Review: Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport (SFO)

I’ve stayed at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport four times this year, and have liked it less and less each time. But while some people have their preferences for Bay Area airport lodging, there’s not actually any hotel option that I’d put down in the ‘really good’ category so I rationalize that I’ve picked up reasonably priced stay credits and progress towards a few Hyatt Gold Passport promotions along the way — all without sacrificing comfort relative to other options by the airport.

It’s a big, busy hotel that always seems to have a conference or convention going on in the lobby when I’m there. The basic exterior facing rooms are perfectly fine, and I’ve gotten a good night sleep after a long haul flight here. My best stay was my first one back in March (hence why I returned). And having a club lounge is convenient, if only for grabbing a few bottles of water before crashing after a day and a half of non-stop travel.

However,

  • I’ve found the shuttle to be unreliable.
  • There’s a club lounge but it’s pretty mediocre. I haven’t enjoyed any of the food offerings there, whether breakfast (modest, sans hot options or any ‘premium’ items) or evening spread.
  • On two of my four stays I was aside interior-facing rooms, as a Diamond even.

My second stay – in May – offered a good example of why I’ve found the hotel frustrating.

They share an airport shuttle with the nearby Marriott. It took over 30 minutes for the shuttle to pick me up at the terminal. When I mentioned this at check-in, the agent next to the one helping me said, “Yeah, they hold them at Marriott.”

Apparently what she was referring to is a tendency of the Marriott to hold the shuttle for its own guests rather than letting it run ontime, either because no guests have come down yet or because they know more or coming.

I realize many airports require hotels to share shuttles, and some hotels like it because they split the costs, but as a I guest I do not like shared shuttles. Too many times a shuttle has arrived already full of guests from the previous hotel with me needing to wait for the next one (and burning time in the process), I usually try to know the shuttle route in advance and only pick a hotel where the shuttle picks up first.

I was given an upgraded room, the only time in four that I received anything other than a standard room on the club floor. It was a junior suite facing interior courtyard.

Since it was my second stay and first with an interior room, I hadn’t internalized how much I wouldn’t like that.

The check-in agent offered both the points and food/beverage check-in amenity, rather than one or the other, as an apology for the shuttle delay. I wanted to go right to sleep but it was promised to be quick. I was fading quickly, no amenity had arrived. That was fine by me – I put the do not disturb sign up on the door and went to bed. After about 90 minutes they came by with the amenity, saw the do not disturb sign on the door, so called and woke me up to let them in.

Then I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I had emphasized how much I wanted a quiet room and was assured that this would be one. I was so tired when I checked in I did not even realize it was a connecting room. I like quiet, and so I hate connecting rooms. This time I was doubly unlucky — a connecting room with very loud people next door.

Since I couldn’t sleep anymore I got up to do some work. The internet signal was very weak (I’ve learned the quality of internet varies from room to room). Fortunately I had my MiFi mobile internet.

The airport shuttle operates much more reliably returning to the airport, since it ‘originates’ at the Hyatt.

Clearly, I’m not a huge fan of the property and I think after four times I’ve gotten a sense of what they’re about. The question is — are there any San Francisco airport properties that are materially better? The relevant competitors are, I suppose, the Westin and Marriott (and I don’t like that the Marriott is the second stop for the shuttle enroute to the airport) – neither of which I’ve heard great things about, though perhaps y’all would disagree?


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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Perhaps the Aloft SFO? It is the newest one, albeit a renovation of an older hotel. I’ve heard mixed things, to be fair.

  2. I actually do like the Marriott, if it’s the San Francisco Airport Waterfront in Burlingame. Have stayed there many times and never had a bad experience. Love the trail behind the property on the water. Love watching the planes. Nice enough club lounge. Always get a good upgrade (I’m Marriott Plat). Last time there I had a room with windows all along the water with a terrific view and could watch the planes from the room. Fabulous buffet breakfast that is free for Plats if the lounge is closed. Nice interior spaces. Never had issues with the shuttle.

  3. I stayed at the DoubleTree (HH Gold) during my Dec 2012 Nation-wide DreamLiner tour and had a very good time room where I asked – to planespot. free breakfast, timely shuttle and cookies!!

  4. It looks like you got a similar room we had when we were stuck for 4 days in SF due to Superstorm Sandy. I thought the concierge lounge is decent, with nice array of standard Hyatt fare. Both the sports bar and the Italian restaurant have pretty good food. It’s also a short walk to Benihana and a chain Mexican place, along with Max’s cafe in the opposite direction.

  5. I had a award-night reservation last month at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero (downtown San Francisco), then learned that a BART strike was going on. That suggested that I would not be able to get from the airport to downtown and back. I called Hyatt and they let me change to the Hyatt Regency Airport with no fee, even though the time was beyond the “too late to change” deadline.

    I enjoyed the hotel, although the shared airport shuttle was a concern…what if it arrived full of passengers from the Marriott?? That didn’t happen, everything was OK.

