The city of San Diego grew from sandy shallows fished by native Indians, passed into Spanish hands, and was annexed as part of the United States. It drew Japanese vendors and workers, Portuguese fishermen and miners coming from or going to the Gold Rush in northern California. All that industry, fluctuations in population and history live on in stories within San Diego historic hotels throughout the city. If you’re planning a trip to the area, why not enjoy the same rooms once frequented by royalty (Hotel del Coronado), by Presidents (the Horton Grand Hotel) and financial forefathers (the Courtyard by Marriott ?)

Marriott, Savings and Trust Building, San Diego Historic Hotels

The vault banquet room inside the Courtyard by Marriott downtown San Diego.

Have dinner in a bank vault

Resurrected from the elegant San Diego Trust and Savings Bank over a decade ago, the Courtyard by Marriott on Broadway is a stunning example of reuse. Everywhere remnants of the original remain. A private family reunion would be secure in the old bank vault. A secretary’s alcove remains in the original board room that now houses meetings and small banquets. The penthouse bedroom features a painted ceiling where the original architect stayed and from the outdoor deck offers a rare view of the downtown Gaslamp area. Today there are nearly 245 rooms and the lobby houses a bar where tellers once sorted bills by candlelight. Now electrified, the chandeliers still illuminate the space.

Hotel Del Coronado lobby, trip wellness, San Diego Historic Hotels

The lobby of the Hotel del Coronado

Stay where Marilyn Monroe played

Of all the  San Diego historic hotels none is better known than the Hotel del Coronado. It’s red turrets and beach front views are iconic. Holidays and special occasions echo with the memories of stars like Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemon who filmed ‘Some Like It Hot’ on the premises in the 1950’s. Presidents have held meetings in private rooms. Royalty has dined in the Great Ballroom under crown-shaped chandeliers designed by Frank L. Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz. He and his family summered in the hotel while he worked on the Oz series and drew designs for the hotel. Every Christmas holiday a giant tree fills the redwood trimmed lobby and spinning skaters circle an ice skating rink within earshot of the breakers. Whether you stop for a drink, a meal at one of the restaurants or stay a few days, the Hotel Del, as the locals call it, will become a cherished part of your history as well.

Downtown home of romantic elegance

Once Wyatt Earp roamed this part of town and slunk up to (or away from) the elegant bar inside the Horton Grand. The hotel is decorated in quiet Victorian elegance even though it’s a block from the Gaslamp district bustle and a short walk from the Convention Center. Although it’s a standout architecturally, it’s easy to miss at the location it was moved to in the 1990’s. The move involved a staircase that was dismantled stick by stick and fit into place near the classic bar. Tall windows look out to the street. An inner courtyard often fills with special events but Sunday brunch remains a favorite. There are rumors of a ghost or two but they reportedly don’t bother guests. The light-filled lobby sits between two glass walls with the street on one side and the interior brick courtyard on the other. Many of the rooms feature antiques and have petite patios. The corner Palace Bar has sidewalk seating as well as small tables inside.