Every once in a while I stay at a chain hotel that surpasses my expectations. Whether those expectations are high or low varies, however, I’ve found that the Sonesta Emeryville offers a winning combination of big brand consistency mixed with local personality – and for a price far less than you usually see in big city locations.
Where in the heck is Emeryville? It’s a small city snuggled up next to the San Francisco Bay in a stretch between Berkeley and Oakland. The location is well situated for travelers exploring the larger Bay Area by car and may work well for those without a car doing business in San Francisco, Oakland, or Berkeley. Given how often I’ve found the hotel sporting a sold out sign in the lobby, I’m not the only one who has found that the location and price work well our plans.
The lobby area features an open great-room concept, giving an airy feel to your arrival. The front desk staff is charming and funny as they perform a task they do dozens of times a day, always making me feel special when I check in. To the left of the front desk is the Bistro, the Sonesta’s restaurant, and while the open floor plan is great for ambiance, it can get a little noisy during peak times. There are meeting facilities onsite, and the Bistro/lobby seems to get especially noisy when those events let out.
To the right of the front desk is a small store where you can purchase snacks as well as anything you may have forgotten. They also have a limited beer and wine selection, full bottles as well as splits.
Guest room decor is neutral, shades of taupe, white, and sage, nothing with a wow factor, but reliable and consistent for the brand. They are large, well laid out for working in the room with well-placed plug-ins, and feature complimentary wifi. Again these are Sonesta standards and expected. Rooms feature coffee makers and refrigerators, the latter a much-appreciated amenity when I’m trying to eat healthily or watch my budget. The rooms are designed for short stays and don’t have a lot of drawer space. If you aren’t one who unpacks when you check in, you’ll like the luggage drop, a table that holds your luggage at a convenient height so that you can use it as if it were a drawer (two drawers are beneath the luggage drop).
Although Interstate 80 is on one side of the hotel, I’ve never found the noise to be a problem. A bay view room is great if you enjoy a view, and don’t mind the extra charge, but the times I’ve had one the morning fog all but obscured it. The Bay Bridge is out there, though, I swear it!
The hotel has a fitness center and indoor pool. Hiking trails, beaches, and other outdoor recreation is a short drive away.
My favorite convenience of the Sonesta Emeryville is the neighborhood. It’s an easy walk to shopping, restaurants, movie theaters, and more. As a business traveler often without a car, I like being able to get out of the room for these basics and I’ll often stop at Trader Joe’s (a couple blocks away) for something healthy to eat.
The BART station (McArthur) is a short shuttle ride away, and from there you have access to the rest of the Bay Area, including downtown San Francisco. If you’ve got complicated sightseeing plans, you’re going to want to rent a car, but if you’re keeping local, or just going back and forth into the city, you won’t need one.
Like many of the Bay Area hotels, the Sonesta Emeryville does not offer an airport shuttle service. The most convenient access is via BART from the Oakland Airport to the McArthur station, then take the free Emery-Go-Round (Powell/Shellmound) to the corner of the hotel. The shuttle also gives you access to other areas and the front desk staff will help you get on the right one. Parking is $12 per day, an amazingly affordable rate compared to other Bay Area parking rates.
If you don’t have to be in the heart of the city, the hotel provides affordability and convenience an easy commute away.
The Sonesta Emeryville is located at 5555 Shellmound Street in Emeryville, California. Rates at the official website start around $130 per night, and since the property is geared for business travelers, the best value will be found on weekends. The hotel is often sold out during the week. You can compare rates at Hotels.com or TripAdvisor.