    You can walk across the street from the hotel and get on the walking/jogging trail that hugs the bay shoreline. Other than that, I didn’t see many recreational / entertainment opportunities in the immediate vicinity.

    My room had a very nice view of the airport, and was comfortable and quiet.

  6. I had the same problem with the shuttle (more than once). I even complained to management. The fact is, it is often faster to go all the way to San Francisco via BART than sit around and wait for the shuttle, and fight for one of the remaining seats. I like the hotel but am unable to book it any longer.

    This is an easily fixable problem, so it baffles me why management continues to penny pinch in this manner.

  7. SFO is half way between the city and the northern tip of Silicon Valley. Thus the hotel cluster there is primarily for airlines crew and random conventions unless you like hiking. The only other options would be to head to the city, easily 45 or more minutes during rush hour or stay at the Four Seadons or Garden Court in Palo Alto. Best to stay at the Regency and take the Hyatt Points

  8. I would have been so mad if they had called me! It is frustrating to be in an area with all older hotels. Our fav in SF-Downtown is the Westin Market Street 🙂 But of course-that’s downtown.

  9. I hate the inside rooms too -always feel stuffy to me. I’ve had lots of different rooms there over the years but they don’t seem to look at Diamonds as a big deal. The lounge is nice and I am glad it is open all day.

  10. I agree about the shuttle issue, wait time of 20-30 minutes from the airport is the norm. They used to have very good rates, under $100, now it’s getting hard to find anything under $125. I’m not sure if their GM with initials S.V. is still around, but he’s not a very pleasant person.

  11. I believe this hotel is a Hyatt Cat 2, so only 8,000 points. I think that is one of the cheapest points options by SFO. I’m sorry you have had bad experiences here. I have 2 stays at this hotel in January and hope my stays go smoother than yours. Thanks for sharing Gary.

  12. I’ve stayed at this property multiple times. Never had major issues with the shuttle. The lounge has much nicer offerings than the Marriott or the Westin. I do not like the indoor facing rooms, but it does not bother me. The restaurants are pretty nice. never had any issues with noise. If the amenity did not show up in 30 min, I would have just called them and let them know I am about to hit the sack!

  13. I don’t know about the shuttle serving the Hyatt, but other shared shuttles at SFO have a published timetable. I’m guessing that might be the same for the Hyatt. Before I learned about the schedule, I would have some long waits. I discovered that during midday hours, there can be as long as 40 minutes between shuttles. Best to know about that & not be standing curbside the whole time. Also, once I knew that I had just missed the shuttle at Terminal 1 (first stop) & I quickly walked to International Terminal (the shuttle’s last stop) & caught that shuttle. Without knowing the schedule, I would have had to wait about a half hour. Ask you hotel in advance for the schedule! It may save you some time & aggravation.

  14. I stayed here recently as well, and also got an interior facing room. I wished I’d gotten an airport view. I also had a shuttle sit empty in front of me, but refuse to allow me on because he was there to pick up “another group,” which never appeared, and then he disappeared with no one on the shuttle. Very frustrating.

  15. It’s quite a bit further, but the Hilton is pretty nice. And usually has nice views of landing aircraft.

    I’ve been underwhelmed by the Westin and Hyatt at SFO. Reviews of the Aloft are not very good.

  16. Gary, next time you are in town you can stay with us! We’re only about 20 minutes south of the airport (less than the shuttle waiting time) and have a strong WiFi in our guest room.

    The one condition is that you would be required to re-create your Colbert Report faces.

    Deal?

  17. The Doubletree is my preferred option, especially if I want a full breakfast (including made-to-order omelettes!) which is free for Hilton Diamonds and Golds. The large combined dining and lounge space is very pleasant. The hotel almost always assigns me to my preferred airport-facing room on one of the two top floors. The Embassy Burlingame has just about the best Bay and airport view, with balconies, but I don’t care for their rates or mobbed scenes at breakfast or in the evening. The Hilton’s not bad, with an executive lounge. But I think the Hyatt’s Regency Club serves excellent fare, including hot evening choices and a very decent enhanced continental breakfast. No need to visit a restaurant! They have hardly ever upgraded this one-time Diamond, however, and if you want an airport view you’ll likely have to settle for a lower floor.

  18. This is a love hate relationship
    On one hand its a Hyatt so we Hyatt supporters
    support it.
    It’s always been somewhat poor historically with elite upgrades but reasonably responsive to guest satisfaction if you speak up
    Its one of those properties that is reactive rather than pro active and has been for many years.

    The dark ugly secret here? Is if you are sleeping on a king size bed you are not sleeping on a Hyatt Grand bed but an old hard bed from many years ago
    If you are in a two bedded room with a smaller bed you are on a true Hyatt Grand bed. The hotel never bought the Hyatt Grand beds in king! Yet they advertise Grand beds. It has been this way for years here!
    I can take or leave the hotel I’m neutral on the property
    overall and not a big fan but would use it in a pinch just because its a Hyatt!

