Because I just spent 3 wonderful days at the Del Coronado after no small amount of trepidation from carping reviews here, this is going to be a bit longer than my usual. And those aren't short. If you can't take the time, I'm sorry. But in a word, "the Del" is fantastic, and those who say otherwise are just wrong. I'll try to break this into categories, but trust me: This is a great place with few flaws.
We arrived on Labor Day Saturday afternoon at about 5. We didn't come earlier, because the Del advises customers, "Check In is at 4." Unlike critics who think they are too important for rules, we realized that check-in at that time makes housekeeping possible and gets staff out of the halls. So when we arrived, the Valet Parking was quick and easy, and our bags were taken by a very friendly porter, who handed the bags off to a bellman who came up to us as we checked in. Since we did as asked - after 4:00 - there was only one guest ahead of us. Regrettably, she was the Nasty Guest From That Bad Place, who thought that yelling at the Reception Clerk about the size of her room, and throwing around (non-existent) weight ("I've stayed here since I was a little girl and you owe me better!) would help. Today's lesson, gentle friends: "The abuse will stop when you kiss my posterior," really doesn't work many places. I was amazed the clerk didn't call security. My wife's manners were much better: She showed our reservation, explained it was a special weekend, and a smiling (how, I don't know!) clerk got us in immediately. And probably to a rather nicer room. "Our" bellman took over, getting us into the incredible cage elevator, to our room, where - unlike porters in most hotels - he carefully put each separate bag in the location we asked, showed us how the room "worked" (lights, air, etc.) and left. Wow. 20 minutes from the time we drove in, we were relaxing in our room at The Del.
Because it was cheaper, we stayed in "The Victorian" section. This is the "original Del" with rooms from small (see below) singles to luxurious suites. Some face the ocean, others, the street or parking lot. For those who rant about "I paid $350 for a parking lot view!", that meant that from our window, we looked out at 4 massive (100 foot high) Norfolk Pines, into the inner harbor of Coronado Bay, as we watched the marina with the passenger ferry arrive, with the blue-clad mountains in the distance, the full moon rising from them later that night. We thought it lovely, especially since it was through two lovely windows THAT OPENED TO FRESH AIR. When did you last see that? With sash-corded fully functional "lift" so you could (if you wish) smell the salt air and floral scent on the air. Drat! The ceiling fan from the ornamental (original) ceiling kept us so cool we didn't even use the new thermostat for the "as cold as you want it" air conditioning.
It gets better: We had a modest room, with a little bit of irregular shaping, which we loved; if you want a room as nice (and no nicer) than every other room in a hotel, I suggest you go to Motel 6. But I spent 20 minutes, just for the hell of it, looking for a blemish. The paint on the woodwork looked as if it was done last week, with nary a chip or bad edge, even though much of the ornamental millwork was obviously original (1900 era) with small dents. A solid wood door? Absolutely. Elegant modern wallpaper without even a slight curl? Yes. Stylish furniture - a desk, a cabinet with a refrigerator, a flat screen TV, a tray with a new coffeemaker and (gasp!) Starbucks, not "Old Dustbucket," coffee and free Evian. A comfy chair. A small closet with a safe. And, most of all, a gloriously comfortable queen bed with what seemed like hundreds of pillows and truly elegant sheeting. Was there a lot of foot room after that? No; but we knew we were staying in a room that was unique and shaped like no other in the building, we were charmed. (And since many people leave hall doors open for breeze, we say many other rooms on our floor, some smaller, some larger, some suites. All charming and very functional.)
The bathroom was delightful, too: New-looking Del robes hung from the (solid wood) door, and the motion detector turned the light on as we entered. A sink, with adequate room for our toiletries (and a shelf below for the rest) was of marble and a good quality faucet set. The toilet did what it should, and the shower/bath was not only comfortable, but with an adjustable shower head with incredible pressure (and plenty of hot water).
Did I mention there wasn't a bit of water damage? No mold? No dirty grout? That the bathroom, like the entire room, was CLEAN? Drat. What could be better? The bathroom, like the bedroom, was immaculate. What can be better?
Well, leaving and coming back. As requested (you have to, but it's free), our bed was turned down, a gentle card with a placid thought (one day from the Dalai Lama) covered with a few lovely (and perfect) shells from the beach, with the lights dimmed. And a special greeting from Reception for our special day. This was a room to enjoy. We went to bed happy, and awakened happier.
The Common Areas
Despite the comfort of sitting and feeling the breeze in our room, we left. Usually we took the elevator, because it is one of the few in America that remains as an "open cage" manual elevator, with operators who seem like they were there when the Del opened 100 years ago! Gentle, kind, we loved them. But we also used the elegant wood stairs past the incredibly beautiful second floor, with its near-total wood paneling, ceiling and rails. I couldn't find a smudge, and by now I was looking. Down to the comfortable open lobby, with the adjoining "library" to relax in. Out from there into the open courtyard, which was like a lovely cloister in white wood, green grass and flowers. By now, I'm looking for any kind of maintenance defect, and the whole drat place - all wood - is perfectly painted. Out to the front, where we toured the grounds, seeking the Bar and the main restaurants on the way, all of which were inviting.
And yeah, the line at the ladies' room.
That's a bum rap, too: I asked my wife, later that day, "I counted five other ladies rooms within a 2 minute walk, three on the same level. Why didn't people use them?" It's not rocket science, folks: You ask any of the really nice staff, and they point you to several. Nor is it fair to make the Del sound insensitive: The ladies room by the restaurants is also at the main beach entrance, where nonguests as well as guests come in; this place isn't a stadium, dudes and dudettes. Just ask and you'll find what you need.
