Anime convention hotels – gotta love them, gotta hate them.
A few weeks ago, I was playing the hotel lottery for Anime Central 2021 in Chicago (or Acen for short). Who knows if COVID-19 will be over by then. It took me a very long time to book the hotel I wanted (the site kept crashing), so I can tell there’s gonna be a huge demand for cons when they return.
Luckily for me, I was able to snag a hotel for the convention for Anime Central! That’s the good news. The bad news? The hotel is $220 USD a night, which is around $300 CAD for me! This breaks my heart (and my wallet). But I put up with it because Anime Central is one of my favourite conventions.
What does my annual heartbreak of paying for Acen hotel prices have to do with all this?
Well, I figured a post about cons with the best and worst hotel rates would be a fun thing for you guys to read! So here we are.
In this article, I will go through some Anime convention hotels I’ve been to, and whether the hotel rates for them were amazing or awful.
I based my criteria on a number of factors:
- Hotel room itself
- Proximity to convention
- Location (a hotel downtown will cost more than one in the middle of nowhere)
A couple of things before we start:
i) These are based on my experience only. Obviously I haven’t stayed at every single convention in the world, let alone North America. I’m slowly making my way up there! But I can only speak for cons I’ve actually been to.
ii) I also want to emphasize – just because a convention may have the worst hotel rates (or incredibly difficult to book), doesn’t mean the con is bad itself. In fact, it probably means the con is great if the hotel rates are inflated and hard to get. That means people enjoy the con enough to want to attend! Dragon Con is the perfect example. I’ve only heard amazing things about this con, but the hotel rates/policies are the absolute worst.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Anime Convention Hotels With The Best Rates
Blue Mountain Village Hotel (Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario, Canada).
If you read my previous article, you know why this hotel is on the top of the list. To summarize it basically, you get to experience a ski resort at a huge discount during YetiCon! If you’re on a budget, you can book a room at the Blue Mountain Inn for under $200 CAD/night. But I recommend getting one right in the village. While they’re a bit more than $200 CAD/night inside the heart of the resort, these prices are a steal compared to what you pay normally. Also, not many Anime convention hotels come with a fireplace, kitchen AND a balcony, so the hotel room itself is top notch. Seriously, if you want to experience a ski resort without paying a hefty price, getting a hotel room during YetiCon is the way to go!
Sakura-Con (Seattle, Washington).
Of all the big cons I’ve attended in large cities so far, I’d say Sakura-Con has the best hotel rates. Although I found Sakura-Con itself to be your average decent large convention, I absolutely appreciated the easy and (relatively) cheap process of getting a hotel for this con. Sakura-Con takes place right in the heart of downtown Seattle, yet the hotel prices don’t reflect that. The hotel I stayed at was pretty fancy and around $177 USD a night, which is insanely cheap for a large American city downtown.
Not only that, it was insanely easy to book a room. I booked my hotel last minute, yet there were tons of rooms available at the numerous hotels they offered. It was great. And if I really wanted to save money, there was a hostel only 10 minutes away from the convention that had private rooms for less than $100 USD/night! Sakura-Con is a more budget-friendly con for you West Coast convention goers, and you get to enjoy the beautiful city of Seattle!
Youmacon (Detroit, Michigan) (only if you’re staying at the GM Renaissance Center).
With a great view, great price and with the con+amenities being only an elevator ride away, the GM Center is top-tier. Just watch out for those elevator lines on Friday and Saturday night.
You would think that with Detroit’s reputation, the hotel prices would be dirt cheap? Eh not really. Shockingly, the non-official hotels for Youmacon can go for over $300 USD a night, which to me is very expensive. However, the one and only official hotel for Youmacon, the GM Renaissance Center, goes for $162 USD a night (last time I went).
Considering that the GM Center is MASSIVE with 5 floors of convention activities, a big food court in the basement and convience stores in the building, $162/night is a great price for being only an elevator ride away from the con. You don’t even have to go outside the entire convention; you can take the People Mover train to the other convention building in your pajamas if you wanted! Of course, the long elevator lines for the GM Center are annoying. But other than that, it’s a great deal. If you want to read more about Youmacon, check out my guide here.
Toronto Comicon (Downtown Toronto, Ontario).
For those who don’t know, Toronto Comicon is a 3-day event in March that takes place in downtown Toronto. It’s run by the same guys who host Fan Expo (link), the biggest fan con in Canada. Surprisingly, the hotels were only $100-$150 a night. Not only is this an amazing price for a downtown Toronto hotel, the hotels themselves were literally right beside the con. One hotel you don’t even have to walk outside; this is a huge bonus during the cold winters of Toronto! So if you’re coming from out of town for Toronto Comicon for the weekend, these hotels are a steal. You can leave your cosplay stuff in the hotel and head out downtown for the evening to a bar or restaurant with some friends.
P.S. If you’re wondering about the Anime convention hotel rates during Fan Expo, the hotel rates do go up unfortunately.
Holiday Matsuri (somewhere in Orlando, Florida).
