What a great area.
I knew about the Del Coronado Hotel, one of the legends of the California (if not the entire U.S.) hotel scene. But I'd never been there to my knowledge, and I certainly didn't remember the area at all. I won't forget it soon, however.
I was in the area for a night earlier this week and thought it was awesome. The hotel is a beauty that celebrates its 125th birthday this year; a wooden gem with turrets and charm to spare and tons of modern amenities.
With the pure white, wooden exterior and red roof and turrets and towers and arches and a dark wood lobby and fancy/fun shops and flags flying in the breeze, the hotel would look great if it sat in the middle of Downsview Park. The fact that it sits on a broad, broad strand of some of the finest sand in the country, Coronado Beach, makes it that much more appealling.
The hotel sits back a bit from the beach, with a huge pool and sun deck that makes a great place for a cup of coffee or a fancy cocktail. There's an extensive garden and a series of small casitas or condo-like homes you can rent, just steps from the water. (Be advised, however, that this time of year the water in southern California is still pretty chilly. I find most tourists are surprised to find out that the water at the beach in California is mighty cool most of the time, owing to the fact that it flows south from Alaska. You're likely to find warmer water in Nova Scotia or PEI in summer than in California because of the Gulf Stream.)
The lobby at the Del Coronado is rich with deep wood beams and just oozes old-time authenticity. The rooms that I saw have been updated nicely, with beautiful linens and shades of taupe and beige. I wouldn't have minded a bit more sense of place versus a look you could find at a Four Seasons in Toronto, but that's just me.
The Del, as folks call it, has a wonderful history. It was built in 1883 after the railway came west to Los Angeles and welcomed high society folks for years. They also brought in average, everyday people with a large series of tents along the sand called Tent City, a nice touch.
The hotel fluorished, hosting the kings of industry, not to mention 11 U.S. Presidents and, in 1920, the Prince of Wales. Other luminaries include Thomas Edison, L. Frank Baum and Babe Ruth. Famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was honored at The Del in 1927 after his successful trans-Atlantic flight, according to the hotel website.
"At this lavish banquet, a replica of Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" circled the enormous Crown Room ceiling. In 1958, The Del was the backdrop for the comedy classic "Some Like It Hot," starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The resort has also seen a steady stream of celebrity visitors - from Charlie Chaplin and Humphrey Bogart to Brad Pitt and Madonna."
The place was in something of a state of disrepair in the late 1960's but architectural fans and others stepped in and the hotel was saved from the wrecking ball. It's a wonderful reminder of another era, and a fabulous place to stay.
I didn't have a clear image of the town of Coronado, but fell in love with the nice shops and casual restaurants along Orange Ave. I had a nice meal at a second-story Italian place called Vigilucci's (try the veal). Better still was a small cafe on Orange called Cafe 1134, with a small outside seating area under the palms out front and a fun atmosphere inside, with local paintings and colourful locals. I just had a bagel but the Cortez Omelette looked yummy, with shrimp and veggies and giant slices of fresh, California avocado and fruit.
There are several surf shops in the area and lots of restaurants. If the Del Coronado is too pricey for your budget, there also are other hotels in the area, including the Villa Capri right across the street. Coronado is only five minutes from downtown San Diego by car, and there's also a passenger ferry from the downtown area if that's more your style.
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Balcony Suite (cat.11):
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