Inexpensive hotels are hard to come by in San Francisco. Especially properties that are also convenient to the city’s major attractions and have easy access to public transportation. Add to the checklist the desire to stay somewhere that is not a complete dive and the options become slim to none.
At least that’s what I thought before stumbling upon Hotel Tomo, a Joie de Vivre property with a Japanese pop culture theme. The hotel website promised unique murals in each room, a quirky lobby with arcade-style games, and an on-site restaurant that has been serving Japanese cuisine for over 30 years. There was even an option to stay in the “Player’s Suite,” a party room with a circular bed and an 8-foot LCD screen for playing video games and belting out karaoke. It seemed too quirky to pass up.
I definitely didn’t know what to expect. Would I be bombarded with manga and have to endure mingling with pigtailed girls decked out in Hello Kitty accessories in the lobby? After making my reservations, I feared the hotel might end up being too over the top. But once I checked in and took a peek around, my anime anxiety subsided. In reality, Joie de Vivre took an outdated hotel and added subtle touches to give it some character. The communal spaces were painted in fun colors, while the comfortable rooms were furnished with clean lines and tastefully decorated. Despite the pictures on the hotel website, there were no graphic novels or action figures on the bedside table (I suppose you have to bring those yourself). I did, however, see some guests decked out as video game characters on their way to a convention while passing through the lobby.
Would I stay at Hotel Tomo again? For sure. Will I recommend it to others? Only those who will enjoy on-site parking, free Internet, a Keurig coffeemaker, friendly staff, and a fun atmosphere. Click through the gallery below to see more images of the hotel.