  19. The Hyatt Regency SFO is average, at best. The lounge is about a 4 on a 1-10 scale. If I were Hyatt I would seriously consider some improvements here, because this property is a drag on the Hyatt brand.

  20. Been to SFO several times this year. The new Aloft is good, and is back-to-back with the Westin if you want another option for dining (while still collecing Starpoints). The Crowne Plaza is close to the Hyatt and had its own shuttle last time I stayed. The Embassy Suites looked after me very well last year. Last week I stayed at the San Mateo Marriott which is further away but very pleasant, but they only have one shuttle per hour (I had a rental car).

  21. dead wrong about the shuttle, it makes a loop, airport – marriott – hyatt – airport – marriott – hyatt – ….

    they operate on a schedule, Marriott can’t hold them. If they didn’t stick to the schedule, it’s the operator.

    Every hotel serving SFO must use a shared shuttle. (even if it’s just shared with their parking lot operation as with the Gateway Hilton).

    The comments about the internet are true, they seem to be offering free internet to every group occupying the hotel and they don’t have the bandwidth or infrastructure to handle it. Like all hotels in the Bay Area, they are overflowing with guests these days. They are all running at very high occupancy.

    It’s still one of my favorite airport hotels. The only thing missing from the typical domestic breakfast buffet in the RC is smoked salmon. Otherwise it’s just like every other domestic RC.

    You need to let the GM know about your complaints there, they need to start addressing some of them.

    -David

  22. @LIH Prem – I do understand they make a loop. But it doesn’t operate to its schedule, in my 4 stays this year and other comments above agree. Hyatt staff blame Marriott for holding the operator, I don’t care if it’s the operator’s fault for complying or Marriott’s for asking but it’s a problem I think. Thanks for your perspective! best, Gary

  23. @Gary,

    all I’m saying is that it’s the operator, not Marriott, and it does not normally “originate at the Hyatt”.

    Yes, it’s a problem, and ultimately HR SFO is responsible for solving the problems with the service.

    -David

  24. I had the same question about where to book while staying at SFO. We are not fancy people and only needed a place to stay for the night we arrived and before we flew back home. We’d have a rental car for the rest of the trip so I took a gamble on the Villa Montes, an Ascend Collection (Choice Hotel). It was approx. a 10 min drive from the rental car area, had free parking on the ground level of the hotel, free wifi and continental breakfast which we didn’t eat (Starbucks is a 5 min walk). It was, by far, one of the strangest, quirkiest place we’ve ever stayed. From the faux fur bed skirt to the Hindu Temple themed hot-tub/sauna area. I will say the staff were pleasant and the place was generally quiet. As a bonus for my sub $100 room I was able to credit the stay to US Air and United and extended my miles in both programs.

  25. To your other questions, I find the Westin to be quite variable. They were renovating the property last time I stayed there and talk about mediocre buffets, at least they offer it free to Platinums. Some rooms “smell bad”, some are nice. It’s not a consistent experience, HR SFO is much nicer.

    Marriott can also be quite variable, I used to stay there a lot, but dumped them during the .com boom when their rates were up to $300 per night. Now I only stay there using credit card free nights and while they are very nice and I’ve gotten lounge access just for asking, the room they give me is never very nice. I’m sure there are nicer rooms, I just don’t get them.

    The nicest property might actually be the former Sheraton Gateway, now a Hilton. After their renovation it was a really nice property only Sheraton lost the contract.

    Lucky likes the Aloft. I haven’t tried it.

    -David

  26. Renovations at Westin are quite nice and shuttle reliable (shared with Aloft)but best thing is its a 5 minute walk to In and Out Burger!

  27. Gary, you had one of the better interior suites. We had one on the second floor. It had a patio that overlooked the food prep area of one of the bars. We were seriously looking right down at dirty dishes and trash cans!

    But it gets better.

    There’s a patio area for the 2nd floor interior suites. Seems nice. And then you realize that it is shared with the connecting room to your right! I walked out on the patio and ended up looking right in at our neighbor (who was fortunately just watching TV)! How f’ed up is that? I’m sure it’s cool if you have the 2-BR suite, and thus it’s your own patio…. but another guest should not be able to walk up to your slider and peek in! From then on we locked the door and pulled the shades.

    The worst of it all? We used a suite upgrade. Eh, it was expiring and the family was along.

    Oh, and we also had the same experience with the points + amenity. And it also took an hour. We had to call about it, which makes you feel like an ARSE to ask about your comp amenity! (But it was getting late and we too wanted to go to bed!)

    So yeah, this properties does TRY, but they fail pretty bad.

  28. Larkspur Landing. It’s a small chain (11 hotels, all west coast) of properties with full kitchens. The beds have down duvets. And the self-serve laundry is free. Rooms can be pretty small, but I’ve always enjoyed them.

    The SFO property is north of the airport in the Oyster Point area. I think parking is free, much like the other properties north of the airport.

    I’ve only stayed at this one once or twice because I’m usually using Priceline in the SFO area, and this property will sell out without resorting to p-l. But it is my top recommendation.

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