Is the Hotel Del Coronado worth the cost?

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Staying at the Hotel Del Coronado has been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember, so it goes without saying that this particular review is one that I’ve been itching to make for a very long time. It feels really great to be writing this, and I totally feel like I am a true San Diegian now having had the experience of overnighting at the Del.

For those of you not familiar with this hotel (and San Diego in general), the Hotel Del Coronado is arguably the top hotel in the city. Located on the beautiful western shores of Coronado Island overlooking Point Loma and the Pacific Ocean, this hotel is rich in history, service, and (of course) an amazing Southern California vibe. If you’ve ever seen a San Diego travel poster or tourist website, you’ve likely seen pictures of the Hotel Del Coronado. It’s a landmark of this city, and a beautiful one at that.

Hotel Del Coronado sign

Welcome to the Hotel Del Coronado! Hope you brought lots of cash…

It’s also ridiculously expensive. This one-night stay was actually a birthday gift to my wife, who has also been dreaming of staying here for quite some time. Her birthday was back in March, but I couldn’t find a one-night rate for the month of March and all throughout the summer for less than $600 per night. I may be known to spend a bit freely when it comes to travel, but paying over $600 a night for a hotel room is far beyond my personal comfort zone. I should point out that it is possible to redeem Hilton Honors points here at the Del (as it’s part of the Curio Collection), but with only 7000 points in my account at the time, that wasn’t even close to cutting it. Our only option was to shell out cash like normal people.

Hotel Del Coronado entrance

This is what you see as you arrive – you brought lots of cash, right? Just checking.

Hotel Del Coronado main entrance

Walking through the main entrance. I really mean it – now would be a good time to double check all your pockets for any loose cash, because you’re going to need all you can get your hands on once you step through these doors!

We ended up having to wait until the summer season was over in order to get a room under $500 per night. Even then, we still paid $490 for our room on a Saturday night in the middle of September, which was still pushing it in terms of what I’m comfortable paying out of my own pocket for a hotel room. But hey – this was a special occasion, so we tried not to think about how much it cost. At least I was earning valuable Hilton Honors points with this stay…

We arrived at roughly 4 PM, along with pretty much everyone else who was checking in that night. The line was long, but at least it was moving quickly and we didn’t have to wait for more than 15 minutes. Besides, it was fun to just stand there in the lobby and people-watch. Sometimes I forget that I live in a tourist city, and that I’m lucky to live here full-time. I really do love San Diego!

Hotel Del Coronado check in

The line to check in at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon. At least it moved quickly!

Hotel Del Coronado lobby

The lobby of this place is really impressive – imagine old west and Victorian styles combined, and this is the result.

Hotel Del Coronado Sunday brunch

By the way, I wasn’t kidding about needing cash here at the Del. This is Sunday morning brunch in the main ballroom. Cost: $96 per person.

The Hotel Del Coronado is broken up into several sections. We couldn’t afford a room in the main building, but the only thing in our price range was in an adjacent building called Ocean Towers. This building is set up like a regular high-rise hotel, which unfortunately lacks any of the special flair and charm of the rest of this place. I’m not totally sure, but it looks like they added it sometime in the 50s or 60s in order to add more rooms to the overall property. At least it wasn’t far from the main building though – just a three minute walk out the front door to the right towards the beach.

Hotel Del Coronado Ocean Towers

We didn’t bring enough cash to stay in the main building, so we were relegated to the Ocean Towers.

Hotel Del Coronado Ocean Towers

The Ocean Towers building in its entirety. Think of it as the ghetto of the Hotel Del Coronado.

Hotel Del Coronado Ocean Towers hallway

Guest room hallway of the Towers.

To be honest, the feeling of disappointment hit both my wife and I at exactly the same time as soon as we walked through the door of our room. This was not what we were expecting. Sure, we had a somewhat decent view of the beach, and everything was clean, but the decor was very low end and it actually felt like a budget motel room. A budget motel room that we paid nearly $500 for.

