If you’ve ever stayed at an airport hotel that consistently delivered a positive experience each and every stay, you’ll understand my need to return to the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront hotel.
Of course, several positive previous experiences didn’t guarantee it would happen again, especially comparing pre-COVID times with today. However, I was eager to return to this familiar property in March 2022 and relay my new experience.
Would the property live up to my expectations and previous stays? After all, what can be so special about an airport hotel?
Read on for all you need to know about the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront hotel, including how to get there, what makes it better than a normal airport hotel, and what you can expect when you visit.
The San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront is located just 1 mile and an easy (complimentary) shuttle ride from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The hotel can also be accessed from downtown San Francisco via the BART transit system, which takes about 30 minutes.
Additionally, if you were to take Caltrain to Millbrae Station, the hotel is approximately a 3-minute taxi ride or 25-minute walk.
To reach the hotel after arrival at SFO, follow the signs to baggage claim, then for the hotel shuttles. Once you exit, cross the walkway and locate the stop that is found 1 level up from baggage claim.
You’ll never have to wait long for an airport shuttle from either the airport or the hotel. The service runs 24/7 every 15 minutes throughout the day and every 30 minutes from 12:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m.
Like many SFO airport hotels, this Marriott is not inexpensive. However, I was able to secure a discounted rate and booked 2 nights at $169 plus tax per night ($384.06 total, including taxes and fees). I then used an Amex Offer found on my Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card that gave me $50 off a $250 Marriott purchase. Additionally, I used a $100 Marriott gift certificate purchased previously for $75 via another Amex Offer, resulting in a net $309 out-of-pocket cost for 2 nights, including taxes and fees.
The San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront requires between 40,000 to 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night, depending on the date. For the period I was staying, rooms were going for 50,000 points per night.
Hot Tip: Remember: Marriott Bonvoy switched to dynamic pricing and eliminated its award charts in March 2022. Make sure to lock in any stays you have in mind before the chain makes the switch!
We value Marriott Bonvoy points at approximately 0.7 cents each, making the cash rate ($169) a much better value than using points (50,000 x 0.7 cents each = $350 worth of points), especially using the Amex Offer and gift certificate.
The approach to the hotel is nothing exciting, but as you get closer and notice the beautiful bay and airport runways in the distance, you realize the property might have more to offer than what you may assume from just looking at it.
As you enter the hotel, you’ll find that the property has been updated with a clean modern theme.
During check-in, my Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status was recognized and I was upgraded to a waterfront room. I was given 1,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points and the option to select either a further 750 Marriott Bonvoy points, a $10 food and beverage voucher, or a free breakfast. I selected the breakfast and since my flight would be leaving early on my second day, I asked for a $10 voucher instead of breakfast for that day, which I received.
The $10 voucher could be used at any time during my stay for any food or beverages. I was also provided with 2 complimentary bottles of water.
I did not receive a welcome letter nor a list of benefits in writing, but the options given by the staff were clearly stated. I was also informed that there would be no daily housekeeping service but to ask for anything I needed and I would be accommodated.
The stated check-in time at the hotel is 4 p.m. to midnight.
While checking in, you’ll notice how the hotel opens up to a grand area with a view of the water and SFO’s runways in the background. The area serves as the core service area where you’ll order and eat your meals or enjoy an evening cocktail.
If you arrive by private vehicle and need to park, you’ll have to pay for the privilege. Parking fees are $30 per night for self-parking and $40 per night if you use valet — Marriott Bonvoy elites do not get free parking. Parking for less than 24 hours does not offer in-and-out privileges for either option.
There is an electric charging station available for electric vehicles.
Although I did have trouble connecting to the hotel Wi-Fi, the trouble turned out to be my laptop, not the hotel’s server. The hotel provided tech assistance — which was helpful — but in the end, I resorted to tethering my laptop to my phone.
The Wi-Fi service charge is $14.95 per day if you’re not a Marriott Bonvoy member.
The fitness center was light and airy and offered dozens of workout machines and free weights.
There were also 2 Peloton bikes for use.
