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

Mitch Wagner
Wagner’s Ring
Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

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

Thus prepared, I bravely rode the service elevator -- the only elevator available -- to my room on the fourth floor. The elevator had an old-fashioned cage door that you had to pull open and closed manually. The hotel management provided this handy elevator operation tip.

When I got to my floor, I was faced with an infinite hallway with a soul-stealing mirror in the distance.

Next page: Alley of Doom

Here's the view from my hotel room window.

Remember that cop show I mentioned a couple of pages back? The alley is where they found the body.

Here's my room, from the Airbnb information page. Economic use of space!

You don't have to worry about agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) in a room like that.

And here are the window shades. They almost close.

Give them credit -- they try really hard.

Next page: The Thrilling Elevator Ride

But you want to hear the weirdest part about my hotel?

I liked it.

The room was clean, dry, warm and safe. The hotel staff and fellow guests were pleasant and helpful. The rates are reasonable -- unlike other San Francisco hotels, which charge exorbitant rates for rooms that aren't a lot better. The hotel is located in Union Square, convenient to the Moscone Center and downtown.

On the negative side: The room was noisy and those too-narrow shades let in the streetlight all night. But I didn't care. I sleep wearing earplugs and a sleep mask.

The hotel lacked the amenities that are available in more expensive hotels -- gym, posh lobby, restaurants -- but who cares? You've got San Francisco an elevator ride away.

And speaking of the elevator -- it was awesome.

The hotel is called 325 Sutter Street. It's named for the address. It's at the location of the old Park Hotel, and still had the Park sign when I stayed there. The desk clerk said it's being renovated, which could mean it'll lose some of that primitive charm. So book now!

By the way: The title of this article is a joke. I spent most of my time in San Francisco at the Google conference, and much of that time researching our special report: Google's Big Enterprise Cloud Bet.

The report looks at Google's enterprise cloud strategy. Google is a moneymaking machine. It's one of the most valuable companies in the world. But it's lousy at diversifying; 86 cents of every dollar Google brings in comes form advertising. Now, Google is looking to change that with a focus on enterprise cloud; one Google executive says he expects enterprise cloud will be a bigger business for Google than ads in three years. Will it work? And should enterprises trust Google with their precious information and apps? Find out. You need to register to get the report, but it's free, easy and fast, and you only need to do it once for full access to all of Enterprise Cloud News.

And as for the elevator: I only rode it the regular amount of times, when I needed to. I make efficient use of my time when traveling on behalf of my employer!

Well, maybe I rode it once or twice extra.

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Friend me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

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