Saturday 5 December 2009

Sofitel, Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City, California

Tucked away in a suburban district of Redwood City, a tranquil lagoon separates this Sofitel from the oil-drum-style towers of the headquarters of the software giant Oracle. Unfortunately, this French-owned hotel is a three mile walk from the open waters of San Francisco bay and about a mile from the nearest public transport - the Belmont Caltrain station. Right now, the keenly-priced rooms, which can be had for just $120 a night, are good value - you get a big bed, a big flat screen television, an iron and ironing board, a sofa and a quiet air conditioning system, all decorated in an innocuous white and cream colour scheme. The en-suite bathrooms, with pot plants, vertical strip lighting and speckled sink top, are a little more daring and are equipped with a respectable shower. The only things missing are a safe, a mini-bar and free WiFi - you can pay T-Mobile about eight bucks for a day online.

Bland, but filling
You also pay extra for breakfast, which is served in the restaurant area of the large open plan foyer. On offer is a selection of typical American dishes from about 15 dollars upwards, each served with a tall glass of orange juice and a cafetiere of weakish filter coffee. The corn beef hash ($17), which is mixed with red onion, and served with two fried eggs, is bland, but filling. It comes with a small fruit kebab. As you have to pay sales tax and a tip on top, its not great value. The friendly staff greet you with a cheery bonjour, but service is leisurely. Still, this Sofitel is spacious, has a smart, modern gym and a small outdoor pool, a replica Paris metro sign and period lampposts on the terrace overlooking the lagoon. Moreover, it is only a 20 minute taxi-ride from San Francisco International airport, making it a convenient base for meetings at this end of Silicon Valley. 7/10