I went to Holiday Matsuri last year for the first time and I totally LOVED it! It’s such a fun convention and there’s a BIG pool and hot tub in the hotel. I paid $169 USD a night to stay right at the hotel/convention centre and got a really nice view! Honestly, you’re better off just staying right at the convention…because I noticed super long lines for the shuttle buses to the other hotels. Save yourself the hassle and stay at the Orlando World Center Marriott!
MAGFest (National Harbor, Maryland…close to Washington, DC).
The rates might be different now, but when I went to MAGFest back in 2016, I only paid $148 USD a night which is a really good rate for staying right at the resort and at the convention centre!
Anime Convention Hotels With Alright Rates
Anime North (Near the airport/middle of nowhere in Toronto, Ontario).
I’ll admit that the main hotels have been going up in price recently. But most of them still remain under $200 a night CAD (not USD), which is still pretty decent. And some of the offsite hotels are a freaking bargain (e.g. Hotel Carlingview for $109/night, Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport ($129/night) and Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport ($139/night). And all those hotels I just mentioned are only a bus ride away from the con. It may or may not be the best convention in Canada but to me it’s the most budget-friendly big con we have.
P.S. Check out this post if you want to snag one of the main hotels for AN, even if they’re already sold out.
ConBravo! (Hamilton, Canada)
When I booked my hotel for ConBravo! a few years ago, it was around $157 CAD a night. This isn’t too bad for a mid-sized city like Hamilton. It was right in the middle of the city centre, which is good and bad! The location was great as the hotel is one of the venues and connected to the convention centre.
(view of Congress Centre and Hotel Monville or Travelodge)
Otakuthon (Montreal, Canada)
The hotel rates for Otakuthon seem to be standard pricing, considering the prime downtown Montreal location. But they used to be much cheaper.
I struggled to place Otakuthon on this list. On one hand, the relatively high hotel prices (most of them over $250+ CAD a night) seem reasonable for downtown Montreal during peak summer tourist season. But on the other hand, I’ve been to Otakuthon during its early years at the Palais des Congres and I remember how crazy cheap the hotel prices were. Not only were the Anime convention hotels under $150 CAD/night, you had PLENTY of lodging options in downtown that were even cheaper than the con hotels.
But unfortunately, Otakuthon always happens on the same weekend of another popular event (e.g. Osheaga music festival). So the hotel demand skyrockets, and so do the prices. So I will put Otakuthon in the middle tier category for now. In 2019, I was able to get a hotel room for $175 CAD/night right beside the convention centre, which was pretty good considering everywhere else was much more expensive. Still, you should definitely attend Otakuthon not only because it’s a top tier convention, but to experience the awesome city of Montreal!
Cons With BAD Hotel Rates
Anime Central (Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Illinois).
As much as I love this con, the hotels are very expensive for an area that shouldn’t even be that expensive. The con is located close to the airport but really feels like the middle of nowhere, in some city called Rosemont in Illinois…far far away from Chicago. Hotels for at least $200 USD a night. Despite the shitty hotel prices, I feel like Anime Central is criminally underrated. Only a few people I know personally actually attend this con. The atmosphere at this con is unlike anything I’ve ever seen…you’re GUARANTEED to have an amazing time at this con. I highly recommend going to this con and to visit Chicago!
Boston is one of the most expensive cities to stay in, and Anime Boston is no exception. I was shocked to see hotels for AB go for $300+ USD/night. Luckily my roommate found a cheap hostel near the convention, and we stayed there for only $40 USD/night. But if you plan on staying right at the convention, you better save up!
Anime Weekend Atlanta.
Of all the big conventions I’ve attended, I’d say Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA) had the absolute worst hotel rates. Why? First of all, the con is located almost an hour away from downtown Atlanta. So you figure the hotel rates would be cheaper because of the remote location? Nope not at all. Not only were the hotels really far away from the actual convention center (more than 10-15 minute walk), but almost all of them were close to $250-$300 USD a night, which is mind blowingly expensive.
Fortunately, I was able to find a hotel around $200 (usd?) a night and to be fair, the hotel itself was nice. But to reach the con, I had to walk on the middle of a busy road (a branch was in the way), cut through a large mall (or the sketchy parking lot at night) and walk over a highway bridge. It totally sucked. It was like paying for ski resort prices, but without the amenities or convenience of a ski resort. And that’s why AWA is on the bottom of this list; sky high hotel rates without any of the convenience.
The funny thing was that when I stayed in downtown Atlanta for 1 night after the con, I actually paid less to stay there than I did for the hotel during Anime Weekend Atlanta…only $100 USD. If I ever go back to AWA (I probably won’t), I’ll stay in downtown instead of paying triple the price at the con and not even being close to the convention center. I’ll try Momocon or Dragon Con next time.
There you have it; my list of Anime convention hotels with the best and worst rates!
So when cosplay conventions do return, let’s show our appreciation for con organizers. Not only for organizing such great events, but for giving us Weebs a discount for things that would otherwise be expensive (well most cons at least).
Which conventions have you been to, and were the Anime convention hotels cheap or expensive for you? Let me know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this article, check out my other posts: