I primarily chose this hotel because it was convenient to a dinner event I had at Morton's Steakhouse - just around the corner. The reviews on here were good overall and - since I typically stay at the big chain hotels (Hyatt, Hilton, Westin, etc.,) - I enjoy staying at the boutique properties when I have the chance.
The entrance / lobby of the hotel with its central courtyard and greenery has a New Orleans feel to it. As I was walking to the front desk I was thinking "It would be great if they had some jazz music playing in the background to enhance that feeling."
Since I had arrived at 11:00 am, too early for check-in, I anticipated that they wouldn't have my room ready. I planned to walk to Horton Plaza and do some shopping. Someone was in the process of checking out at the front desk. The woman behind the desk interrupted her conversation with that person to shout over to me "What's your room number?" When I said I was checking in she looked perturbed and said that she wouldn't have anything ready until one o'clock. I said that was no problem and asked if they would hold my luggage. Another employee (a man) came out from the back to take my luggage. I noticed that neither employee was wearing any kind of uniform or a name badge. It was a little TOO casual in my opinion. Neither one of them projected an ounce of warmth or hospitality towards me. There was never a "Welcome to the Horton! Is this your first time staying with us? How may we help you?"
When I told the lady I was going to Horton Plaza she gave me a 10% discount card for Macy's, which was a nice perk.
After I came back from shopping, I had lunch at the Cheese Shop located next to the hotel's courtyard. Kathy, who works there, was a real gem. She was thrilled to tell me that the Cheese Shop had been voted #1 deli in San Diego in a recent article in USA Today.
I point this out because the excellent customer service I received from Kathy was a stark contrast to the service from the Horton Grand staff. When I came back to the front desk to check in, that same lady glanced up from her phone call (someone on hold) and said "Yes?" "I'm checking in," I said. "What's the last name?" Apparently she didn't even recognize me as the same person she'd met just 2 hours earlier and who had already filled out a check-in card with my name and info. Just how many women with my distinct hair color had checked in to the hotel in those 2 hours that she couldn't be bothered to remember me?
Then, in the middle of this "conversation" she calls the hotel manager (I assumed) over. They proceeded to have a discussion about a large group that was coming to town and looking for a block of guest rooms. The other employee comes from the back of the room and sits down at his computer, ignoring me. I finally ask him if he can finish checking me in since his colleague was too busy. A few minutes later he slides the key card envelope over the counter then joins in the discussion about the large group. There was never a "You'll be in room XXX. The elevators are down the hall and to your left, have a nice stay, please let us know if there's anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable." Just slide the key over to me and get back to something that's clearly more important than a “valued” hotel guest.
My room was as described when I selected it through my travel agent. King size bed, fireplace, a balcony overlooking the central courtyard. What wasn't in the description was that there's no solid divider between my balcony and the balcony of the room next door. The windows of the room next door look right onto my balcony. Also the height of the divider was about 3 feet high. If you want your balcony to be cozy, private – and safe! that's not the case here.
Business travelers be aware that the wall outlet (at least in this room) is not convenient to the desk. It was a bit of stretch to plug in my laptop. Also, you can't charge the wireless fee to your room. It's outsourced and you pay via PayPal. If you have multiple devices (laptop, tablet, e-reader, etc.,) you have to pay a fee for each device instead of getting one roaming access code.
If you like the white noise of a fan, you may be out of luck. The temperature control unit on the wall was apparently just for show; I couldn’t get it to work. I didn’t bother complaining to the front desk since it wasn’t that hot out and the ceiling fan did an adequate job keeping the room comfortable.
The room had antique or faux antique fixtures as I expected. I got a kick out of the old fashioned toilet with the pull chain. Ladies, there’s no counter space to spread out here, but a cute wall unit with a couple shelves and drawers to hold lotions and such. The quaint bathroom décor was diminished by a standard tub with the remnants of what looked to be a soap dispenser still attached to the wall. Not attractive.
The bed was just all right. Not the most comfortable I’ve slept on, but not the worst either. All of the pillows were foam – the rubbery type. I was glad that I’d brought my own feather pillow.
There are no premium channels on the TV, just your basic cable. No in-room movies either, if that’s a necessity for you.
