Wondering where to stay in San Francisco with a bigger family? Venture just outside the city to the Embassy Suites San Francisco Airport Waterfront. Spacious, less expensive and just a short drive from downtown San Francisco.
I’m so excited to finally get to start sharing our trip to San Francisco and Northern California! To start things off, I thought I’d share what probably took me the longest time in the planning process – where to stay.
You see – one thing I wasn’t aware of about San Francisco before planning this vacation is that the majority of the hotels in San Francisco only allow 4 people per room. It has to do with fire code, and although some people told me I should just say there were only 4 people in the room, I had read many things saying that it’s a pretty strict rule and you could lose your hotel room if you are caught. So – since a) I’m a rule follower and b) it was out of the question to get 2 rooms since my kids are too young, I knew I had to do some more research.
I seriously spent hours looking for hotels. And I started to wonder if this vacation was a mistake. And if San Francisco just wasn’t in the cards. And I seriously wondered how families of more than 4 were able to vacation there. I checked out sites like airbnb.com and vrbo.com – seeing if going that route would work. But since we were in prime tourist season, the rates were just way outside of our budget. So I started searching outside of the city.
After searching in several different areas, we decided to focus on the area around the airport. We knew there would be access to public transportation (we knew we wanted to take transportation to a baseball game) and typically, airport hotels are in decent neighborhoods.
I ended up going with the Embassy Suites San Francisco Airport Waterfront. The price was right, we could all fit in the room, plus there was a water view, which you can’t pass up when it’s an option!!
There were some definite pros and cons, (which I’ll discuss below), but overall, I know we made a great choice.
Embassy Suites San Francisco Airport Waterfront is located on San Francisco Bay, just minutes from the airport. It was renovated in 2014, is an all-suite hotel, and is close to public transportation.
The hotel has an open-air area in the center of the hotel full of plants and ponds filled with koi fish. Those fish alone kept my kids occupied! They named them and followed them around, and I think they would have rather stayed to “play” with the fish than to go out on the town!
One of the biggest pros for this hotel is the size of the room. You walk into a living area with a couch that pulls out into a bed. (And excuse the family photo bombs – they all obviously didn’t want to wait for mom to take her pictures!!)
There is a flat screen tv in the front area, as well as a large desk.
The front living area leads back into the bedroom. There is also a door here to separate the areas if needed.
The bedroom had 2 double beds.
I would have definitely preferred for the room to have 2 queen beds (there was enough room – the room is large enough), but we made it work. We ended up putting 2 kids on the sofa bed, my husband in one bed, and I was in the other bed with another child. Although not really ideal, it totally worked and we all slept very well.
My husband appreciated that there were 2 tvs in the room – one in the front area and one in the bedroom area. The kids could easily watch cartoons up front while he could watch what he wanted in the back.
The bathroom was not very big, but not the smallest hotel bathroom I’ve seen. The biggest downfall was that I could not figure out how to plug the bathtub for the kids to take baths, so we ended up doing half showers. It would have saved water if we could have done baths, but we made it work.
Another plus to the room was that there was a refrigerator and a microwave. We didn’t end up ever needing the microwave, but the refrigerator definitely got put to use.
I loved that there was a large desk, as well. I was able to set up my computer there and it was not in the way of everything else for our whole stay.
All of the rooms faced out to the courtyard from the hallway.
A full hot breakfast is included in your stay. They have pancakes, made to order omelets, bagels, muffins, bacon, etc. It was definitely a step up from your typical hotel continental breakfast, but it did get busy and lines were long. One morning, we stood in line for nearly 30 minutes. And another morning, there was nowhere to sit after getting our food so we ended up taking it up to our room and letting the kids have a picnic on the floor. The food was fine – nothing to write home about – so I preferred to grab fruit and yogurt and save my calories for donuts or cookies during the day. But the kids and my husband were happy enough with it.
The kids loved being able to watch the elevators go up and down!
We decided to upgrade and pay a little bit more for a room on the bay side. I would definitely recommend this. Not only do you get a view of the water, but there was always a steady stream of airplanes coming in that you could watch land. The kids were highly entertained by this. I was afraid the planes were going to be loud, but when you had the door closed, we didn’t hear them at all.
Plane coming in for a landing! You could also see planes taking off from the airport, but the viewpoint was not nearly as good as the planes coming in for landing.
You could even see the skyline of the city in the distance!
One of the biggest advantages to the location of this hotel was it’s proximity to the Bay Trail. Located right outside of the hotel, the Bay Trail follows the shoreline. From what I understand, the trail will eventually be 500 miles long – encircling the entire bay! We loved going out and walking up and down the trail. My kids don’t sit quietly in a hotel room very well, so it was nice to have this trail right outside the door for when we needed to burn some energy.
So let’s talk some more pros and cons:
While it would have been nice to be in the city where we could just walk to do what we wanted to do, or have a close place to stop for some downtime, the location of the Embassy Suites was actually not bad at all. Traffic getting into and out of the city was not nearly as bad as I was anticipating, and even when we were in rush hour traffic, it wasn’t unbearable. It would typically take 20-30 minutes to drive into the city. We did have a car, which made it easy. But it would even be do-able without a car. The hotel has a free shuttle that will take you to either the BART stop or to the Caltrain station – both will get you into the city. We took the Caltrain into the city to a baseball game on our last night in San Francisco. I really wish we would have taken advantage of the train over driving so we wouldn’t have had to deal with parking in San Francisco. (Which is my biggest complaint about San Francisco – there is no where to park, or it’s expensive to park.)
The only time we ate at the hotel (besides breakfast) was to get dessert in the restaurant one night. 2 desserts and 3 scoops of ice cream cost us more than almost any other meal on our trip. So yeah, the restaurant is not cheap. And honestly, it wasn’t worth what we paid. So I would skip eating at the hotel altogether (unless you are having the breakfast).
There is an indoor swimming pool, which was #1 on my kids’ list. We swam almost every night. The pool wasn’t huge, but it was clean and it was nice. But it was c-o-l-d. I would be shivering after 30 minutes in the water. I don’t think we stayed for more than 45 minutes because I just couldn’t handle how cold it was.
Parking is expensive at $22 a night, but in my experience, you always pay for parking in big cities. So it was a cost that I was expecting.
Overall, we had a very good experience at this hotel, and would definitely use it again. It would be nice to stay in the city, but since options are so few with a family of 5, this ended up being a great compromise. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but it was great for our family!
Embassy Suites San Francisco Airport Waterfront
150 Anza Boulevard
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