After Seattle, the next stop on my recent US West Coast trip was sunny San Diego, where I needed to book a two-night stay.
After browsing through the city’s abundance of Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt options, I decided to burn a couple of Hyatt Free Night Awards at the Andaz San Diego.
Andaz San Diego – Booking
The Andaz San Diego is a Category 4 property within World of Hyatt, making it an ideal redemption for a Hyatt Category 1–4 Free Night Award, which you can earn through many different ways.
In my case, I had earned a Free Night Award from reaching 30 elite qualifying nights with Hyatt this year (thanks to the Winter 2020 Bonus Journeys promotion that doubled the 15 nights I had actually stayed and helped me reach Globalist status until February 2023).
I had also earned a second Free Night Award from participating in Hyatt’s Brand Explorer promotion, which rewards you with a Category 1–4 free night every time you stay at five different Hyatt hotel brands.
I collected my first Brand Explorer Free Night Award upon completing stays with Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Place, Alila, and UrCove. And since this would be my first stay at an Andaz, I’d be getting a head start towards my next Brand Explorer free night.
Hyatt’s Free Night Awards typically have expiration periods of between six months and one year, and my two certificates were set to expire at the end of 2021 and in mid-2022, respectively.
I could’ve kept them around for future stays, but since I had an opportunity to get them off the books here at the Andaz San Diego, I went ahead and redeemed them, since it’s always better to lock in guaranteed value than leaving things up in the air.
Indeed, I was quite happy with the value I was getting, since the Andaz would’ve otherwise cost me upwards of US$300+ per night if I paid with cash. Since a Category 1–4 Free Night Award is equivalent to 15,000 Hyatt points (the cost of a Category 4 points redemption), and we value Hyatt points at 1.5 US cents/point, I was coming out ahead by quite a sizeable margin here.
If it weren’t for the free nights, I most likely would’ve chosen to stay at the Andaz anyway. Redeeming 15,000 Hyatt points per night would also make a lot of sense compared to the cash rate, whereas neither points redemptions nor cash bookings at San Diego’s other Marriott or Hilton hotels appealed to me very much.
Andaz San Diego – Location
The Andaz is situated in Downtown San Diego at the northern end of the historic Gaslamp District, along F Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.
I can’t exactly recall whether I’ve visited San Diego before when I was younger, but this was my first time in town as an adult, and I found the location to be a convenient base from which to do some light exploration.
The historic city centre of the Gaslamp Quarter is fairly interesting to walk around, although you’ll need a car or Uber to get to most other points of interest.
My Uber ride from San Diego International Airport cost about US$20 after the US$3 airport pickup fee – cheaper than other cities, given the relatively close proximity between the airport and Downtown.
There’s always a couple of friendly bellhops stationed at the Andaz’s front entrance, ready to open vehicle doors, assist with luggage, and welcome guests to the hotel.
Andaz San Diego – Check-in
The hotel keeps its lobby fairly modest, with two circular check-in pods to your right as you enter.
There’s also a small lobby lounge with all-day self-serve cold brew, which is a feature I appreciated, as it tasted better than the machine-brewed coffee in the room for that first pre-breakfast cup of coffee in the mornings.
My check-in interaction was brief. I had texted the hotel earlier (the Hyatt app doesn’t offer a chat feature directly with the hotel, but did give me a number I could text) to ask if I could get a suite upgrade as a Globalist member, and it was granted without any fuss.
At check-in, then, I simply inquired about the breakfast offering at the hotel – I’d be treated to a full Globalist breakfast at the rooftop restaurant, which was music to my ears.
I was also asked for my choice of cabernet or chardonnay as my welcome beverage, which was poured directly at the check-in desk into a plastic cup for me to take with me. Perhaps not the most elegant welcome beverage ever served, but hey, it made for a nice pre-dinner drink.
With those formalities out of the way, I took my keys and headed up to the 4th floor.
Andaz San Diego – Andaz Suite
I had been upgraded to an Andaz Suite, which is the hotel’s standard suite to which Globalist members can expect space-available upgrades.