Hotel Del Coronado room

Okay. We were expecting something a bit more luxurious than this.

Hotel Del Coronado Ocean Towers Room

Disappointment city.

Hotel Del Coronado furniture

It’s important to note that I wouldn’t be so critical of this room if it weren’t for the fact that we paid so much for it. It was clean and nice, but not $500 clean and nice.

Hotel Del Coronado casual style

The style in here is very casual, which is fitting since this property is located right on the beach.

Hotel Del Coronado room decor

I quite liked the color scheme as well, which helped to dull the pain of spending so much for this room.

Hotel Del Coronado throw pillows

Beachy vibe in here for sure.

Hotel Del Coronado tv

This off-center TV bugged the hell out of me – it was so hard to resist the urge to center it on that cabinet!

Hotel Del Coronado room

Looking towards the entrance from inside the room.

Hotel Del Coronado room balcony

The balcony, which offered a glimpse of the beach in the distance.

View from room hotel Del Coronado

This is the view. Not too shabby!

Hotel Del Coronado room view

This is the view looking the other way. Not as impressive, but still interesting for sure.

Hotel Del Coronado logo

The Hotel Del Coronado logo on the patio glass.

Hotel Del Coronado in room refrigerator

Convenient refrigerator located just below the TV.

Hotel Del Coronado room closet

A place to put your stuff.

Hotel Del Coronado bathroom

The bathroom was actually quite nice – a lot nicer than the rest of the room actually.

Hotel Del Coronado bathroom vanity

Dual sinks – something every married couple can appreciate.

Hotel Del Coronado bathroom design

Another view (looking towards the door).

Hotel Del Coronado shower and tub

Considering this property is right on the beach, I wonder how much sand they have to dig out of the plumbing here on a regular basis?

Hotel Del Coronado Ocean Towers building floor plan

Floor plan of the Ocean Towers building.

Making our room slightly even more disappointing was the fact that the walls are very thin and the people in the next room were watching college football at a very loud volume for the entirety of our stay. We heard everything. We also heard them having sex the next morning (which lasted all of 2 minutes, but sounded intense). Classy! Anyway, it seemed like they were enjoying thier vacation immensely so who am I to complain?

Hotel Del Coronado grounds

I don’t want to sound too bitter about this experience though, because we did have a really good time and the grounds of the property are absolutely stunning.

Hotel Del Coronado San Diego

From certain views it feels as if you’ve taken a step back in time to the early 1900’s, and when mixed with a beautiful San Diego sunset, it’s downright magical.

San Diego sunset hotel Del Coronado

How perfect is this?

Hotel Del Coronado nightlife

Hotel Del Coronado nightlife.

In conclusion, I’m going to have to say that this one night stay at the hotel Del Coronado did not quite live up to my expectations. The problem was squarely on the room, and not the property itself. As a matter fact, we had a very nice time that evening just strolling the grounds and just enjoying the moment of being there. But it was a different story back in the room – I’ve stayed in better rooms which cost $85 per night, so I had a really hard time digesting the fact that we paid $500 for this.

That being said, if you’re not from San Diego and aren’t used to seeing the beach every day like we are as locals, you are likely to have a different opinion of the rooms in the Ocean Towers. The location is pretty much perfect, which is probably the best thing you could ask for if you’re a tourist coming to visit the city for a few days. San Diego and Coronado is amazingly beautiful, but the problem is that I’m so used to seeing it that all I could really focus on was the lackluster room.

Someday I want to cash in a ton of Hilton Honors points and book a night in the main building where the rooms are (supposedly) magnificent. An experience like that would surely be completely different than the one we had, and I am 100% confident that I would have nothing but good things to say about it. Unfortunately, there’s no way in hell that I would be willing to pay for something like that out of my own pocket, so it’s going to have to wait until I can amass an obscene amount of points to do so.

I guess that means the Hotel Del Coronado still on my bucket list…

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