When President Barack Obama visited the Bay Area this week on a Democratic fundraising jaunt, he could have stayed at a five-star hotel in San Francisco with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Or he could have stayed in San Jose, the bustling Silicon Valley metropolis, or even in Oakland, home of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, who recently paid him a visit at the White House.
Instead, the president and his entourage stayed Wednesday night at the Sheraton San Jose Hotel in Milpitas, California, which online reviewers say has spotty Wi-Fi and dated furnishings and is within sniffing distance of the pervasively stinky Newby Island Landfill.
"He could have done better," Sheraton guest Robert Hasbon said Friday morning, laughing out loud when he was informed the president had graced the same hotel where he was staying.
Sure, the Seattle business traveler said, the digs were fine for him. But Hasbon thought the leader of the free world could have probably picked a slightly fancier place to rest his head, without a view of a freeway nicknamed "the Nasty Nimitz."
The White House did not respond to a request for comment Friday on why he stayed at the hotel, which is more modest than the luxurious Fairmont hotels in San Jose and San Francisco where Obama has stayed on previous Bay Area visits.
The Sheraton's best feature is arguably its outdoor swimming pool, with cascading water spouts in the background. Otherwise, the feeling of the hotel is clean, but underwhelming by presidential standards. Gold carpeting with brown accents and shiny faux-leather couches, complete with alligator print, flank the first-floor hallways.
The general manager of the Sheraton on Barber Lane in Milpitas, which means "little corn fields" in Spanish and is home to about 70,000 residents, declined to speak to a reporter with NBC Bay Area on Friday, though he told the San Jose Mercury News that the staff was determined to send guacamole and chips to Obama, despite security restrictions, and that the president found them to be "excellent."
Staff also refused on record to discuss the presidential visit. Two employees in the hotel restaurant did say that while they knew Obama was at the hotel, they did not personally see him or serve him. The president did not eat hotel food, they said, or have room service sent up to him. One of the waiters said: "He had his own people do that."
A representative from the Fairmont hotel in San Jose declined to elaborate on why Obama wouldn't have stayed there at one of the Fairmont facilities this time, saying all guests are entitled to their privacy.
Still, onlookers in Milpitas had their theories on why Obama chose their city, and this hotel in particular, to rest his head in.
"Well, it's close to the airport," said Dustin Dong, who works across the street and saw the presidential caravan outside his office early Thursday morning. "And well, it's not that top end, so I guess it wouldn't be that big of a target."
NBC Bay Area's Kris Sanchez and NBC Universal's Asher Klein contributed to this report.