For our trip home from Australia I’d booked awards on United Airlines in business class, Sydney – San Francisco – Austin. Originally there was a standard-length connection in San Francisco of just a couple of hours, and I didn’t know if we’d want it. Flying straight through with a toddler is a lot.
It still made sense to include the San Francisco – Austin first class segment in the award just in case because the only difference in cost was extra airport and security taxes. We could make the decision at the last – in Sydney we’d check our bags in and tag them all the way through to Austin, but have to collect them and walk them through customs in San Francisco anyway. So the decision point was whether to drop them back off after customs or not.
I booked Alaska Airlines award flights home, San Francisco – Austin, the next day. If we took the United flights we could just cancel the Alaska Airlines redemption.
Booking The Grand Hyatt SFO For Just A Few Hours, Or A Night?
Some time after booking the United award a schedule change meant a six hour connection in San Francisco. That increased the odds I’d use the connecting flight, but I still wasn’t sure. I booked a room at the Grand Hyatt SFO for the night before our arrival (using 23,000 points for a category 5 hotel against a ~$480 cash room rate) to ensure that it would be ready in the morning.
We’d make our decision whether to continue home same day once we landed in San Francisco. Either way we’d head to the Grand Hyatt for a nap and possibly a shower. If we were in good shape to fly home with our daughter to Austin, we’d head back to the airport. If not, we could extend to another night.
Our daughter did amazingly well on the flight back from Australia, as she’d done on the way down – slept half the flight, watched some shows and played happily with toy – so we decided to go home that day. We’d only need the Grand Hyatt room for a few hours. But I considered it well worth it so we could all grab a nap for a couple of hours. Plus it would give me an opportunity to do this Grand Hyatt SFO Airport review.
Dropping Luggage Back Off With United
Post-customs we went to drop our bags off with United. It was a bit of a zoo, and as soon as we made it to the front, staff there decided to knock off work leaving no one behind to take luggage. We had to head upstairs to check-in in the international terminal and that was a mad house.
Lines were snaking around the terminal for coach bag drop. We navigated around people to international business class bag drop where there was only one person ahead of us, but no United staff. I decided to wait there and after about 10 minutes someone came by and helped us.
It turned out the traveler ahead of us wasn’t eligible for the line and a bit of an argument proceeded, made more challenging by a language barrier. Finally the United agent relented and helped them, then helped us, and we were free of our luggage.
Had we decided to take our bags it would have been possible to grab a luggage cart right outside the hotel before getting back on the airtrain to the terminal (also a great place, then, to drop off a luggage cart.)
Heading From The Terminal To The Grand Hyatt SFO
After dropping off bags it was a simple walk to the Airtrain and ride straight to the Grand Hyatt station. Right down the escalator is the hotel.
It’s reportedly also possible to make the trip on foot, but I wouldn’t attempt that wish significant luggage.
Grand Hyatt SFO Review: Check-in And Lobby
Staff at the hotel were friendly and greeted us warmly. The agent was briefly confused over our having booked the night before, but had us blocked in a junior suite which was perfect. Globalist benefits were explained, that the club was open but breakfast would be available either in the restaurant or as to-go items from the market.
The ability to do a grab and go if you’re heading off to an early flight is appreciated, and also when there’s not a club lounge at a hotel I often prefer to eat in my room anyway. We wouldn’t be staying long enough for that on this trip.
The public spaces we passed by enroute to the elevators were lovely, both in design and because the hotel still feels new. It opened about a year before the pandemic and is relatively lightly-used as a result (airport hotels tend to wear faster than others thanks to the preponderance of one night stays).
Grand Hyatt SFO Review: Junior Suite
The room we were assigned to had a small living room (looking out over a freeway and hills), a small bedroom (looking out over airport operations) and a large bathroom that spanned the length of the room. These XX48 rooms are great and I believe considered standard suites at the hotel for upgrade purposes (whether in advance or complimentary if available at check-in).
The living room featured a couch, small desk, and television.
The bedroom had a small lounge sofa in the window in addition to the bed.
Beside the lounge chair there’s even binoculars and a guide in the room to help you identify what kind of aircraft you’re looking at. A really nice touch!
The bathroom was lovely, though I’ve heard complaints about the shower heads and low water pressure.
We refreshed in the room and then napped for about two and a half hours, then made the airport airtrain trip back to the international terminal where our connecting flight was departing from.
What Makes This A Quick (Incomplete) Review
Reportedly the gym is excellent but I didn’t have the chance to check it out. The hotel has a club lounge (“Grand Club”) but it hasn’t returned to full operation. Instead the beautiful club space offers just fruit, granola bars, chips, nuts and the like along with soft drinks and a coffee machine. Breakfast would have been a choice of restaurant (Quail & Crane) or takeaway from the market.
There’s a grab and go market in the lobby, and room service is offered as 24 hour delivery from the market. That’s not my favorite setup, but 24 hour access to food is fantastic and helpful for an airport hotel with very late and very early arrivals and departures.
Grand Hyatt SFO Airport Review In A Nutshell
The Grand Hyatt SFO Airport review: a gorgeous hotel. Standard rooms are small, but the rooms are gorgeous, and the views of the airfield are magnificent. The hotel appropriately plays these up. It’s an expensive property for what it is, but if you can manage it, the convenience is unbeatable and it’s one of the better airport hotels in the United States. Unquestionably this is the property you want to stay at for a San Francisco airport overnight, cost-permitting.