Planning to visit San Diego? Stay at the Hotel Del Coronado. I know it isn’t a bargain hotel. But if you can, it is worth the splurge.
You should at least include a trip to the Hotel Del and Coronado Island on your list of things to do when you visit San Diego.
When I started researching our trip to San Diego, my 14-year-old daughter had one request – go to a beach. I was surprised to find out that the top family beach in the United States is Coronado Beach.
I reached out to the Hotel del Coronado about their beach rentals, and they offered us a Beach Bed for the day. Unfortunately, our day on Coronado Island was windy and cool. But The Hotel Del came through and offered us a pool cabana for the day instead.
We paid for alcoholic beverages and tipped our cabana boy, but the Hotel Del gave us the pool cabana and associated amenities for free.
Hotel del Coronado History
The Hotel del Coronado, called “The Del” for short, was built in 1888 by Elisha Babcock, Hampton Story, Jr., and San Diego real estate developer Alonzo Horton. (Yes, that is the same Horton from Horton plaza in the Gaslamp District of San Diego.)
The architecture of the hotel is nothing short of stunning. For my fellow Disney fans, if the hotel looks familiar that is because the Coronado Hotel served as the inspiration for the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.
Even if you are just going to the beach, make sure to walk through the hotel lobby to see the gorgeous wood features and ornate elevator.
Coronado Hotel Fame
Throughout its history, the Coronado Hotel has hosted many celebrities including Prince Edward and Wallis Spencer, over fifteen US presidents, and stars such as Clark Gable and Mae West. However, the Hotel del Coronado’s biggest claim to fame is serving as the backdrop for the Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon movie Some Like it Hot. The hotel is also home to the ghost of Kate Morgan who died at the hotel in 1892.
A chilly, windy day was not enough to keep my determined daughter from the beach. She spent a full two hours playing in the sand and dipping her toes in the water. She even created her first sand-person.
If it had been a warm day, we would have taken advantage of the Hotel del Coronado Beach Rentals. You do NOT need to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy the Coronado Beach and rent equipment from the hotel.
There are a variety of items available to fit every budget. The Del Day Beach Beds, Luxury Lounge, and Cabanette rentals are on the Del Beach and have access to food and beverage service. Sand Chairs and Umbrellas may be taken down to the shoreline.
Sand Chairs start at $20 and an Umbrella at $25 for a full-day rental.
A Luxury Lounge is $20, and a Cabanette (clamshell shelter) is $65.
For the ultimate beach luxury, consider a Del Beach Bed for $200/day. The Del Beach Bed is a double-size futon-style “bed” with a clamshell cover. It is perfect for families with young children that may need a midday nap.
Coronado Hotel Pool Cabana
Since we visited on a cool, windy day, the Hotel Del Coronado provided us with a Pool Cabana for the day. Normally, Pool Cabanas are only available to hotel guests.
The pool cabana included an L-shaped sofa, coffee table, a mini-fridge stocked with water and sodas (included in cost) and a commemorative sand bucket filled with pretzels, chips, and other snacks (also included).
There was also a television and numerous towels.
Outside of the cabana were two lounge chairs shaded by an umbrella. The staff arranged the towels to include a pillow and lumbar support.
I stayed at the cabana to relax, read a book and nap. My husband and daughter played on the beach for a couple of hours, then returned to warm up. My daughter then spent another two hours playing in the heated pool. The staff checked on us frequently to see if we needed anything, and they even went up to the hotel bar to get a beer for my husband.
Hotel del Coronado – The Downside
If there is a downside to the Hotel del Coronado, it is this:
The Coronado Beach is immediately adjacent to the military base that trains Navy SEALs.
The good news is that you may see soldiers run down the beach in their combat boots as part of BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training. The bad news is military planes are extremely loud. You might want to bring earplugs.
Our afternoon at the Hotel Coronado turned out to be the highlight of our trip. When we return to San Diego, we plan to stay at least a few days at the resort. I hear that the restaurants are fantastic not just for the food, but for the architecture as well.