I have two criteria for hotels. For me, one type of hotel is solely meant to serve as a place to sleep—to rest your head until you wake up to start a new day of sightseeing. The second type of hotel is meant to be an experience. The Hotel Del Coronado fits the second category.
One of a few wooden Victorian beach resort structures left in the United States, a stay at the Hotel Del is best spent exploring the property and enjoying its oceanfront location. Below is my review of the Hotel Del Coronado.
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A Perfect Day at the Hotel Del Coronado
There may be no better way to start a perfect day in San Diego than to wake up at the Hotel del Coronado — affectionately nicknamed “The Del.”
The classic Victorian hotel located on Coronado Island is just a half-mile bridge ride from San Diego. The bridge ride itself offers spectacular coastal views as you pass from the city to Coronado.
Minutes from Sea World, the San Diego Zoo and other world-class attractions, take a day on this island retreat for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
Built in 1888 and reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century European castle, The Del graciously sprawls across grounds covering 28 oceanfront acres. Its magnificence makes it a destination for millions of visitors who will never stay here, but come to see one of nature’s most inherently beautiful landscapes.
If you are one of the lucky few to wake up at The Del, start your day with coffee on your room’s waterfront deck, then enjoy a walk on the beach. Coronado beach spans about 1.5 miles and is quite different than what you’ll find right across the bay in San Diego.
The Del has one of the most beautiful and expansive stretches of white sand the Pacific coast has to offer. The beach in front of The Del is expansive and there are dunes to the right of the hotel (if you are facing the ocean) and tide pools directly in front of the hotel.
Take a stroll under the sun and then cool off with a dip in the ocean.
The waves are gentle in this area and beckon one to enjoy the sea. Next, head to the hotel’s festive Sun Deck, overlooking the coastline, and relax while sipping a cool fresh beverage.
Sand Castle Man
If you are visiting on the weekend, you’ll want to stop by and see what the SandCastle Man is up to. He’s the self-appointed sand castle builder who spends hours building elaborate and quite amazing sand masterpieces on the beach in front of the hotel.
Head to Coronado Shores beach (located just south of the Hotel del Coronado) during low tide to spot the outline of a shipwreck. It’s all that’s left of the S.S. Monte Carlo, a 1936 ship and a notorious for gambling that was known for “drinks, dice and dolls.” But, watch your step– lots of edges poke up through the sand.
If you want to extend your time at the beach, The Del offers full-service lounge chairs, fringed umbrellas, half-moon cabanettes and plush day beds as well as food and drink service.
Lunch in Coronado
If you are ready to head back to the hotel grounds, my favorite spot for a casual lunch is the Sun Deck Grill. Always, playing a great soundtrack of rock classics, the restaurant offers a variety of burgers, sandwiches and salads as well as stunning beach views.
I recommend the 100% Black Angus beef Del White Cheddar Burger served with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes on a toasted brioche bun and fries. If you are in the mood, they serve up a great bloody Mary.
The lunch options on Orange Avenue are endless. One great option is Costa Azul. The complimentary chips and chipotle salsa alone will give you a reason to visit this Mexican restaurant. Try the lunch specials for a seafood taco or jalapeno coconut shrimp. If you get the timing right, you might get to watch them freshly make the tortilla shells.
Afterward, head to MooTime Creamery for a made-to-order dessert with your favorite ice cream flavor. Another sweet tooth option is Sprekels Sweets & Treats. This is a haven for chocolates or candy.
Afternoon at the Spa
Whether you drove down for the weekend from Los Angeles or flew in from Dubai on a private jet, the Del’s magnificent spa exceeds all expectations.
Bathed in natural light, the spacious spa includes 21 treatment rooms, sanctuary areas, hydrotherapy tubs, and steam rooms with mineral waters.
The Spa offers ocean-inspired therapies along with special spa packages for individuals, teens, couples, mothers & daughters and fathers & sons (which includes a 90-minute surf lesson and a Swedish massage!).
The signature “Del Massage” is a therapeutic and deep relaxation favorite popular with first-timers and regulars alike.
When your treatment is finished, relax by the spa’s private outdoor pool and fire pit — both face the ocean and are an oasis of calm and serenity. Be sure to leave plenty of time to linger, it’s truly spectacular and offers the ultimate therapeutic retreat for mind, body and spirit.
Hotel Del Coronado History
Wander the halls of the Hotel Del to soak up some of the nostalgia and history – there are many displays sharing photos of celebrity visitors, movies made at the hotel, memorabilia and guestbooks that date back to the 1800s.
Hotel del Coronado Haunted Room & Ghost
If you want to dig a bit deeper into the hotel history and especially the resident ghost, Kate Morgan head to the 1888 shop. This memorabilia shop sits behind the reception desk on the lobby floor. If you are lucky, Sandy will be working and the store won’t be too busy.
Sandy has amazing stories about the history of the hotel, Kate’s hauntings, and her own personal experiences with Kate’s ghost.
Do a quick search for Coronado Del hotel haunted and you’ll come up with lots of interesting information including the fact that the hotel ghost lives in room 3327.
Once you have learned about the Hotel Del history and trivia head to your room. I highly recommend an ocean view – the spectacular view is worth every penny. Sit in the rocker on the porch and enjoy an amazing sunset. They are guaranteed most nights and a perfect way to relax and truly enjoy this amazing spot on Coronado.
Pre-Dinner Cocktail & Sunset
Stop at one of the many restaurants for a drink or dessert. Babcock & Story Bar has an extensive list of wines, unique drinks, and appetizers.
Dinner in Coronado
For dinner, there are a variety of options.
Eno is an outdoor restaurant featuring wood-fired artisan pizzas or the casual Sheerwater serving up favorites like the Lobster Mac & Cheese with white cheddar cream. The menu offers a bit of everything and is a great choice for families.
For a fine dining experience head to 1500 Ocean. This is the hotel’s signature restaurant which features a variety of elegant indoor and outdoor settings.
Sip a glass of wine (menu features wine selections from Santa Ynez to Cabo San Lucas) and dine al fresco on the gracious patio, a perfect spot to take in a sunset. Dinner selections include a tantalizing menu of fresh seafood and steaks flawlessly prepared and presented by 1500 Ocean’s internationally ranked chefs.
The restaurant is known for its California fare featuring local ingredients from Chef de Cuisine Meredith Manee. You’ll find dishes such as California rack of lamb with black garlic potato purée, brussels sprouts, caramelized shallots, lamb jus or entrees such as local golden spotted sea bass spaghetti squash, tomatoes, shishito peppers, chorizo-clam broth as well as a host of other delicious options.
After dinner, there is nothing better than a leisurely stroll around the grounds. The evening lights on the hotel are spectacular and offer great photo opportunities. If you head to the beach, you’ll most likely find a bonfire as well.
Hotel del Coronado Rooms
Located right on Coronado Beach, the family-friendly Hotel del Coronado is one of the largest and best-known resorts in Southern California. The hotel has 679 modern-designed rooms, several restaurants and a wine bar. Rooms are either garden view or beachfront.
Hotel del Coronado Fun Facts
It is the Some Like It Hot Hotel
“Some Like It Hot” Filmed at Hotel del Coronado in 1958. Hotel del Coronado was the setting for director Billy Wilder’s classic comedy, Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.
As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. If you are comfortable with traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulation as any travel is at your own risk.
If you do decide to travel at this time, here are a few recommendations:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis.
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses and San DiegoTravel alerts.
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.
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Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.