Let me just start by saying that trying to find a budget-friendly hotel for 4 people traveling together (who don't share a parent-child relationship) in San Francisco is right up there with "clipping your dog's toenails" on the list of tedium.
BUT, having said that, the Ocean Park Motel is a gem. It's clean, quiet, the staff are friendly, AND there's free parking. FREE. PARKING. I didn't realize quite what a luxury that was, but I digress.
We stayed in a room with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath and a kitchenette. The bedrooms are decent-sized and one is queen while the other is a full-sized bed. This may be slightly disappointing for people who are used to the space of a ginormous king, but the mattresses are comfy and there are plenty of pillows. The only slight drawback is that there is only one tv, located in the outermost bedroom - piling 4 adults onto one bed to gather around it is not that comfortable, so one person had to sit in the kitchen and watch from there. But seeing as we didn't spend a LOT of time watching tv, this was only a mild inconvenience on a couple early nights. Families traveling with children might find it a bit more of a drawback than we did.
The kitchenette is small, barely room for two people at once, but it's usable and nice to have. The fridge and microwave work fine, there are dishes and cooking utensils, and a small table with 2 chairs, which also doubled as a computer station for us. The bathroom is also quite small, although it was very clean and suited our needs just fine. There is no tub, only a shower. Tall people, have fun with the shower. There's not a lot of room for make-up, toiletries, shaving items, etc. There is a hot tub on the property, which looked nice and private, but you need to retrieve a key from the office and they only hand out two keys at any given time. The policy is to return the key after an hour, but if that doesn't happen... no hot tub for anyone else. We tried a couple of different nights but were never able to get in.
The motel is U-shaped with a row of rooms in the middle - obviously the quietest rooms in the place are located in the middle island, although we didn't notice a lot of noise outside our street-facing unit, either. We're not particularly light sleepers, though. They do provide earplugs for those of you who are. Parking is underneath the units themselves and around the U in parallel slots. We had no trouble finding a space, even when returning later in the evening. About those spaces, though: this charming little hotel was built in 1936, when they had charming LITTLE vehicles. Parking your SUV in one of the garage-like spaces is probably not going to happen. It was an exercise in patience and near-misses just pulling in our Malibu. Since the parking is free, leave your vehicle if you're just hanging around the city. One of the main train lines stops literally across the street, and since it's a turn-around, you'll likely have a seat for the duration of your ride. If you DO decide to drive, be prepared for parking rage, because finding a spot within even several blocks of your destination is hit or miss. Predominantly miss.
We didn't go to the zoo, but it's very nearby, maybe a couple of blocks. The motel is also about 2 blocks from the beach, which looks very nice, but since it was early June and the water was still numbingly cold for us casual swimmers, we didn't take a dip. There's a Safeway just a few blocks away for stocking up on snacks or groceries, and a couple of small cafes also within a few blocks. The line at Java Beach (less than a block away) is long, but your patience will be rewarded.
The staff was very friendly, and the owners, who live on site, were always happy to answer my questions about public transportation and local restaurants, etc. They also provide a handout full of useful information like transportation routes (ask them if you don't see your destination on the handout) restaurants that deliver, obtaining WiFi access (it's FREE!) and more.
A small note about the area: this motel is located in a mainly residential neighborhood which seems to be home to many older Asians. As such, it's clean and quiet - there are no radios blaring at 4 a.m. or drunks screaming loudly on the street. That said, items carried by the local markets serve this demographic, which we found out when we visited the Walgreens a couple streets away for what we considered basic toiletries and food items.
1) It takes a little less than an hour to get here from San Francisco International Airport.
2) The MUNI system is great, but it's not Speed Racer. Plan on about 30 minutes to get to the main downtown station at Market Street (with transfers) and another 30-40 minutes to get up to the Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39 area.
3) A drive up to Cliff House to watch the sunset is well worth it. The nearby Sutro Baths around the same time is also well worth it.
TL;DR version: This is a wonderful, charming, non-chain MOTEL. There's no fitness center, no restaurant, no room service and no concierge. But in terms of what we were looking for in a such a place, The Ocean Park Motel far exceeded those expectations. Does it need a bit of updating? Probably, but it still has unbelievable Art Deco period charm. It can seem a bit cramped, but how much time are you going to be spending in your room? It's VERY worth the price and the accessibility, and we are recommending to all of our traveling friends.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- San Francisco's first motel is an award-winning Art Deco gem where guests enjoy our secluded garden Jacuzzi after a whirl of downtown attractions. Family friendly rates in a variety of rooms, some with full kitchens. Dogs are welcome and enjoy Ocean Beach and nearby Fort Funston. Entirely non-smoking, with free parking, local calls, and internet. Twenty minutes' drive to airport or downtown, with downtown streetcar at door. Near UCSF, SFSU, Golden Gate Park; opposite beach/zoo. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Ocean Park Hotel San Francisco
- Ocean Park San Francisco