The business center was small but functional. There were 2 desktop computers for online access, plus a monitor for viewing upcoming flights. There was also a printer available.
This is a feature we should see at all hotels. A water station with free cold, filtered water for filling a reusable container is a nice touch.
Pool and Spa
Unfortunately, all spa services were currently suspended and the pool area was closed until further notice due to COVID-19 restrictions. The staff was unaware of when the services would return.
When it comes to hosting meetings, this Marriott checks all the boxes. With over 27,000 square feet of meeting space and 26 event spaces, the hotel can accommodate a large convention or other special events. The grand ballroom alone can hold up to 1,100 people.
Meeting spaces have been altered to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. There were several small meetings taking place when I was there, but no large gatherings.
Event and Wedding Planning
If you’re planning a wedding, you’ll find the hotel an excellent waterfront venue with on-site expert certified wedding planners. The hotel also specializes in personalized events such as reunions, birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestone celebrations.
The concierge was very helpful and answered a lot of my questions. You’ll find assistance regarding things to do in the area, transportation options, and help finding a nearby dining venue.
For just $5 you can rent a bike for the entire day. If you’re a Marriott Bonvoy elite member, it’s free. The concierge can arrange your rental — you’ll just need to sign a waiver and you’ll be on your way.
You might say that I saved the best until last. On the backside of the hotel is a beautiful walking trail that follows the water’s edge for miles. The evening I arrived was lovely and I was able to enjoy a nice walk along the water.
This is truly the gem of this whole property. To be able to enjoy the outdoors at an airport hotel is a real plus.
The paved walkway leads to several parks and a bird sanctuary (about a 15-minute walk). You’ll see hundreds of shorebirds during your walk, in addition to viewing the planes taking off and landing at SFO.
During my March 2022 stay, masks were required within the hotel and on the hotel shuttle. Plexiglas barriers were in use at reception and hand-sanitizing stations were located throughout the property. The hotel also was using electrostatic disinfectant sprayers in the rooms and common areas.
If you should need, or want, a COVID-19 test while at the hotel, free rapid antigen COVID-19 testing was available next door, less than a block away, at the end of the hotel parking lot. Results were available in 30 minutes.
PCR tests were available by appointment and could be administered at the hotel or nearby testing facility. Results could be obtained in as few as 1 to 2 hours. Costs ranged from $195 for overnight results to $299 for 1 to 2 hours.
The concierge can assist you in arranging a test that meets your needs.
You can feel comfortable visiting this hotel as safety measures are in place and widely adhered to.
I was pleasantly surprised with the upgraded room as I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary.
The hotel is expansive and with 688 rooms, you may have to walk a bit to get to your room. My room was located at the end of 3 long hallways from the elevator — but the location was very quiet.
With an open floor plan and adjacent sitting area, my room was a step above a standard hotel room. It was modern, clean, spacious, and functional.
The bed was super comfortable. The attached bedside shelves had simple lighting controls and outlets for charging electronics.
I liked the layout of the room with the separate sitting area. It felt like having a small living room with a view. It was also nice for morning coffee and at break time to have a space to relax other than the bed.
The desk area offered a comfortable chair and adequate lighting. The safe was also located in the work area. The flat-screen smart TV allowed access to Netflix, YouTube, and other subscription service options.
The coffee maker was basic with 2 packs each of decaf, regular coffee, and tea, plus condiments. There was no minibar, but there was a small refrigerator located beneath the coffee maker.
While difficult to capture, the view of both the water and the runways at SFO added to the ambiance of the room.
The bathroom appeared newly remodeled with a nicely tiled shower and granite-topped vanity. The water pressure was impressive for a rain shower.
Except for the bar of soap, there were no separate bathroom amenities other than the full-size itworks! brand dispensers in the shower.
The room did not have a closet but rather a small area to hang clothing and hold the iron, ironing board, and luggage stand. It was more than sufficient for this 2-night stay, however.
Food and Beverage
Dining options were currently limited at the hotel. Most options for meals were carryout except for dinner which you could order from the bar and eat there or at one of the nearby tables. There was also an á la carte breakfast option on weekends.
