they didn’t find much fault since the guests were not able to get in. After some complaining, the manager worked with us, but that was scary; thankfully, we always use the deadbolt.
The hotel offers limited service, upon request, to and from the airport. Although not exciting, it is interesting to note that during the early morning hours of one day during our stay, the space shuttle Columbia that crashed in Texas flew over the hotel (although very high in the air/space), and we were able to hear it. The sound actually woke us up because it was so loud and very different than any normal sound of a plane. Later that morning, when we were watching the news, we heard that the shuttle had in fact flown over Southern California and had obviously crashed. Recommended.