Airport hotels don’t seem to get a lot of love. Mostly built for single night stays (or often day-use stays) with odd arrival and departure times and travelers who are mainly interested in sleep, these oft-seen but seldom remembered hotels still provide a very important brand of hospitality that shouldn’t be overlooked. The hospitality provided in these hotels is of a kind that is centuries old, and was often found in roadside inns and taverns before the advent of the grand hotel. Hospitality was a hard(er) business then, providing accommodations and meals for travelers (who were often regarded with suspicion to begin with) who oftentimes would leave without paying the bill.

Today, airport hotels uphold that tradition of providing a hospitality that by its very nature requires function and dependability, and while flash and sparkle aren’t as important as they might be at a landmark property in the city center, they’re certainly not to be forgotten.

The DoubleTree by Hilton San Francisco Airport North provides just that brand of hospitality to travelers.’s recent visit made for an arrival into San Francisco International Airportlate on a rainy winter evening. Other tired travelers disembarking during that late evening period had just arrived from destinations throughout the U.S. and Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific regions. Still more arriving travelers were arriving for flights departing back to many of those destinations at or near midnight. Coming off a long intercontinental flight in the late evening, it’s often worthwhile to break the journey for the evening and continue the following morning, especially if the drive is long or the connecting flight at an inconvenient time. The complimentary shuttle comes in handy.

The sense of arrival at these airport properties is characterized by the luxury of silence. The chaotic drama of the airport with its aircraft and vehicle traffic and constant stream of overhead announcements fades away to the rustle of the wind through the trees and the gentle lapping of the adjacent San Francisco Bay on the rocks once the shuttle rumbles to a stop in front of the hotel. Front desk staff at these properties seem to be even more alert to guest visual cues than they often are at city center hotels. They seem to sense when guests seek friendly conversation after 14 hours of interaction with flight attendants and electronic screens, or when guests are ready for a quick check-in, basic instructions, and a room key as quickly as possible. DoubleTree properties are particularly strong in the “welcoming” function with their famous cookies, which could be even more appreciated at the end of a long travel day. Although you can ask for more at check-out, the staff at this property offered them, or bottles of water, upon departure. General Manager Jason Dorfman points out that the staff at this property have been acknowledge as leaders in the DoubleTree brand for the service they provide, and it’s easy to see why.

Guest rooms in the hotel are recently renovated and some enjoy views of the bay. They’re also adequately soundproofed to the point that when one finally stops and enjoys the suddenly bizarre sensation of simply not moving after hours and hours of perpetual transit, the silence seems somehow foreign. The hotel is generally well-maintained and the design evokes a sense of warmth and coziness, but there are touches like the stackable coffee table in some suites and the wall art that make this property a touch more than functional. There’s also a pool and a workout room (both work wonders on a body and soul ravaged by jet lag).

Another indulgence after a long flight and a restful sleep (the beds are the lovely DoubleTree Sweet Dreams beds) is the sumptuous breakfast buffet, which is included with stays in suite accommodations and is otherwise just $18 (inexpensive for a hotel breakfast buffet) for the full buffet or $14 for the continental buffet. There’s good strong Lavazza Coffee, peppered bacon, a lovely farmer’s omelet as well as some deli items that would appeal to European diners, plus some pretty faithfully done croissants and danish pastries. There’s also a waffle bar, and omelets are made to order.

Even for a short stay (late arrival, standard checkout) where the hotel and its staff have but a few hours to leave travelers with a lasting impression, they certainly do so in spades; the hotel serves the function of a brief respite from the vagaries of travel perfectly well, and provided for a memorable stay, for all the right reasons.

Accommodations were furnished by DoubleTree in preparation for this story.