Drat but this is a fine pool. No, there's no seagull stuff in it. A few birds fly overhead (this IS the beach, you know), but the pool is clear, clean and happy. Lots of families play, and every time we went (and we sort of lived there!) we just asked people, "Is someone sitting in these chairs" and in almost every case the chairs we sought were available. Staff were enthusiastic, happy and willing to help (there and, in truth, everywhere...I didn't see one "grump," not even the guy who constantly went around the pool and beach emptying trash. Towels were plentiful, there were activities for kids and teens, and the music of the live cover band - incredible top quality for four hour performances! - was loud enough to enjoy and not so loud to prevent talking.
I was amazed. In three days, I didn't see a piece of litter at this place. Nothing broken. No "yellow tape" keeping you out. Manicured grass, lovely flowers, perfect landscaping. And yet I never saw anyone working. That's planning. And despite the different eras of growth of the Del since the turn of the (20th) Century, everything "matched" and fit in.
I can't tell you what the restaurants are like, other than the light supper we had on the sundeck (which was tasty and reasonable), but I'll say this: There is no breakfast/brunch buffet in western America (say, west of the Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island) to match the Del on Sunday. Service was impeccable but not obtrusive; the meats and seafood consistently hot, beautifully prepared and served, and the pastries and desserts....well, here's how good they are: I told our server I'd like to meet the Pastry Chef, and when Daphne Higa came out, I told her I'd like to adopt her. Meant it, too. MORE FOR ME!!!!
I talked with most of the staff I saw, since they were all friendly. Each one - reception, bell staff, concierge, elevator, sales, pool, parking - was professional, gave 100%, smiled (and yeah, smiling on a day that was a holiday for the rest of us...LABOR Day), and helpful far more than required "to get by." Our first night, it appeared that the "turn down" got overlooked; when we called to Reception about it, a supervisor (!) appeared literally within 3 minutes to apologize, freshen the bed, and give us "our shells." Staff is what makes a hotel (or any business) great, it works here.
Yeah, its $40 (valet) and $30 (self). And that's the price at most large hotels now. Sorry. But if you bring a car, you pay, and you get a protected lot. And the price is the same for everyone; if the "high rollers" in the $700/night got it free, then us peasants in the other rooms would pay more. Or if it was included, the room rate would go up for everyone. Am I the only one in Trip Advisor who understands what TANSTAAFL means?
Resort Fee: This is an increasingly standard "non optional add on" for hotels like this. It's stupid, since it's really part of the room rate, but it gives the appearance of a slightly cheaper room. But unlike most places I've gone, including the WiFi as part of this price is outweighed by the incredibly good, fast, reliable WiFi I could use on my computer and phone.
Who Is The Del For?
Some reviews try to be criticy about the clientele. Well, I'm sorry, folks: This is an old "destination" hotel, like the Grand (Mackinac), Don Pedro (Tampa), The Breakers (Palm Beach), Greenbrier and The Homestead. It's not a remote "rock star" hotel hideaway. Families come here, and have an incredible time with pools (at least 5), kids' activities, beaches and roaming. Couples (like us) come and have a wonderful time watching sunsets, having a glass of wine on the sun deck, holding hands and strolling past The Dragon Tree into the Vista Patio. Business people have innumerable meetings here (the Crown Room and the Ballroom are huge for such things, with a bunch of smaller rooms, too.) If you want nightlife, San Diego's Gas Lamp Quarter is 15 minutes away; Coronado Village is quirky and fun (including the SEALS and fighter jocks from NAS Coronado), and the three-piece on the deck is great to sit by on the couches and small fires. If you want a kid-hostile place, go elsewhere. If you want a sterile lobby, go to Holiday Inn. But this place is FUN.
The Bad Stuff.
This part's not long, although I tried to see what I could find: Our bathroom was mildly musty, since it lacks a fan. (Because the ceilings and walls are plaster, it would be hard to put one in, I think.) That was solved by opening the door, which, due to our ceiling fan and open windows, meant Presto! No mustiness. The Spa seemed expensive, so we ignored it, and the small pool it has for "quiet times" fronts on the main promenade, so it's not that quiet (but it is pretty!). And - management reading this please take note - I could tell that the paint job was several months old, since the water pipes that were overhead along the inner courtyard hallway on the 4th Floor (around the corner and outside) hadn't been wiped down in several months and had too much "Southern California Black Air" on them. Management might also note that a few housekeeping cars and laundry wagons seem to stay in the halls longer than they need to, and might be better in closets or service hallways. What else? The men’s' room by the pool was a bit messy one day. My key didn't work once and had to be exchanged. That's about it, unless you include Daphne declining adoption, and the screeching lady at Reception.
Ignore the heathens; save your nickels and dimes (it takes a while, yeah) and go to The Del. Yeah, it's this good. Really.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The legendary Hotel del Coronado is located on 28 oceanfront acres on Coronado Island. Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, The Del continues to maintain its rich history while also offering contemporary conveniences such as unique beachfront dining, an award-winning spa, upscale shopping, recreational activities and the luxurious cottages and villas at Beach Village. The hotel's spectacular setting, impeccable service and award-winning cuisine also makes it the perfect setting for a fairytale wedding. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Resort Del Coronado
- Del Coronado