I Skipped Google's Cloud Conference to Ride the Hotel Elevator All Day

Mitch Wagner
3/29/2017

My hotel in San Francisco was... well... let's just say it didn't make a good first impression.

Nightly hotel rates in San Francisco start at "expensive" and scale quickly upward. So when I booked a hotel for the recent Google Next '17 cloud conference, I turned to Airbnb to get a better rate.

I don't have a lot of experience with Airbnb. I get nervous thinking about going to some random place to lie down and sleep in my underpants. I'm ready to flee to the comforting arms of Misters J.W. Marriott or Conrad Hilton.

But the best hotel rate I could find in San Francisco for the conference through conventional booking channels was $800-plus per night. Which was ridiculous. So I summoned my courage and booked through Airbnb.

What could go wrong?

In a message exchange with the host, I learned the room I rented was in an actual hotel, with a proper front desk. I was comforted by that; I didn't have to worry about dodgy security codes or looking for keys under doormats.

When I got to the place it was... austere.

The lobby was narrow and newly painted, with plain white paint. It looked like it could use another coat.

The front desk looked like the kind of place you'd see in a TV cop show. The TV cops are investigating the last known address of the murder victim ("vic"), a drug addict ("skell") who lived at a hotel with a front desk much like the one I faced for my two nights in San Francisco. The hotel clerk on the TV show is unshaven and wears a stained undershirt. He's reading a porno magazine, which he furtively hides when the cops arrive.

But that was not the scene I faced. That was my overactive imagination. The lobby was clean -- although plain -- and the desk clerk was a pleasant and helpful young man who kept whatever disreputable reading habits he had to himself.

Besides, this was San Francisco. San Franciscans don't hide their disreputable reading habits. They have book clubs to share their disreputable reading habits with others.

The clerk pointed me to this sheet stuck to the wall by the front desk for helpful information:

This being San Francisco, I thought a document titled "Understanding Your Radiator" might be about how I should create a safe space for the radiator's feelings. But it turned out to be an instruction sheet for using the radiator.

Next Page: The Terrifying Hallway

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ak22
ak22
3/30/2017 | 3:34:32 AM
brilliant
Haha! Who even wants a "smart" elevator, courtesy of thyssenkrupp or whoever, when you can have one of these!
danielcawrey
danielcawrey
3/30/2017 | 3:21:13 PM
Re: brilliant
This is what sucks about trying to get a hotel room during conferences in SF. The rates are ridiculous, and even less than stellar accomodations can charge an arm and a leg. 

What's even more amazing is what good deals can be had for great hotels when there isn't a massive conference going on in the city. 
ak22
ak22
3/30/2017 | 5:37:52 PM
Re: brilliant
I'm also surprised one can book anywhere based in a hotel via AirBnB. The building management in my block flats is constantly sending out stern reminders that renting out your flat via AirBnB is strictly prohibited. Seems a little harsh though!
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
3/30/2017 | 7:34:45 PM
Re: brilliant
@ak22: Well, think of it this way.  Fly-by-night short-term renters are extremely undesirable, in general, to condo associations and apartment-community landlords.  For every person who just wants a place to sleep it off in between conference sessions, it seems there's another person who wants to have a wild party and/or film a porno.  (True story!)
ak22
ak22
3/31/2017 | 2:58:40 AM
Re: brilliant
There are definitely some undesirable tenants out there looking to use Airbnb, but they're a small minority. If the ratio was 1 wild partier for every conference attendee on the site, I don't think the building management would need to be that discouraging - the flat owners would be put off as they're the ones who would lose out most.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
3/30/2017 | 7:32:35 PM
Re: brilliant
@danielcawrey: This is one of the primary reasons I generally stick to local conferences -- especially because they can be so hit-or-miss in terms of value.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
3/30/2017 | 7:31:33 PM
Radiators
This reminds me of a terrible apartment I once lived in.  The radiator was heinously awful.  We had to keep the windows wide open in the dead on winter when it was below 0 outside.  And the noise -- ugh!
Michelle
Michelle
4/2/2017 | 1:34:44 PM
Re: Radiators
@Joe sounds really really awful! Radiators are so charming otherwise... 

I hoped for a different ending to this story. I was sure Mitch encountered some underworldly villians in those dark hallways. :)
JohnMason
JohnMason
3/30/2017 | 10:18:15 PM
Charming
That was a charming video. The elevator was right out of a film noir. Thank you for the lovely ride!
kq4ym
kq4ym
4/7/2017 | 10:06:45 AM
Re: Charming
Funny and scary at the same time. "Understanding Your Radiator" might make a fine title for a book or film. But, if I saw that notice tacked to a wall, I'd be heading for another place quick, although I'd read it just for the curiosity factor.
maryam@impact
[email protected]
3/31/2017 | 4:53:04 PM
Knowing what you are getiing...
I faced a similar ridiculous hotel rate issue for Dreamforce in SF, but I did not go the Airbnb route because I worked in the hotel industry and had to go through risk management training. I learned first hand all the things that can happen in a rental for short term accidents, robberies malfunctions, video recording and of course the dirt factor. I began to fully understand reasonable hotel rates that provided security; sheets washed at specific temperatures, cleaning protocol, insurance for accidents, swimming pool maintenance, cameras, etc. I still will not pay a ridiculous rate, but I won't use Air BnB or the other competitors, there is a lot to loose beyond the money.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
4/2/2017 | 3:23:38 PM
Re: Knowing what you are getiing...
[email protected] - I respect your decision and I prefer to go the normal hotel route when I can. 
maryam@impact
[email protected]
4/3/2017 | 5:54:59 PM
Re: Knowing what you are getiing...
There are safety concerns many overlook. I feel safer in a reputable hotel chain with adequate insurance! I am personally surprised companies are using Air BnB for their employees since the liability could be significant.
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