There are many hotels in this area of California, and lots of them are in places much more interesting than this corner of San Rafael. However, the most obvious (and perhaps only) reason to stay at this Embassy Suites is for attending a conference at the Marin County Convention center next door. In that case, this is the perfect hotel, and absolutely the best place to stay.
I stay here every year for an event at the convention center, and overall I really like the hotel. The rooms are nice suites with a separate sitting area and a bedroom with a door. The sitting area is a nice place to socialize or watch TV, but it can potentially be a little dark. It has a window facing the hall, but I don’t particularly like people peeping in at me, so I keep those drapes closed. That makes the sitting area a little dark because you don’t get much light coming through from the bedroom.
If you have a kid (or two), get a room with one king bed, and put the kid(s) on the pull-out sofa in the sitting area. We travel frequently with our son, and we always appreciate when we can actually have some real privacy! Note that you can also get a room with two double beds in the bedroom, but that kills the whole privacy aspect, and a king bed is much more comfortable than a double.
The room also has a refrigerator and microwave, but there’s no safe. It occurred to me that perhaps if you freeze or cook your laptop, people won’t want to steal it anyway. So, maybe that works out fine.
The interior of the hotel is a very nice courtyard which is open (like a huge atrium) all the way up to the 5th floor. The courtyard has a waterfall and fish pond. It’s beautiful, but I recommend asking for a high floor to avoid noise from the courtyard, particularly if you are near the restaurant. The restaurant is towards the back, so a room near the front might be better. Also, it’s faster to take an elevator near the front, instead of the elevator towards the back. All the elevators go the same speed, but there are two of them at the front so you don’t end up waiting as long to get one. (There’s only one elevator at the back of the courtyard.)
Overall, I recommend the hotel as a good place to stay for a conference, and I have no serious complaints about it. You can stop reading here and you won’t miss anything important. However, there were some MINOR issues and annoyances that I’ll mention below.
I didn’t like the showerhead. The “narrow” setting was like a garden hose, and the “middle” setting didn’t have enough pressure. The “wide” setting was the most useful and comfortable, but it sent water everywhere. I found it was easy to flood the bathroom when taking a shower. That might have been because the “wide” setting of the showerhead sprayed the far wall in a way that was hard to protect by the shower curtain. And the problem may have been exacerbated by the fact that the shower curtain is made from water-permeable fabric, rather than waterproof plastic. (I wonder who thought that was a good idea!)
The wall to the adjoining room seemed exceptionally thin. While reading in bed, I could listen to the conversation next door. (No offense to my neighbors, but their conversation was less interesting than my book.) Also, while I leaned against the headboard as I was reading, the wall would “bump me” every time those neighbors went in and out of their room and slammed the door. Perhaps the wall flexed due to sudden air pressure change in their room as the door slammed? But in any case, since these particular neighbors seemed to enjoy going in and out of their room all evening, it really started to annoy me.
Also, the father in that room (based on conversations I heard) had a bad cold, and his frequent coughing was another source of annoyance for me. I called the front desk to see if I could change rooms, but unfortunately the hotel was full. I considered having room service send him some cough medicine.) Anyway, don’t let this experience discourage you. I’m sure that with different neighbors, I wouldn’t have even noticed the thin walls. (Or if the neighbors had been doing something more interesting, it might have actually been exciting.)
On the morning I was checking out, a staff member came into my room while I was at breakfast. I know someone came into the room because they opened the drapes. I can’t imagine why they would do that. They didn’t clean the room, obviously, since I was about to check out. I found this very odd and a little creepy, although I guess it didn’t do any harm. Nothing was missing. It just felt wrong to me because as far as I was concerned, they didn’t have any valid business to be in there. I guess the lesson here is that if you don’t want people wandering around your room while you are not there, put out the Do Not Disturb sign. I should have done that.
With respect to breakfast, I enjoyed the nice breakfast that is included with the price of the room. It’s a full, real breakfast with made-to-order omelets, pancakes, eggs, toast, juices, cereal, etc. Yummy! You get your breakfast tickets when you check in. Be sure you don’t lose them! On my second morning, I couldn’t find my breakfast ticket, so I stopped by the desk to get another one. The clerk gave me a whole heap of grief about it, and threatened to charge me $15 if it happened again. Yipes! I didn’t expect it to be such a big deal. My bad. Believe me, next year I promise to keep better track of my breakfast tickets! I guess I could keep them in the safe, except the room doesn’t have a safe. Oh well. ;-)
Here’s one more tip with respect to breakfast. In one particular area of the breakfast buffet, there is a toast/bread station. You’ll find a good selection of bread, a nice conveyor-belt style toaster, and a big stack of clean bread plates. You’ll find everything you’ll need for your toast, except butter and jam.
Maybe I’m just a little slow before my morning coffee, but it took me quite a long time to find the butter and jam! It’s nowhere near the breads. I looked everywhere! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good challenge. And this “butter scavenger hunt” was a very entertaining and challenging addition to my breakfast experience. (Spoiler alert.) I finally found the butter and jam cleverly hidden over in the center island by the eggs! Wow, I never would have guessed that! Of course, breakfast on the second day wasn’t nearly as challenging and entertaining because I already knew where to find the butter.
Anyway, in all seriousness, this is a nice hotel. In spite of my light-hearted feedback, I do recommend staying here, especially if you are attending a conference next door. I had no serious complaints, and I will be back again next year!
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- Also Known As:
- Embassy Suites Hotel San Rafael - Marin County / San Rafael
- Embassy Suites San Rafael
- San Rafael Embassy Suites