Priceline Hotel: Need 4* Downtown SF Hotel 9/20-9/23

By sirbeamer,

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Hello there:

My wife's parents are coming in town checking in 9/20 and checking out 9/23. I usually take care of Priceline bidding but she has been doing it thus far on this one. She has NOT been using the betterbidding link, but I filled her in on that today and we will use it going forward.

She is looking for a hotel for them that is 4* in any of the following areas:


East Union Square

West Union Square


Using the typical rebidding strategies that I explained to her, she began her bids at about $75 a night and has now reached $155. (In the past, we have had very good luck and have been able to get 4* in these areas for between $80-$100.) Obvious fluctuations are common, but this is far higher than we are used to. Apparently there are some conventions in town, although there are constantly conventions in town so I'm not quite sure what the deal is.

We are open to the possibility of going for a 3 or 3 1/2 star, but as locals of SF, we have noticed that there is a great deal of fluctuation in quality from one to another once you drop out of the 4* hotels. We are very concerned about rolling the dice with Priceline and ending up having to put her parents in a noisy or somewhat sketchy hotel.

In summary, we cannot split the trip because her parents are old and we know they won't want to move hotels. They do not want to spend much more than we have already bid, so we can maybe got up to $165-$170, and then we will have no choice but to give up on the 4* hotels.

I apologize if this comes off as a bit rambling but it is late and I am stressed out. Any help is greatly appreciated. :)

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While conventions occur throughout the entire year, for some reason Fall always seems to be the heaviest. From years past on these boards, I recall Sept & Oct as being the most difficult months with regard to PRICELINE and HOTWIRE.

Looking at HOTWIRE for Sept 20-23 reveals why you're having such a hard time with Priceline. Hotwire has nothing at the 4 star level in the Embarcadero and USW zones. All they have is a hotel in USE for $286 per night. So that helps to explain why your Priceline bids up to $155 are going nowhere. Hotwire does, however, have a 3.5* Boutique hotel in USE for $149 per night. When looking at the Hotwire vacation packages, this 3.5 in USE is a match for the Galleria Park Hotel. This hotel has a 4 star Tripadvisor rating. I would suggest reading the Tripadvisor reviews of the Galleria Park and see if that will be acceptable to your in-laws.

I also looked at PRICELINE vacations (air + hotel). The only zone with 4* star hotels at 'normal' Priceline rates are all the airport-area hotels. I'm not sure if that's acceptable, but that's where the bargains are.

While I know switching hotels isn't an option, if it's any help, I was able to determine from HOTWIRE that Sunday (9/20) is the cheapest night out of the three (several 4 stars in various downtown zones in the low $100s). The "bad" nights are Monday & Tuesday.

If you were buying today, your only real bargain options are the 3.5 in USE on HOTWIRE, or the 4 stars in the airport zone on PRICELINE. How late can you hold out?

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Thank you so much for your help! I have now bid all the way up to $195 (pre-tax) using Embarc, FiDi, Union Square E/W. It looks like we're screwed in that regard. I am going to check out the Galleria Park Hotel, if that is still available at that price it could be a good option.

We are also now looking into the 3.5 stars at Fisherman's Wharf as they are mostly 4 star brands. Switching hotels or doing the Airport hotels are only available as absolute last straw scenarios. We really need to keep things simple and easy for the in-laws.

Again, I really appreciate your response and if you have any more advice based on this I am all ears!


Edit: I just checked on Galleria Park Hotel through Hotwire and it is gone...

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Yes, of course.

Update: I booked a cancelable reservation at the Larkspur Hotel (www.larkspurhotels.com) for about $625 with tax. This is intended to serve as an insurance policy so I can continue looking up to the last minute.

In the course of booking this hotel, I called and visited a number of hotels in the area. I found that there is a major medical convention in town that seems to be causing capacity issues. A number of hotels were completely booked for 9/21-9/23. (I am looking for (9/20-9/23).

In your experience, when hotels are "fully booked," do they still end up posting some cheap last minute rooms to PRICELINE? I know that a lot of people cancel reservations at the last minute.

Again, thanks for your continuing help.

Best wishes!

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You've done the right thing IMO. Yes, we've seen hotels give Priceline access to inventory at the last minute if/when cancellations come through. Often times people aren't willing to wait that long, however you've got nothing to lose since you have a cancellable reservation booked w/Larkspur.

To monitor inventory, do a Priceline vacation package (air + hotel) search for your travel dates. Enter any origin city with SFO as your destination. Enter using just one person traveleing. At the moment, the only 4 star hotel in downtown SFO displaying in the vacation package is the Hilton in USW. However you will notice how inflated the rate is for the Hilton when you compare it to 4 star hotels at the airport. The Hilton in USW is nearly 3 times what the Airport Hyatt is going for. So that gives you an indication of the lack of availability of 4 star inventory downtown vs the airport, and how inflated the single 4 star downtown hotel is charging. If you look at the packages every few days, it's possible as the date gets closer you will see other 4 star downtown start to appear, and possibly at lower rates. No guarantee, it's just a good tool to get a feel for what's going on at the moment with regard to inventory.

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Thank you so much for your fantastic advice. I consider myself much more experienced with PRICELINE than most but I am absolutely amazed to learn more tips and tricks all the time.

It is always very encouraging to me that there are people like yourself spending time helping people out without expecting anything in return. I will certainly pay it forward!


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In addition to BEAV's good advice I'll throw out another option for your consideration.

Expedia has the Grosvenor Suites at $159 for your dates, or $544.38 with taxes.

The Grosvenor rooms are apartment-like suites with a furnished kitchen and continental breakfast is included. The $159 rate is for a "Junior executive suite". The smaller "Studio Suites" are sold out for your dates.

Note this is a PREPAID rate, so it's not a good choice if you just want a cancellable backup while you keep bidding on PRICELINE.

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HOTWIRE is displaying a 3* in the Japantown/Civic Center North zone for $92 for Sept 20-23. This appears to be a match for the Opal Hotel, which has a 3.5 Tripadvisor score. As info, this hotel is located on Van Ness Ave. I'm not sure if it was displaying in the past, but noticed it today and thought I would mention it.

Also, I did another PRICELINE vacation package search for 9/20-9/23 and the 4* Hilton in USW is no longer displaying. There are some 3 and 3.5 star hotels downtown displaying, however at exhorbitant rates when compared to 4 star hotels out at the airport.

It's my understanding hotel revenue managers perform weekly occupancy assessments on Mondays and or Tuesdays. So it's possible something may turn up (for the better) by tomorrow or Wednesday.

Colfax, thanks for the tip about the Grosvenor Suites. At first I was thinking this was the BW Grosvener out near the airport, but went to Expedia and see this is downtown. Good catch.

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LastMinuteTravel.com today is selling a 4.5* on their site for $166 per night for 9/20-9/23. The hotel discription is pretty vague, however it mentioned this property is within walking distance to the Metreon and also has 63 "event facilities". So I googled San Francisco hotels with 63 event facilities and this matches the Marriott at 4th & Market (and right across the street from the Metreon).

I don't think you'll get much better than this for a 4 star hotel during this period of heavy occupancy.

Note to thereuare: The link to LastMinuteTravel on the support page appears to be down.

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