The hunt for a hotel at a reasonable rate during the Comic-Con is like looking for a hot and rare graphic novel during the show. Hard to find and most certainly not discounted. That’s why a room at the Marriott cost over $1,500 per night and a room at the Hampton Inn was over $800. OK, not really, but they might as well have been. And, getting a room after finally snatching badges during the last offering in May was nigh on to impossible. We could have stayed way out in El Cajon but it would have meant a commute to an SDMTS train station and probably more than an hour and a half each way. And we still would have paid about $150-$200/night.
We’ve looked before at places south of San Diego in National City but even they were spotty this go-around. So, we kept heading southward and found that the only hotels that had rooms available were in San Ysidro — a Travelodge and a Rodeway Inn. They were around $100/night. San Ysidro seemed pretty far away, but there is a train that runs to a station within about a 10 minute walk to the Convention Center. The Rodeway Inn was closest to a station (the last one on the Blue Line), so we booked a stay there.
Remember how we talked about our disappointing stay at the Hotel Carlton in Miami Beach? Yeah, our expectations were low for the Rodeway. It’s a 2-star hotel with average ratings. But, hey, whatever. We were going to spend most of our time at the convention and just needed to be in a safe and clean location. With expectations so low, we actually were pleasantly surprised by both the hotel and San Ysidro as a whole. The Rodeway was austere and small, but it was clean and quiet. Like most basic hotels, it had some simple amenities that made the stay a bit more workable … free wireless (which gave us a decent connection — enough to watch a couple of episodes of The Chappelle Show and Archer at night), “continental” breakfast (muffins, coffee, and orange juice — eh, it was a quick grab on the way out at least), an in-room microwave (for leftover pizza the last morning), and HBO (although the TV didn’t go on once during the stay).
Given its proximity to Tijuana (we could see it on our walk to the train), we supposed San Ysidro might be congested, dirty, and maybe unsafe. Hey, don’t give us any crap about that. Blame the sensationalism of TV. From what we’ve learned about Tijuana, Satan and his minions (including a completely corrupt police force) run roughshod over the terrified people of a highly congested, polluted city. Maybe. But not in San Ysidro. From what we saw, it’s a small town full of a working class population of mostly Hispanic origin. The place was tidy and actually pretty small. We didn’t see any reason to feel unsafe. It probably didn’t hurt that there is a large contingency of law enforcement officials all around given it is the portal to the largest border crossing in the world. The lines of cars heading into the U.S. in the morning and back to Mexico at night was incredible. And the people that hoofed it from the SDMTS station over the bridge were primarily day workers and several Mexican Comic-Con attendees to boot. It was interesting to see a change in the language and culture as we progressed down each station on the line. By the time we arrived in San Ysidro, all we heard around us was Spanish. One of us speaks passable enough Spanish to have enjoyed a few conversations with commuters.
The commute from the San Ysidro station to the 12th and Imperial Transit Center took only about 40 minutes, so we walked out of the hotel and got into the convention center in less than an hour. The fact that we didn’t have to transfer lines or walk a significant distance was a big plus.
Anyway, unless we can get into a hotel really close to the Convention Center next year (assuming we get badges), we’ll probably save our money and stay at the Rodeway again. One note, it’s in a sleepy enough town that you’re not going to find anything to eat after 10pm and from our experience there is no vibrant late night partying going on. Hard working people are boring. Odin bless them.
Oh, and we’re going to book early enough that you won’t be able to get rooms before us, so good luck finding something in Tijuana. Watch out for heads in bags.