The suspect knocked on the front door to the Jasmine Inn at 1335 J St. about 4:15 a.m., asked for a man named Marcel, and was buzzed inside, San Diego police Officer Frank Cali said.
As the hotel clerk opened the door to the office, the suspect barged in, pulled a gun and demanded money, Cali said.
The clerk grabbed a green money bag and ran outside past the suspect. But the suspect ran close behind and took the bag, Cali said.
The suspect then ran off to the west on J Street, according to the officer.
Police described the suspect as Hispanic, in his 30s, 5 feet 9 and with a goatee. He was wearing a light green striped sweater and jeans.