I returned from my Morton’s dinner at 9pm. I felt reasonably safe walking the block from the restaurant to the hotel. I did notice earlier in the day while walking to/from the plaza that there are a lot of homeless people in the area. Parts of the area reminded me of the San Francisco Tenderloin district. The police – on foot and in cars – were present. But keep an eye open and hold tight to your wallets.
At 3:45 AM I was awakened from a sound sleep. I pulled out the ear plugs and waited a few seconds. Then I heard a loud banging sound from down the hallway. I realized someone was knocking very loudly on a door. It got progressively louder, then stopped. A few minutes later, it started again, further up the hallway. I looked out the peep hole and saw a man walking (weaving) past my door. I assumed he was a hotel guest, obviously drunk, and had forgotten where his room was. After a few minutes, when I didn’t hear the knocking any more, I went back to bed. Ten minutes later that man was banging his fist on MY door and jiggling the door handle. I called down to the front desk. The phone rang and rang with no answer. I finally hung up and pressed zero. After about 8 rings, a woman answered “Hello?” I said, “Is this the front desk?” “Yeah.” “Has anyone else called about the drunk walking up and down the hallway knocking on doors? He’s right outside my door now, trying to get in.” “Yeah, I know what’s going on. I’m taking care of it.” She hangs up. That was it. No apology for the disturbance.
A few minutes later I hear someone running down the hallway, then silence. Assuming the situation was under control, I went back to bed, put the ear plugs in and turned off the light. All of the sudden, I hear this woman yelling from the courtyard (loud enough that I hear her even with the ear plugs in): “YOU STUPID DRUNK! GET THE HELL OUT OF MY HOTEL BEFORE I CALL THE POLICE!”
I’m not an expert on hotel security policy and procedures, but I’m pretty sure this is not the recommended way to deal with the situation.
I’m thinking “Great, she’s now probably woken up everyone in the hotel.” I’m also thinking, “I hope she has someone with her to help.” I was concerned for her safety. I also hear the television in the room next door, volume turned up loud enough to drown out the outside noise. It stayed on until six o’clock that morning.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep the rest of the night. I couldn’t wait to check out of that hotel. I came downstairs at five minutes to nine. The same lady and man who had so “courteously” checked me in the day before were working the front desk. They were both sitting on stools behind the desk. Neither of them bothered to look up as I stood there. I finally said, “I’m checking out and I’d like a copy of my folio?” (They don’t slip the folio under your door at this property). I then asked them if anyone had complained about the disturbance the night before. They both gave me a blank look. “What disturbance?” I proceeded to tell them about the drunk, how he banged on several doors, including mine, and how their overnight staff had handled it. “Didn’t she file a report?” I asked. “Nope. We haven’t seen anything. This is the first we’re hearing about it.” They were both looking at me like I was delusional. “Was he a guest?” one of them asked. How the heck was I to know that? I described what the man looked like. “You may be getting complaints from other guests about this,” I said. “I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night.” The woman finally said some words of apology but it was far from the reaction I was expecting. I left with a polite “Thank you.” There was no “Thank you for staying with us. Come again!” from them.
I shared the incident with the cab driver on the way to the airport. Coincidentally, his previous job had been as head of security at a hotel. He was appalled by how the Horton Grand staff had managed the incident including that fact that they didn’t bother to offer me any compensation for my bad experience. “At the hotel I worked for if there was an incident like that we’d give them a free night’s stay or a free ride to the airport, or a discount, depending on the situation.” He then told me about how all of the customers he’s picked up from the Comfort Inn rave about the excellent service they had experienced there. “Guess I should have stayed at the Comfort Inn,” I said.
So…… if still want to stay at the Horton Grand, bring a comfortable pillow, ear plugs, and very, very low expectations of the quality of service you will receive.
But maybe you’ll be lucky. Maybe the management will actually pay attention to these reviews and either fire their subpar employees or enroll them in mandatory customer service training. Book them a stay at the Comfort Inn for inspiration!
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS EVERYTHING!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Horton Grand Hotel is in the heart of the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego, CA, with over 100 restaurants, bars, and night clubs located within four blocks. Located only four blocks to Convention Center, Petco Park, and Horton Plaza Shopping Mall. Old Town trolley stop in front of hotel. Every Guest and Grand room have gas-burning fireplace, complimentary WiFi, coffee/tea maker HD TV and welcome bottle water. Valet parking available for charge. Palace Bar open daily at 5:00 pm and Ida Bailey's open for breakfast. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Horton Grand Hotel San Diego