When visiting San Francisco, I love to stay at places around the San Francisco International Airport. It’s just such a great place to watch planes from all over the world arrive and depart. Another advantage of hotels around the airport, they offer free airport shuttles to get even closer to the action. Now with a new public Sky Terrace for everyone, not just ticketed passengers, it makes sense to stay at one of these hotels. Parking is not very cheap at the airport parking garages. Of course, there is always public transportation like BART. I wanted to check out the newly opened Sky Terrace and therefore booked a hotel close to the airport. After checking a few rates, the Holiday Inn Express San Francisco-Airport South offered the best rates.
The Holiday Inn Express San Francisco-Airport South is located south of the San Francisco Airport. Would you have guessed 😉
The easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport is with the free airport shuttle. Its a shared shuttle with other hotels in the area and runs every 30 minutes until midnight. After that, you have to call in and request a pickup, before that just follow the signs for hotel shuttles at each terminal.
After arriving at the hotel, I parked in front of the main entrance at the designated spots for people to be able to check-in. Check-in took a while this time. Usually, the check-in process is very quick and easy. Especially at Holiday Inn Express hotels. I asked if there would be upgrades available and the agent was really checking into that, which took a while. But even after checking and letting me know, that they don’t have any better rooms available other than the one I booked, it still took quite a while to get my room key. While the agent was checking me in, I was looking around ant the newly renovated lobby. A lot changed since I was here about a year ago. They just remodeled two weeks before my stay and some minor work is still in progress.
After signing the paperwork for my stay, I grabbed my bags and took them up to my room. I came back down to park my car out back, near the back entrance of the hotel and grabbed the last items out of my car.
Two Queen Beds (Room 250)
I booked the cheapest rate online, which was for a room with two queen beds and was gambling to get an upgrade at least to a King room. Not that I care about the bed size, but usually the rooms have the same footprint and therefore more space available which is not taken up by a bed.
Still, the room had a good size and I definitely been in smaller Holiday Inn rooms like the one near Heathrow Airport in London. Right next to the entrance is the bathroom with a bathtub/shower combination and a nice big vanity. The bathroom is rather small but big enough for what you need it to be. It’s big enough to take a nice shower without having issues getting in and out.
Next to the bathroom door is a little open closet. It comes with the usual stuff like iron, ironing board, hangers for your cloth and the in-room safe.
The rest of the room is basically taken up by the two queen beds on one side and the nightstand in the center between the two. There are reading lights on either side of each bed and plenty of power outlets. Some of them are on the outside of the headboard frame and at the center nightstand. Definitely enough to power all your gadgets and more than most of the hotels offer. As I was just staying there by myself, I used the second bed as a storage place and set up my suitcase for easy access.
Opposite the bed is a TV on top of a closet and with a work desk next to it. On top of the closet is a coffee maker and inside the closet is a refrigerator and microwave. The work desk has a desk on wheels you can actually pull out. Instead of just pulling it straight out and blocking the space between the bed and desk, I turned it by 90 degrees and set it up in front of the window. This would allow me easy access to everyplace in the room.
Even room numbers would give you a bay view, but as the hotel is L-shaped and I was around the corner, I didn’t get a bay view. Just a view of the parking lot below and the neighboring buildings. In the corner next to the window is a chair with a lamp.
I really love the newly remodeled lobby space. The second floor of the lobby is now a complete level, kinda like a loft. It used to be just the stairs going up in the center to the second floor and then branching off to another set of stairs on either side to the third floor. These stairs, from the second to the third level, are still there. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t seen the difference between before and after. I also like the colorful new furniture in the lobby area. It definitely fits in here and the brand.
The lobby has large floor-to-ceiling windows spanning over all three floors. From the one facing the bay, you get great views of planes landing at San Francisco International Airport. If you want better spots to watch planes, just walk out to the parking lot all the way up to the bay. On the far left side of the parking lot is even a bench to sit down and enjoy the views. It’s great to take pictures here, but you need a good zoom lens for frame-filling pictures. It’s always great watching the big planes arrive at SFO like the A380 and Boeing 747s. If you are into planespotting, this is a great spot to come. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you could just walk up to the parking lot and enjoy the views. I have done that before and the staff had no issues with it. I assume it because I told them that I was just out there to take pictures.
But back to the hotel amenities. The fitness center is located on the ground floor. Take the hallway on your right, past the front desk, all the way down and you will find the fitness center to your left. Its room 102 I believe. Inside the same room is also the guest laundry.
The Holiday Inn Express San Francisco-Airport South has a large outdoor pool. Its located right out front of the main entrance and across the driveway. The pool has also a nice deep side on the far side. Depper as usual pools, which only reach about 6ft. Around the pools are plenty of loungers to soak up some sun if it peaks through the often cloudy sky.
A small business center with two workstations and a printer is located in the seating area on the ground floor, next to the doors leading out to the back.
As part of the renovation, the hotel built a new room for the breakfast buffet. Before seating was past the buffet in a tiny room. If you weren’t there early, it always would run out of space to sit down. Once the old breakfast room was full, it was hard to get in and out to get more food from the buffet.
The new breakfast buffet room definitely has a lot of space and its easy to get around to all the food items you need, even when it gets busy. They are still renovating the old breakfast room and I am curious what they transform it into. You get the usual breakfast you are used to from a Holiday Inn Express. Breakfast is complimentary for all guests.
Not there is plenty of seating outside the breakfast buffet room in the newly renovated lobby space. There are more dining tables on the second floor and you just have to take the stairs up. I rather take the stairs and have a good dining table to sit down, than having to wait for someone to leave.
During the evening hours, they set up delicious iced coffee and cookies in the lobby. There is coffee and hot water for tea available 24 hours a day in the lobby. Just outside the new breakfast room and next to the front desk.
Next to the front desk is a small market where you can stock up on snacks, beverages and other items you might need. There is an American Restaurant, called Max’s of Burlingame, close by and they share part of the parking lot. It’s only a few steps from the hotel to the restaurant. The same restaurant also does room service at the hotel but you can’t actually charge it to your room. You have to pay them separately with cash or credit card. I am also not sure how to order room service besides calling their official phone number. There is a button for dining on the in-room telephone but that just brings you to the front desk and they weren’t able to transfer me. I talked to one of the agents earlier and they told me there is a specific extension you could dial to get to the restaurant but it’s not written down. As I still had lots of work to do, I decided to go with UberEats instead.
The Holiday Inn Express San Francisco-Airport South is definitely a great location and offers some decent rates compared to the other hotels in the area. I really love the new lobby layout and style. Just beautiful and way better compared to the previous one. Now they just have to remodel the rest of the hotel. The rooms are in decent shape but the hallways would need some touch up too.
The hotel used to offer free parking but has now a $12 USD daily charge for parking. Which is still decent compared to what other places charge around the area. Thanks to the airport shuttle, which runs every 30 minutes, you have an easy way to get into the city. Take the shuttle to the airport and from there you can take BART, the local train system into the city.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.