Checking In

People rarely think about the hotels in their local community until they have visitors who need to stay in one. Then, most hit up something like Expedia or Yelp (or Airbnb, I suppose) to find something that meets the immediate need, without really thinking about the local hotels as a whole. I’m not like most other people, though—I actually do think about things like this (for fun!). In my walks around the city I’ve noticed individual hotels, but not until construction on our new hotel east of 101 began did I really start to wonder about what choices people coming to Redwood City have, and how the addition of this new hotel might affect our lodging scene.

Our new hotel will be located on Bair Island Road, easily accessible from Highway 101 from the Whipple Avenue exit. It has been under construction for some time now, and recently the building’s outer structure appears to have been completed, giving us a good idea of how the building will look in its final form. In case you were wondering what the final exterior finishes should look like—the bright yellow you see today is from the soon-to-be-covered insulating panels the builder is using—here is the rendering from the city’s website:

Ours will be a five-story, 177-room Courtyard by Marriott. What may not be apparent from the above picture is that it has a two-level garage buried within: the 88,000 square-foot garage sits entirely above ground, inside the first and second floors of the building. Surrounding the garage on those first two floors you’ll find the hotel lobby, restaurant, bar, lounge and support operations. All of the guest rooms are on the third through fifth floors, arranged so that they overlook the hotel’s central, open-air courtyard, pool, spa and sunning area. The contractor expects the hotel to be open this June, and although that may be a bit optimistic, certainly I would expect it to be open sometime this summer.

We aren’t the only local community getting a new hotel. San Carlos, whose development portfolio has blossomed lately, recently broke ground on a new hotel project of their own. Theirs will be located on Industrial Road, just about a block south of Holly Street. It will be a four-story extended-stay hotel, with 204 guest rooms surrounded by surface parking. On-site hotel amenities will include a lobby, outdoor patio areas with a pool and sport court, a fitness center, laundry facilities, and a meeting room. Because this is an extended-stay hotel, all guest rooms will include individual kitchens; there will be limited food service. Expect to see it open in about a year—sometime in the summer of 2017.

Here is a rendering of the Landmark Hotel:

As you can see, the hotel is T-shaped, with the top of the T angled to fit up against the Holly Street on-ramp to southbound Highway 101. The street in the lower-left foreground is Industrial Road, and the car in the lower-right corner of the photo is just turning onto E. San Carlos Avenue (which dead-ends at Highway 101).

While on the subject of new hotels in the area, I should note that Menlo Park is also getting one. Like both ours and San Carlos’s, their 11-story hotel, which will be part of an office-and-hotel complex, will be visible from Highway 101, on the east side of the freeway just south of Marsh Road. Bohannon Development Co. broke ground for this 250-room hotel in March and expects it to be completed by late 2017.

Getting back to Redwood City, our Courtyard hotel is the first that the city has approved in more than 10 years. After surveying the competition, I believe that we really need it. For one it adds to the number of quality places where a Redwood City visitor can stay. Plus, since travelers renting rooms pay a transient occupancy tax, it will add much-needed revenues each year to our General Fund. For reference, in Redwood City’s budget for the last fiscal year transient occupancy taxes accounted for some 12.6% of General Fund revenues—$5.7 million worth. So the city benefits financially while our options for overnight accommodations are significantly improved: a real win-win, in my book.

Just how much impact will this Courtyard hotel have on our hotel scene? All told, Redwood City currently has 20 hotels and motels within its city limits, for a total of 1,314 rooms. While the quality of those rooms vary widely (some get great reviews, while others sound downright scary), there appears to be something for everyone.

As you might expect, the largest grouping of our hotels and motels—half of them, in fact—are located on El Camino Real. Starting from the northern end, near the San Carlos border, and proceeding south, they are:

  • Best Western Inn, 316 El Camino Real
  • Sequoia Inn, 526 El Camino Real
  • Redwood Creek Inn, 1090 El Camino Real
  • Comfort Inn, 1818 El Camino Real
  • Holiday Inn Express, 1836 El Camino Real
  • Capri Motel, 2380 El Camino Real
  • Budget Inn, 2526 El Camino Real
  • Pacific Inn, 2610 El Camino Real
  • Days Inn, 2650 El Camino Real
  • Atherton Park Inn & Suites, 2834 El Camino Real

While I assumed that the lion’s share of our lodging would be located on El Camino, I thought we’d have at least a couple along Woodside Road. Interestingly, though, we don’t. Of the remaining ten hotels and motels within Redwood City, three are located downtown:

  • Pacific Euro Hotel, 868 Main Street
  • Sequoia Hotel, 800 Main Street
  • Garden Motel, 1690 Broadway

Of these three I’d only consider staying in the Pacific Euro Hotel, a 53-room European-style hotel located on Main. To keep costs down, many of the Pacific Euro’s rooms rely on shared bathroom facilities, much as you’d find in a hostel. But this hotel seems to get fairly good reviews for its small rooms. Which can’t be said for the other two, I’m afraid. Based upon the few online reviews I could find, the Sequoia Hotel seems to have a reputation for being the home to transients and drug addicts. Which is unfortunate, given its rich history (the Sequoia Hotel was built in 1916 and at the time was the finest hotel in Redwood City; President-elect Herbert Hoover apparently used it as his temporary headquarters when he came for our 4th of July parade). Hopefully those reviews are out-of-date. I’m still hoping that it’ll be restored to a semblance of its former glory.

