As much fun as it is to go to the Anime Expo®, you still need a place at the end of the day to store your swag and get a hot shower and maybe even cop some Zs. I mean, you can’t live on Starbucks and Red Bull for four plus days (well, you can try, but you could die). So, you have to think about accommodations.
One the plus side, the convention is of such a size and import that they can negotiate room deals with a variety of hotels in the area. On the down side, it may still be a bit costly to go.
As of the present date, there are seventeen hotels tethered into this Good Neighbor Program. The two closest ones to the Convention Center, the Ritz-Carlton and the J W Marriot (a mere 1/10 mile away) START at $224 a night. Yes, I know, if you get a bunch of pals to come together and are willing to bunk up, you can drive your personal cost down, but that means having to sleep with people who have differing diurnal/nocturnal schedules and what if you get a person who takes two hour showers and gobbles up all the hot water and clean towels? That’s the kind of guy you smother in their sleep and drop down the elevator shaft.
Three of the offerings are places that I have been to before: the Millennium Biltmore, the Omni Los Angeles and the Sheraton Los Angeles. Although they are ‘less’ expensive ($155, $190 and $185 to start, respectively), they are a greater distance from the Center (forget it, dude; I ain’t getting caught up in that further/farther nonsense. OK, for the record, farther relates to actual distances, whereas further relates to figurative distances), upwards of 1½ miles away. All are (or were) actual shuttle stops, but the Biltmore is across the street, where the Omni and Sheraton are right in front. I want to tell you that at the end of a long and exhilarating day, the small kindness of getting dropped off at the front door of your hotel at 2 am is a nice treat.
But what do you want from your hotel? Some of the places (like the Figueroa, the Kadawa and the O Hotel) are geared more for those Rock and Roll All Night types. Some of the others, like the Westin Bonaventure, the Mayfair and the Courtyard are a bit more staid. The other issue is car costs. When I first encountered this, I was shocked, but it is something you have to blend into your budget: these places charge for parking, upwards of $30 a day. Some have parking on premises; others are a block or two away and it all takes time to spring the car, which makes Get-Away Day an even bigger nightmare.
Now, between the three, I give the slight edge to the Biltmore, owing to the wonderful pool and better exercise room. It overlooks Pershing Square, so you can watch all the drug deals going down, but the rooms are huge, like 20 feet by 20 feet by 12 feet tall. The drawback is the tiny bathroom that may not have been changed since Walt Disney won his Academy Award for “Snow White”. (The Academy Awards were held at the Biltmore in the early days). Yes, they are a major stiff on free Wi-Fi, but that could have changed since my last visit.
The Omni has smaller rooms, but a generous bathroom and a phone by the toilet (I had to call my room when I forgot something and scared the pants off the wife, who was in the bathroom), although it felt like the walls were a bit thin. I could hear my neighbors. Nothing specific, but you were aware of the sound emanating from there.
The Sheraton was the bête noire for me. I am hoping things have changed, but I was disappointed with them, as it almost appeared they didn’t have a handle on it. This story relates to the first thing about any hotel: stay with your luggage trolley. When we pulled up, everything was unloaded onto the trolley and we went in to register, with the promise that it would follow ‘shortly’. The trolley went up another elevator and took forever to get to our room. It was there we made a terrible discovery: we had lost one bag and gained another. The item lost was my daughter’s iPod speaker set. You know those things: you plug in your iPod and you get wonderful music. We gained someone’s knapsack, but, being nice, decided not to rifle through it to get a name
We took the bag down (so that poor schmuck could get their stuff) and asked about ours. It took the Bell Captain twenty minutes to get back to us and then, they couldn’t find a thing. “Are you sure you brought it?” (That damn near broke my daughter’s heart). It was an aggravating two days before the item was ‘found’. We never got an explanation as to where it was or how it was ‘found’, but we later discovered that there were a large number of misdirected items. Yes, handling the influx of a ton of people is hard, but I am sure that conventions have been held here previously and it shouldn’t be all that bad to keep track of it all.
This is a shame, as the overall accommodations were good. This was before I had a laptop, so I was able to use the free PCs to file my reports and they had decent on-food offerings if you didn’t feel like venturing out for meals (more on that later).
So, this is the hard part. Are more expensive hotels better? Does a cheap hotel mean cheap all the way around? Do you want to sleep in your car? For me, I only need four things from a hotel:
- A door that locks
- A bed that’s soft
- A bathroom that works
- Courteous neighbors.
Yeah, that last one is out of my control, but I can hope. The wife, SHE wants the four-star accommodation and the 12 billion count Egyptian cotton sheets and the plush, plush carpeting and curtains that blot out all light. Oh, yeah, a fridge. I have medications that need to be chilled. And beer. Who wants to drink a warm beer? And FORGET the snack bar. $8 for a bottle of water?
Now comes actually wrestling with it all. More to follow.