Joy of Life Club

By Maggie Wells on 17 April 2008 (Updated 18 August 2011) 4 comments

Thinking about vacationing in San Francisco or anywhere else in coastal California and don’t want to spend your little bit of cash on a faceless, nameless monolith hotel chain that’s charging you to use a business center and gym you’ll never use? Give the Joie de vivre Hotels a chance and sign up for their Joy of Life Club (http://www.joyoflifeclub.com).

After living in San Francisco for some years and moving away, I regularly make visits back to the city. But doing this with kids is problematic. I can’t couch surf with a three year old and five year old (well , I could but then those people wouldn’t ever want to talk to me again). My friends don’t have kids, have dogs, or live in studio apartments. No more couch surfing. But San Francisco’s main hotels are all downtown in places I don’t want to go (downtown) or don’t want to go with children who still like to lie down on sidewalks now and then.

Thinking about vacationing in San Francisco or anywhere else in coastal California and don’t want to spend your little bit of cash on a faceless, nameless monolith hotel chain that’s charging you to use a business center and gym you’ll never use? Give the Joie de vivre Hotels a chance and sign up for their Joy of Life Club (http://www.joyoflifeclub.com).

After living in San Francisco for some years and moving away, I regularly make visits back to the city. But doing this with kids is problematic. I can’t couch surf with a three year old and five year old (well , I could but then those people wouldn’t ever want to talk to me again). My friends don’t have kids, have dogs, or live in studio apartments. No more couch surfing. But San Francisco’s main hotels are all downtown in places I don’t want to go (downtown) or don’t want to go with children who still like to lie down on sidewalks now and then.

Enter my saving grace: Joie de vivre Hotels and their Joy of Life Club. Basically, they are a chain of boutique hotels up and down California—a few of which are slightly off the beaten path (read: cheaper) and a little eccentric (read: older buildings). When you join the club each stay is worth points. I’ve racked up enough points that my next stay in San Francisco will be free.
Free stays in San Francisco! Can it get better than that?

As a club member you get funky little perks: emails giving you a discount during certain months or dates, a bottle of wine at check-in, fresh milk and cookies, sake happy hours, wine tastings, the local paper instead of the godforsaken USA Today. It’s damn well cute really. Most gimmicky club things just don’t do it for me. I hate joining things that’ll give me a discount on a pizza I wouldn’t want to put near my mouth in the first place. Free alcohol though? Dude, after a day schlepping two preschoolers around the city all day, I am so totally there…

This time around we’re staying at the Hotel Del Sol in the Marina. It’s kitschy in color scheme (read: that’s so gay). It certainly ain’t fancy but very friendly and uber kid friendly (becoming a very important element). Another family favorite is the Hotel Tomo in Japantown over the hill from this one (it’s like Ikea mated with a 13 year old Japanese anime girl and gave birth to a hotel). Last time I did the very elegant Hotel Kabuki in Japantown (they have the only hotel rooms I ever wanted to permanently live in—plus Japanese style bathtubs (read: deep and drawn by a bath assistant). The husband and I spent an anniversary at the Hotel Rex which channeled the 30s in a non-pretentious way.

A few spas are also included in their mix---notably the Kabuki Spa in Japantown (I think the perk for that one is free parking at the Japantown Mall).

Some of the reward options are pretty over the top (Choose your own adventure type stuff or VIP Sonoma County Vineyard weekends) and I know I’d rather just work up to a few free nights stays. Check it out if you are out this way.

And just cause they are quirky doesn’t mean they don’t have the basics—which for me seems to be wireless Internet access. Spending less on accommodations in California is always a plus—and it’s great when you can tell the people running things have some taste--I’ve wanted to steal every print in every room I’ve stayed in –when does that ever happen that they don’t all look like thirftstore rejects?

Happy travels…meet you for free milk and cookies at 4 pm by the pool.

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T. Brown

Informative and a fun read.

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Guest

"It’s kitschy in color scheme (read: that’s so gay)"

Was that supposed to be a joke?

Maggie Wells's picture

As the adult daughter of lesbians with a gay stepfather and as a virtual fag hag  I do not stand corrected. These rooms rock! They are the most tasteful and affordable ever and with cabana flair.

 

 

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

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I appreciate how you described our Joie de Vivre Hotels and the Joy of Life Club experiences, Margaret.

We're growing quite extensively throughout California - hotels, restaurants and spas - and always love input on how we can continue to make things better whenever you travel within our state. We'd love your ideas for our Joy of Life Club members too.