As for the Garden Motel, well, let’s just say that the reviews for this tired old hotel—it was built in 1939—aren’t stellar. But it has a pretty good location, being on Broadway just across Beech Street from the 7-11, and someone has apparently noticed, since this site is on the list for redevelopment. An application has been submitted to the city to replace the Garden Motel with a 92-room, five-story Hampton Inn & Suites. Here is the rendering of the proposed hotel:

This project is only in the application stage, and the city has not yet deemed the application to be complete. So it will be a while—if ever—before this project breaks ground. But it would be the only hotel in that part of town, and its proximity to downtown and its well-known name would, I suspect, make it a popular destination.

Two of Redwood City’s hotels are located in Redwood Shores. One, the Sofitel San Francisco Bay, is our largest (421 rooms) and perhaps nicest hotel. Not far away is the lesser-known Towneplace Suites by Marriott. This is an extended-stay hotel; every one of the hotel’s 95 rooms has a kitchen. Its location and design make it ideal for business travelers who will be in town for a while. You’ll find both of our Redwood Shores hotels on Twin Dolphin Drive, just east of Highway 101.

The four remaining hotels are scattered about the city:

  • Good Nite Inn, 485 Veterans Blvd
  • Deluxe Inn, 1402 Stafford St.
  • Best Western Plus Executive Suites, 25 Fifth Ave.
  • Redwood Court Motel, 3706 Rolison Rd.

The Good Nite Inn, shown above, is north of Whipple (just beyond the IHOP), and sits alongside the Highway 101 off-ramp. Not too long ago it was a Howard Johnson’s; the current owners seem to have simply painted over that chain’s famous orange roof. As for the Deluxe Inn (which, according to some of the reviews I saw is anything but deluxe), it is adjacent to the Any Mountain sporting goods store at Whipple Avenue and the Caltrain tracks.

The final two hotels on the above list are in the southern end of town. You’ll find the Best Western on Fifth Avenue, next to the Jack in the Box restaurant that sits on the corner of Fifth and El Camino Real. And the Redwood Court Motel, a tiny 14-room establishment, can be found on Rolison Road near the Marsh Road and Highway 101 interchange.

Before I close out this discussion, I should mention one additional, rather unique offering that, although sporting a Redwood City address, sits just outside the city limits. The Atherton Inn B&B has five rooms within an upscale house on West Selby Lane. Being a bed-and-breakfast it is not quite the same as the others I’ve listed above, but given its proximity to Redwood City and its rather attractive rooms, I thought I should mention it. From the website, and from the glimpse I got from the street (I stumbled across it while on a walk to Selby Lane Elementary School), it seems like the kind of place I might take my wife to on a “getaway weekend.”

After putting my list together, I was pleasantly surprised to realize how much Redwood City offers when it comes to lodging. However, the quality of some of them appears to be such that I, personally, would only recommend a handful to a friend or family member coming for a visit. The new Courtyard by Marriott looks to be one that I would definitely recommend, as is the Hampton Inn & Suites if it indeed gets built. Together these two projects would add 269 high-quality rooms to our hotel stock, bringing our total to 1,565 (after accounting for the loss of the 18-room Garden Motel)—significantly adding to the choices that travelers will have. When you also take into account the transient occupancy taxes these rooms would bring in, I think it is safe to say that these new hotels will have a real impact on Redwood City’s lodging scene. A positive impact. Which, in light of the recent community discussions around development, is nice to say.

8 thoughts on “Checking In

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    • I mentioned that one in the article. Was there something that you wanted to say about it? I’ve never stayed there but have been to the restaurant/lounge/lobby area on more than one occasion for a group function. It seems very nice–as I said, possibly the nicest hotel within our city limits.

  3. What about the Red Cottage Inn in Atherton, I think, on El Camino? We stayed there about 8 years ago when we were getting our floors done. It was rather nice and affordable then, but I haven’t had any experience with it since then.

    • I was focused on hotels/motels within the Redwood City city limits, but thanks for the suggestion. I don’t know anything about that one. I’ll have to look into it.

  4. When my parents visit from NH they always stay at the Atherton b&b. Not only is it significantly cheaper than a lot of the surrounding hotels, it’s quite a bit nicer. We live a stones throw away on the Redwood City side of Stockbridge Avenue so it’s extremely convenient. It can often be hundreds less than staying in adjacent Menlo Park. I can’t recommend it enough. Redwood city needs more quality (& not exorbitantly expensive) hotels…isn’t the city trying to attract a new one downtown? It’d be great if someone would spruce up the Sequioa, it’s a nice building in a great location. Any idea if there’s some weird zoning, ownership, etc that’s preventing this?

    • Atherton B&B sounds great – thanks for the recommendation! As for the Sequoia, no, I don’t think there is any weird zoning or anything that is affecting it. I do plan to dig into it a bit and will report anything I find. FWIW Diane Howard (on our City Council) is, I believe, one of the owners.

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