This subject deserves to be my first real entry of my Dragon*Con Guide series because it is arguably the hardest part of trying to attend the con! There are currently 5 host hotels– the ones that house official programming, include a feed to D*C TV in your room, and have contracts with the convention to give you a certain group rate. They are: Hyatt Regency, Marriott Marquis, Hilton, Sheraton, and Westin Peachtree. Naturally, these are hot commodities and are sold out within hours of going on sale. Making things worse is the fact that most, if not all, of these hotels use a third party system called Passkey to sell the blocks of rooms instead of allowing you to book through their normal websites.
To give you an idea of the craziness of the situation, I booked my room for 2013 on the Tuesday after 2012’s con. I sat on my computer as the rooms went on sale while simultaneously calling the reservation phone line, and it still took me about 15 minutes to actually get a reservation. The rooms were promptly sold out within three hours. So if you didn’t get a room in that 3 hour span throughout the entire year, what do you do?
- The most realistic option is to book a nearby offsite hotel. The official website has a long list of overflow hotels, some of which even have a discount group rate. From that list, I can recommend the Double Tree Hilton (160 Spring St. NW) from personal experience and its close location. Two more nearby options are the Holiday Inn Downtown (101 Andrew Young Intl Blvd) and Motel 6 Downtown (311 Courtland St NE). All three of these hotels are within a few blocks of the host hotels and typically charge under $200 per night, which is approximately the going price for host hotels before tax.
- The next option is to book a little further away and commute. Try to get a hotel close to a MARTA station to save yourself some travel costs. A lot of the hotels from that overflow list above are in the Midtown part of Atlanta. Just be aware MARTA closes after 12:30 or 1:00am, so you’ll have to get a cab if you’re going back late.
- Pray and hope someone offers you a spot in their room or transfers it to you entirely. The Rooms for Dragon*Con LiveJournal is your best chance, but you can try other forums.
- You can rent some of the nearby apartments for a few days, typically around the same rate as what the host hotels charge. I don’t have experience with doing this, so do it at your own discretion.
Some general thoughts and tips regarding hotels:
- Find roommates. $200 a night becomes more manageable when split 4 ways. Four is my limit for comfort, but I’ve heard tales of of 10 people fitting into a room.
- If you’re using travel booking sites, narrow your search to “Downtown.”
- Call about a week in advance to make sure your reservation is good to go.
- Expect lines when checking in or checking out. If they have a room ready, the hotels do allow early check in. They also have a luggage holding service in case you want to look around without lugging around a suitcase. Oh, and traffic will be awful if you’re bringing your things by car.
- Tip the housekeeping staff, and generally be nice to them. They tend to let people slide when they discover additional people not listed on the reservation or your stash of liquor sitting out in plain sight.