The big (misleading) plus: Close to the San Mateo Convention Center. Granted it's a walk through a back alley, possible sweat shops, and close by the South Bay's largest XXX store (neon purple lights on a black building). The proximity, never having been here before was the only reason I chose to stay here, that and the fact that there were no other options for less than $250 due to the huge event.
The owner operator seems to be a nice guy, they even have a sweet picture of a nice bridge in the lobby giving you the first impression that things will be ok, straight forward. Nope. 1st, they made me pay when I thought I had paid through the 3rd party hotel website. Weary, I felt I was about to be swindled when I all I wanted to do was check in, go to my room, study for a major 2 day exam the next day at the SMCC.
Reluctant, I ended up talking to someone, put on the phone by the front desk girl (possibly a relative of the owner) of someone who seemed very far away who convinced me that I even though I game all my payment info, I still needed to pay the hotel directly! Tired, I gave up. It seems to have been done properly, but what a weird way.
The room: big, empty. I was greeted by a pot light above the entry that was bright orange (red I can get, but orange?). Seating and tables don't exist and the lighting is atrocious (and I like it dimly lit). I had to move the only skinny table from against the wall to on front of the TV to have some space to put a book and get light from the TV. I unscrewed the bulb and took it to the owner and politely asked for another. He immediately blamed the lighting contractor and couldn’t believe that was put in, almost as if he let's contractors do what they want then not check them.
He said they had no extras, and when I suggested I go to the convenience store to buy one for him, he proceeded to take out one from the lobby. For some reason, this one was very hot and I had to carry it back with a blanket to avoid a caustic burn. Then there's the toilet paper: This unit had one that was 1/3rd remaining, and the expected folded triangle was replaced by an 12" dangling shred that somehow survived the nigth before my arrival. I'm all in favour or not wasting paper, but just keep in mind this possibility if this might bother you.
The Negative(s): Let's just say this hotel has clearly been here a long time, yet the outside makes it look "fresher". That idea of lipstick on a..., comes to mind. The walls are paper thin, possibly even made of cardboard. Located about 3/4rths to the back side, I could hear everything: Neighbors snoring, shouting, but worst of all, the spontaneous timing of the AC/heater unit, which sounds like a jet engine in the middle of the night. If you happen to nod off while staying here, you're lucky, as I almost fell asleep, I was woken by the a dumpster at 3am (Friday) which sounded as if it was trying to lift the same dumpster over and over and shake it 300 times, followed by what sounded like it was scrapping its way through a space between cars a fraction of its width, and followed by the 10 minute schedule of the Cal train running through the room starting at about half past hell. I didn't sleep one minute the first night, and can verify that the "wake up call" was not followed through with either, on 2 days. I got 4 hours sleep the next night.
I paid $145 to stay here, and have stayed in place all around the world. I would not dare say that there are worse places in 3rd world countries, as, come to think of it, they were a treat, unique, and part of the experience, and this joint is in a category of its own in the Western World.
Lastly, because check out time is 11 or 12 and because event at the SMCC can go to the end of the day, the owner was very cool about letting us keep our car at their parking lot for the day and didn't tow it. In the end, it's those kind of touches that make it all worthwhile.
Maybe this is some sort of initiation for taking these exams, but I feel as if there must be better solutions, and it's possible everything was just amplified due to a lack of sleep, but my expectations for a joint in San Mateo were very low, so it's not as if that were the reason (low expectations).
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