I’ve stayed in dozens of cheap hotels/motels in my life; a line-up of Motel 6s, Econo Lodges and America’s Best Value Inns to keep the cost of accommodations low on vacations.
Despite their different names and logos, there’s not much else that differentiates the experience between these low-cost chains. When I walk into a Best Western, I could easily be walking into a Super 8. That’s because these budget hotels’ room layout and decor are so formulaic.
This is also true for most all independent motels across the country, too.
The Bay Bridge Inn fell well-within those motel expectations, but it turned out that the small hotel on Harrison Street between 5th and 6th street was one of the better cheap hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Here’s 7 reasons why:
1. Free Parking: If you’ve ever stayed in San Francisco, you know that on-site parking is a racket. Expect to pay anywhere from $28-65/night. At Bay Bridge? Free parking. It has much to do with the out of the way location, but free parking in the city is a definite plus.
From the outside, “BBI” didn’t lead me to believe that I would be in for a big surprise, but the 300+ reviews I read online were promising.
2. Friendly Front Desk: Friendly service isn’t something i point out often, and I wouldn’t in this review either if things didn’t work out in other ways, but Rikki at reception high-fived me twice.
After a pleasant experience at the front desk, I was in a good mood. I lifted my bags to the second floor room.
As I opened my door to my room, there wasn’t much that immediately stood out that made me think this wouldn’t be another typical motel stay. However, as I placed my bags down, I began to notice the thoughtful amenities.
3. King Bed: I’m a small guy, but I still appreciate a King-sized bed. Unless you request it, most small hotels/motels provide a Queen sized bed at the largest.
4. Room Size and Layout: The room was not only big enough to fit a King bed, but also a small table/desk for eating/working. Not just that, but the layout was thoughtful; with dedicated space for hanging your clothes and storing your luggage where it wouldn’t get in the flow of the room.
5. Refrigerator/Freezer: Sometimes motels have them, sometimes they don’t. BBI did.
6. Microwave: See #5.
7. Bedding: No weird paisley sheets or bedding that looks like it came from your grandmother’s linen collection, but clean white sheets and comforter. Not luxury, but at least it felt modern.
8. Bathroom: Though the room’s decor wasn’t anything special, the bathroom was definitely updated with lean white decor and nice modern touches recently. The bathroom felt more like a bathroom you’d expect to see in a boutique accommodation as opposed to a lower-end motel.
9. Free wireless that works: It doesn’t matter if you’re in a five star hotel or a Airbnb, a consistent, strong wireless connection is always a crapshoot. The good news is that BBI had a good Wi-Fi connection during my stay (and it was free).
The only downfall of the BBI? The location. It’s located in an area where there isn’t much in the immediate area and public transportation is limited. There is a Whole Foods a block and a half away, the Metreon and Westfield malls are a 12-15 minute walk, and the Moscone Center is less than 20 minutes away, so you’re not exactly stranded. Still, it’s a consideration if you want to be close to whatever action you’re in town for.
The Bay Bridge Inn isn’t a high-end hotel by any means, but as far as small motels or inns are concerned, it’s one of the best I’ve ever stayed in. The exterior may lend itself to its budget brethren, but it’s clear that the owners were thoughtful about their guest’s needs and not just maximizing profit.