When considering hotels in Southern California there are a number of beautiful and unique options. However, only one is both an National Historic Landmark and a beautiful resort that’s housed guests as varied as Thomas Edison and David Beckham since 1888: the Hotel del Coronado. From its historic past to its Silver Screen influence to the award-winning modern amenities, this hotel is celebrating 125 years of being not only a place to sleep, but a place to experience.
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In the early 20th century most Victorian-era resorts in this area couldn’t sustain business and, sadly, began dying off. The Del, however, survived by providing housing for Navy fighter pilots and attracting crowds due to its proximity to prohibition-free Mexico. But it wasn’t just the luck of global events that kept the vacancy sign off; pristine beaches, beautiful location and iconic design made the Del a common shooting location for movies and TV. Film productions — ranging from the lesser known like Maiden and Men (1910) to the absolute classic Some Like It Hot (number 14 on AFI’s list of America’s greatest movies) — filled the sands and the hotel with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, Doris Day, Joan Crawford, Walt Disney and the Marx Brothers. Today it continues to be a draw for celebrities, pro athletes, business titans and every American president since Lyndon Johnson. Not a bad résumé.
Staying at a hotel with history is great unless you’re still pumping water and lighting candles at night. Luckily the Del Coronado recently completed an $8 million renovation, bringing the hotel up to current speed (flat screens and wi-fi) while maintaining the Victorian charm that made them famous. We stayed in a beautifully updated California Cabana that overlooked the resort and had spectacular views of the ocean. If you’re the type of person that only wants sand between you and your view of the ocean, bumping up to the free-standing cottages with multiple rooms, private fire pits and panoramic windows will not disappoint.
Like most resorts, the Hotel Del Coronado offers a variety of things to do other than simply sleep in and lay out. Their spa was voted “Top 20 Hotel Spas in The World” by Travel + Leisure and offers everything from traditional Thai to a side-by-side couples massage followed by private s’mores and champagne set up at a beach bonfire. The herb garden located outside the spa is used by the award-winning restaurants 1500 Ocean and Sheerwater; the latter is where you’ll find a life-changing Smoked Angus Short Rib and Granny Smith Apple Cobbler.
The numerous awards for the beach, the service, the amenities and the food make The Del a place worth visiting even if you aren’t unpacking your bags — but if you do choose to stay there, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any reason to retrieve your car from valet.