Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island Review

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It was a very long day at work. I was looking for a place to stay overnight here, as I had to be back early in the morning. As I only needed one night and I knew there was an Amex offer to stay at a Hilton, I checked out the Hilton app to maximize my stay if there would be any hotel available for a decent price. I decided to head over to the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island and check it out before making a reservation as I was unfamiliar with that area of town. I decided to book the hotel for that night and made the reservation right in the hotel parking lot.

Location

The Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island is located only about a five-minute drive away from the San Diego International Airport. It is located on Harbor Island in San Diego. It’s not an actual island, it’s a peninsula. From the hotel, it’s less than 15 minutes to get to downtown by car. If you don’t shy a bigger walk, you can even walk to downtown from the hotel.

Behind the hotel is a marina and you can see planes taking off from the airport as well.

Marina behind the Hotel

Across the street from the hotel is the Harbor Island Park. The park offers great views of the bay, downtown and North Island Naval Air Station. At night you can catch good views of the downtown skyline from here.

Check-In

I arrived late at the hotel. The sun had already set. In front of the main entrance of the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island are a few dedicated parking spots to check in which allow a maximum parking time of 15 minutes. I walked up the small set of stairs to get into the hotel. There is an ADA-compliant ramp right next to the stairs as well.

Inside you find the front desk to your right. One agent was available and helped check me in right away. I booked a room with two Queen Beds because it had the cheapest rate. During check-in, I got asked if I need two beds. I told the agent, that I don’t mind if they give me a room with only a King Bed. She helped me out and changed my room to a King Bed and even upgraded me to a “nicer” view room with a marina view. More about that later. She also activated my room key to be used at the parking lot gates to get in and out. Of course, you get charged for parking here which is $25. Parking lots are located on either side of the hotel. Luckily this time I only had a backpack and didn’t need to get any luggage out of my car. This would be a little bit different here, as you have to use the ramp to get up to the entrance.

King Bed (Room 414)

My room was just off the side of the elevators but the noise was never an issue. As you walk in you have the bathroom to your right. The bathroom is rather small and there is not much space between the vanity and the shower/bathtub combination on the other side of the room. It’s also very a short bathroom and gets a little cramped as you try to close the bathroom door. The hot water handle was hard to open and close. Just outside the bathroom is a standard-sized wall closet. Next to the bathroom door is a small table that houses a coffee maker and an ice bucket.

Contrary to the bathroom, the room itself is very spacious. The King Bed had a nightstand with a lamp on either side. The bases of the lamps have power outlets to be able to charge your devices. Next to the bed is a sofa which you can transform into a sofabed to be able to sleep two. It won’t be very comfy if you sleep two people on there, but it’s better than no bed at all.

As usual, you have a TV opposite of the bed for the best viewing angle. You can rotate the screen so you can watch TV either from the sofa or from the bed. The closet on which the TV sits houses the in-room safe as well as a small refrigerator. Besides that, you have some extra storage area for your belongings.

Refrigerator and Safe

Next to the closet with the TV is a work desk which comes with an office chair. There are a few power outlets at the base of the desk lamp.

The room comes with floor-to-ceiling windows and a sliding door which gives you access to a small balcony. As it looks like, every room has its own little balcony at this property. It’s not much. On the balcony are two chairs and a small table. A great spot if you decide to grab some food and have it in your room. Perhaps for breakfast? Be reminded that even the balconies are no-smoking areas.

Public Areas & Amenities

In the lobby are a few chairs to hang out and relax. Overall it is a well-decorated lobby space. In front of the elevator, you can find the business center. It offers a few workstations and printers.

When you follow the hallway towards the northwest from the elevator looby you get to the fitness center. The fitness center is well-sized and has a good selection of workout equipment. To access it, you need your room key.

The pool and whirlpool are located outdoor on the west side of the hotel building next to the fitness center. You will need your room key as well to access the pool area.

In case you need a shuttle to the airport, the hotel offers on-demand and complimentary airport shuttle service during the hours of 4:30 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. For reservations just call the front desk.

Dining

Hilton changed their breakfast benefits for elite members recently. Instead of receiving free breakfast, you receive now a credit every day, which can be used for breakfast, items from the market place or any other food purchases at the restaurant. The breakfast starts at 6:30 a.m. at the Panorama Bar & Grill. As I had to head out to work earlier, I asked if they had a to-go back. A few minutes later the front desk agent emerged from the back and gave me a small bag. Inside was not much: a water bottle, protein bar, yogurt, apple and peanut butter spread. I have no idea what I was supposed to do with the peanut butter spread, as there was no bread or anything in the bag for which a normal person would use it. The yogurt and protein bars were not even in my flavor and I have enough water at work. Basically, it was a completely useless bag for me but they still charged me $12. Can you believe that?

Panorama Bar & Grill

This is the main and only restaurant on site that serves breakfast lunch and dinner. It is separated into a dining room and lounge. Breakfast is served in the dining room only while the rest can be enjoyed in either area. The lounge is more like a bar with comfy seats while the dining room comes with dining tables. Both have an outdoor area on a small but long patio overlooking the marina. The lounge part of the patio has high chairs and a long countertop along the railing while the dining room has tables with two chairs each.

After I had checked in, I went down to grab dinner. I asked if I could sit outside on the patio overlooking the marina. Unfortunately, it was already dark and therefore not much to see. I love outdoor dining, even way before Covid started. I had breakfast once at the hotel in the dining room. The service was good and I can’t complain about the food. It’s a decent American restaurant. For a hotel that size, the dining room was pretty empty for breakfast.

Panorama Bar & Grill would normally also fulfill the room service requests which were not offered during my stay. I got told because of Covid but I think it’s more because of staffing issues which is of course an issue because of Covid. More about the Covid situation later.

Sundries Market

Next to the front desk is a small market that offers snacks and beverages. To get in you have to use your room key to unlock the door or later during the night, you have to talk to one of the front desk agents to unlock it. They have a pretty good selection of snacks, beverages and other essentials. They also sell some over-the-counter medicine.

Sundries Market

Conclusion

Overall it was a great stay without any complications. But I also only used it to sleep a few hours and get something to eat at night and in the morning. The rest of the time I was out working. Even though, I got told that I was upgraded to a marina view room on the 4th floor. I think a 4th-floor room with a view of the bay would have been better. Most of the view got blocked by part of the hotel building. I am also a little disappointed that I didn’t receive a real upgrade as a Hilton Diamond member. When I booked, the room had availability to book these rooms still but I checked in at around 8 p.m. I highly doubt that they would sell out for the night and they only have to give me the upgrade for one night. It’s not that I really needed the room upgrade as I really just used the room to crash for the night. However, you feel appreciated after all the time and money you spend with a particular hotel chain.

In regards to Covid, it seems this hotel opted out of the Clean Stay promise. I didn’t even know that this was a possibility. Normally you find the stickers on your room door that it was “thoroughly” cleaned. To be honest, I never trusted the “Clean Stay Promise”. Housekeeping personnel is one of the lowest-paid workgroups at a hotel. At this point of the pandemic, many hotels are dealing with a labor shortage, especially for low-paid jobs, as many just get more money to sit at home and do nothing. At other hotels which had the clean stay seal on the room door, I also noticed that they removed high-touch items from the room like the small hotel directory booklet which was still in my room here. I don’t want to complain too much about that, I never really felt “unsafe” at hotels during the whole pandemic and I never stopped (essential) traveling.

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