The suite comes with a fairly wide entryway, which played host to a rather understocked pantry section during these pandemic times.
Normally, Andaz hotels are known for offering free minibar items in the room, although the Andaz San Diego had withdrawn the minibar during the pandemic and had yet to reintroduce them when I stayed in August 2021.
(Instead, complimentary snacks and treats are available at the front desk as a replacement minibar benefit. I helped myself to some cookies and snack mix on my second day at the hotel.)
The living room featured a fairly standard elongated couch along with a contemporary coffee table. Opposite these were the wall-mounted television and what appeared to be a desk and office chair, although I have to say it was one of the most uncomfortable workspaces I’ve used at a hotel.
The chair was simply far too low compared to the desk, and it was impossible to adjust the height, since this was more of an accent chair than an office chair.
On the other hand, the king-sized bed was at least very comfortable, and gave me some good rest over the course of the two nights. Indeed, I often found it more comfortable to work on my laptop while sitting in bed, instead of using the desk.
The bathroom consisted of a simple glass-top sink, along with the toilet and shower in the neighbouring unit. Water pressure on the shower is something I always pay attention to, and this one was unfortunately rather weak.
Overall, I thought the Andaz Suite here in San Diego did a fine job of showcasing the brand’s signature “modern and playful” identity on my first stay with Andaz, but wasn’t too much to write home about otherwise.
Andaz San Diego – Breakfast
Breakfast as a Hyatt Globalist member was a highlight of staying at the Andaz San Diego.
The hotel has two restaurants: STK Steakhouse on the ground floor, and The Roof by STK on the seventh-floor rooftop.
Since the main restaurant was open with only limited indoor seating at the time, the rooftop patio was naturally where most of the action was concentrated, including breakfast in the mornings and brunch on Sundays.
As a Globalist member, I was free to pick any breakfast dish and a beverage from the wide-ranging menu, and I naturally opted for the Lobster Benedict on both mornings.
Mid-range North American hotels sometimes get a bad rap for providing mediocre breakfast benefits, but I mean, it doesn’t get much better than generous helpings of lobster with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce on top. Maybe that bad rap should be reserved for certain hotel chains other than Hyatt, after all…
A friend joined me for breakfast on the second morning, and her SoCal Omelette with turkey breast and tomatoes turned out to be delicious as well.
I walked away from breakfast feeling happy and full on both days, and it certainly made me feel like my “investment” in Hyatt Globalist status at the turn of the year was continuing to pay off.
Andaz San Diego – Other Facilities
The hotel’s rooftop tends to get pretty busy in the afternoons and evenings thanks to its outdoor pool, which is open from sunrise to sunset. There’s a live DJ on Friday and Saturday evenings, which I imagine would make for a great atmosphere.
The top floor also features a fitness centre, which is essentially one large room with a row of treadmills and exercise machines, as well as an area for free-weight workouts with some corny word art on the walls. Due to the pandemic, occupancy was limited to five guests at a time.
I was mostly visiting San Diego to meet a few friends rather than for tourism, and in that regard, the Andaz San Diego was a nice enough home base.
I was happy to get some Hyatt Free Night Awards off the books at a good value, especially when paired with my ever-more-useful Globalist benefits such as Lobster Benedict for breakfast. I did wish the Andaz Suite’s workspace was more comfortable, but that’s only a small inconvenience at the end of the day.
I also enjoyed trying out an Andaz hotel for the first time and getting a sense for the brand’s positioning within Hyatt’s portfolio. I’d compare it to a Renaissance in the Marriott world – a modern and edgy mid-range brand with a strong lifestyle focus.
There aren’t too many San Diego hotels that seem appealing to me, especially when it comes to the value in redeeming points or free night certificates. I’ll most likely return to the Andaz the next time I’m in town – but I also wouldn’t rule out a stay at the Hotel del Coronado, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, if I’m in the mood to laze around on the beach instead of staying downtown.