The Sheraton Gateway LAX may be the worst airport hotel I’ve stayed at this year. Yes, I know it has had some rave reviews. Yes, I know it’s a difficult hotel market in general; none of the hotels there are truly inspiring. But hear me out.
My wife and I were on our way to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. I’ve discussed previously why Los Angeles is one of the best cities to find award space on Cathay Pacific. We lucked out big time, securing two first class seats nearly two weeks before departure. The only catch was that it was a 9 AM flight. We could either wake up very early in Seattle and risk the connection, or we could fly down the night before at stay in Los Angeles.
I had heard about the renovations at the Sheraton LAX and booked a night for 12,000 points. Most hotels in the area were available for close to $200. This represents a poor value for Starpoints at only 1.67 cents, but I had already spent so much on the rest of our vacation that I was committed to using points and miles when possible.
First the positive: I like the new look, and I thought our room was tastefully designed. The bright lobby was inviting, even at night. The room itself had some pops of color that helped break up the usual shades of grey that you see so often in modern hotels. Charging cables and power outlets were easy to access, especially at the desk.
What really caught my attention was the couch. It had a cool divider in the middle where you could rest a drink or share a meal from room service. “What a cool idea,” I thought. You might even be able to slide it… NOPE.
Take a closer look look and you’ll see that table is stuck in place because of the back cushions. It’s also too heavy to lift. Good in theory, impractical in practice, I’ll still give the hotel a pass. Not every great idea works well the first time. I can appreciate novelty.
I had nothing to complain about in the bathroom. Past the closet I found a walk-in shower, a single sink, and a large mirror. Pretty typical of more recent hotel designs, especially with limited space. (I mean, they can’t really make the rooms any larger than they were to begin.) I was mostly glad that it was evenly lit. Spotlights in the bathroom never make anyone look good.
Okay, I covered the good stuff. I really did like the room. But the fundamental problem with this hotel — and why I probably will never return — was the service. The staff I encountered were totally indifferent to their customers.
Our troubles with the Sheraton Gateway LAX began with the shuttle service — one of the fundamental features of an airport hotel. Arriving around 10 PM, we waited over 40 minutes for a shuttle to come by. I started counting the number of shuttles from competing hotels. There were at least five from the Concourse Hotel/Hyatt LAX, which is also the closest hotel to the airport and the one least in need of a shuttle. The Hilton, Marriott, and Crowne Plaza also had at least three shuttles.
There was one shuttle for the Sheraton during all this time, and it didn’t even stop to pick us up. No shit, Sherlock, since one shuttle is going to fill up long before it reaches Terminals 5, 6, and 7. We ended up walking to the hotel. Along the way I passed the rest of the fleet sitting in a dark parking lot.
When we finally got to the front desk, we were third in line to check in. Not worrisome at all, especially with three staff to help out. But again, for some reason not readily apparent each of these customers required a lengthy check-in process. A manager would dart out to look at the line and then run back to his office. Not a single mention of any inconvenience when I finally reached the front, over an hour after we landed.
The next morning, when trying to get back to the airport, I asked the front desk when the next shuttle would leave. “The shuttle leaves every 20-30 minutes,” was the stock reply. No one knew when the last shuttle had left, even the valet outside. Not her job, apparently.
During our stay at this hotel, the only person who greeted us, who was friendly, and who engaged in the smallest conversation was the shuttle driver — employed by a different company. She did eventually appear after a short wait. But it only heightened the contrast with the staff back at the hotel, who seemed to resent their customers’ presence. Fortunately, our stay at the Sheraton Gateway LAX was also the only real negative experience we had on our vacation. Once the shuttle driver got us back in good spirits, we were ready to have some fun on Megan’s first trip with Cathay Pacific!