Let’s take a look at what dining options were available (or not available) at the hotel.
While the hotel does have an executive lounge, it was closed and the staff said the reopening date has not been established.
Main Dining Room
Although there were no sit-down restaurant options during the week, on weekends you could order an á la carte plated breakfast from the hotel dining menu. Breakfast was the only meal served in the dining area and Monday through Friday there was only carryout service.
During the week, a full carry-0ut breakfast will cost about $30 if you include coffee and juice. Here’s a look at the options for Monday through Friday:
Breakfast is ordered from the station located in the middle of the dining room. I found the staff to be friendly, and my food was delivered quickly.
As a Titanium Elite member, I was able to select 1 main dish item plus juice and coffee from the menu. If you do not have at least Platinum Elite status, this breakfast would cost $25.
If you chose a $10 food and beverage voucher as an elite member, it wouldn’t go far very far if your goal was to receive a “free” full breakfast from the hotel’s menu.
The hotel’s onsite Starbucks was open 4:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., making it an additional option for breakfast and also for lunch.
If you chose the $10 food and beverage voucher, you could order a small breakfast sandwich and a coffee for that amount. Otherwise, normal Starbucks prices apply — around $6 for a small breakfast sandwich plus the cost of your drink.
The hotel’s Marketplace was open 24 hours, making it easy to grab something anytime you were hungry or thirsty. You could use your food and beverage voucher to secure a breakfast sandwich and drink or grab a salad at lunch. There were several instant noodle meals and frozen dishes available and a microwave was provided for heating up your food selection. Once you’ve selected the items you want to purchase, you simply pay at the front desk.
I selected a $12 salad of kale, feta, farro, and tomatoes from the Marketplace for a late lunch — I’m pleased to report that it was delicious. You could also grab a beverage and snack from the Marketplace and take it to your room, or enjoy it at one of the dining tables.
For dinner, the Marketplace offered a selection of sandwiches, salads, noodle dishes, and frozen meals that could be heated in the microwave. The Marketplace also sold beer and wine.
Once you have your food, gathered from any source, you can relax and dine at any of the tables in the main area and enjoy the view.
Flights View Lounge
The distinct choice for a cocktail, snack, or meal is to visit the Flights View Lounge, open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The lounge serves a variety of cocktails, beer, and wine and you could order off the bar menu (until 9:30 p.m.). Once you’ve ordered your selection, you can eat or drink at the bar or sit down at one of the dining tables and enjoy the view.
The Flights View Lounge menu offers several tasty options. You can order from the menu until 9:30 p.m.
Hanger Steak Restaurant
The SFO Airport Marriott has a steakhouse restaurant, however, it was currently closed.
Ordering Meal Delivery
Finally, another option guests have is ordering food delivery. The hotel understands the need to supplement its dining options and has created a special pick-up area near the front desk to accept food deliveries.
If you’ll be staying at the hotel for any length of time, you’d certainly want to take advantage of ordering food from outside of the hotel, mostly for economic reasons but also for variety.
You wouldn’t expect a high level of service at the hotel with many amenities unavailable and limited dining options, but the staff came through with an exceptional level of care. The ladies cleaning rooms in the hallway consistently asked if I needed anything and were quick to wish me a good day.
The front desk staff (Brandon, in particular) spent an inordinate amount of time helping me connect to the hotel Wi-Fi, called hotel tech support, then followed up with phone calls to my room to make sure all was functioning properly.
I left an item in the main dining room and soon got a call to my room asking if I had lost anything.
Everyone in the hotel, from the concierge to the housekeepers made me feel welcome and appreciated.
It’s difficult to judge the value offered by a hotel with many of its services not in operation, but I have found that cleanliness and great service can overcome the lack of most amenities. The San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront did a great job in those 2 areas.
Add in the convenient location, plus access to the outdoors, and the hotel makes a great choice for a layover or short stay.
You will pay a premium to stay at the hotel, but convenience frequently comes at a price.
Also, note that this review is a snapshot in time. As services resume, I’ll have to return to the property and update this review. Hopefully sooner rather than later, I will return, as this property remains one of my favorite airport hotels.