In early May, I decided it was time to go “bi-coastal” and leave my home in the sunshine state for a much needed Spring Break. I set off for San Diego in search of cooler temps, bay breezes, captivating coastlines and unforgettable finds. My three day weekend itinerary covered the gamut from boat tours to tastings in San Diego’s Wine Country.

All my senses were awakened by San Diego’s downtown electric, effervescent aura.

The energy was contagious. This was not a sleepy southern coastal town where senior citizens outnumber the palm trees.

I stayed in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, well known as the epicenter of the city, bubbling with action 24/7.

The entire Gaslamp Quarter, covering roughly a 16 block area, is pedestrian friendly. There is really no need for a car unless you are planning to do a few day trips outside of the city. If so, keep in mind Uber and Lyft are easy and convenient alternatives. So much so, the San Diego airport now has a dedicated “App” lane.

I discovered Kimpton’s Hotel Solamar offers one of the best vantage points for playful distraction. Knowing the Kimpton reputation first hand, I had no hesitation locking in a reservation for my weekend escape.

Hotel Solamar, located on 6th Street in the San Diego’s East Village, is right smack in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.

Combine LOCATION with superior service and amenities and you have a winning property.

Hotel Solamar sets the tone with guests upon arrival with a welcoming mixer featuring complimentary beer, wine and appetizers.

The recent design renovation, completed in March 2016, has raised the bar and rocked the quarter elevating the Hotel Solamar to a Southern California destination in its own right.

The stylish boutique property is a top pick for discerning travelers who love all things hip and trendy, but don’t want to sacrifice service or convenience.

Step out Hotel Solamar’s front entry, and you will find San Diego’s best mix of dining and nightlife. Baseball fans and business professionals will delight in knowing that Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, and the San Diego Convention Center are within a ten minute walk.

The proximity to Seaport Village, the waterfront and attractions adds to Hotel Solamar’s appeal, but perhaps it is LOUNGEsix, a rooftop bar aka party central, that makes the hotel a Gaslamp Quarter standout…especially on the weekends.

(note: if you are light sleeper, be sure to request an interior room).

Favorite perk: A Complimentary Sunday Morning Yoga Class. The Hotel Solamar makes it easy to rise and shine; the use of a yoga mat is included in every stay. And, I love the fact that all Kimpton Hotels are pet friendly; fido can opt to tag along and join in the morning ritual and lead the group in the perfect downward dog.

After a long day of sightseeing, you will find cozy comfort in your guest room. The entire property has found new life with the guidance of an award-winning California design team, Paletteur. The final contemporary design emerged from a marriage of old and new taking strong inspiration from the region’s historic Spanish mission architecture and the buildings of iconic Balboa Park.

The hotel property stays true to Southern California style but with an eclectic modern twist. Elements include woven vinyl headboards, unique lighting and distinctive furniture pieces. Wall and trim accents showcase rich textures and stylistic geometric patterns.

The dominant palette is a sophisticated yet playful blend- a bouquet of California coastal color with shades of gold, burnt orange-reds, deep purples, grey-blues and fuchsia. Mirrors of varied sizes dress the walls and disperse natural light creating an open spacious atmosphere; guest room bathrooms embrace the region’s rich heritage and local culture with unique Mexican tile inspired wall coverings and surfboard inspired vanity mirrors.

The right touch: Kick up your feet and relax on the guest room sofa; Hotel Solamar makes even a standard room feel like a mini-suite.

The hotel website says it best:

Guests relish the suite-like arrangement of rooms that offer a sumptuous settee on which to lounge, an oversized workspace in which to work and top-notch amenities to help you chill out after taking in the city’s exquisite architecture and inspirational culture.

Hotel Solamar lives up to its distinction as a hip urban oasis with a relaxed vibe. The rest is up to you. Soak in San Diego at your own speed, enjoy the awesome playground just outside your door and savor every moment of Southern California hospitality.

Address: 435 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (15 minutes to/from airport)

Rooms: 235 Rooms (16 Suites)

Rates: Seasonal. $199-$600

Summer Sizzle Promotion (May 31- August 31, 2016):

The “Rediscover Your Inspiration” Package – includes standard King or Queen room, a bottle of wine upon arrival, a private cooking lesson for two, and a 3-course Chef Mercy Dinner. Rates start at $469.

For reservations and more information on packages and promotions, visit the Hotel Solamar website or call 877- 230-0300

Highlights and Amenities:

  • Flat Screen Television
  • Desk
  • Sofa Settee
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Hair Dryer
  • Valet Laundry
  • Safe
  • Gilchrist & Soames Bath Amenities
  • Pet-Friendly with No Weight Restrictions
  • Mini Bar with Organic Options
  • Complimentary Newspaper
  • Daily Resort Fee (*$15) includes WiFi, Fitness Center and Business Services.
  • Outdoor Rooftop Pool & Lounge
  • 14,000 square feet of Flex Meeting Space
  • Valet Parking ( $47 per night)
  • JSIX Restaurant (American Farm-to-Table Cuisine)

*Fee waived for Kimpton Karma Reward Members

Best Bets & Favorite Finds:

Little Italy: Make it a point to get lost in this larger than life neighborhood. El Camino, a funky mexican-themed menagerie, is the perfect spot for people watching and plane sightings. With the San Diego Airport a close neighbor, the roar of engines above is the norm. For tourists, each hovering jumbo jet is a thrilling spectacle…for residents, the planes are a noisy nuisance. Scheduled flight patterns bring the planes so very very close that most will swear, especially after a few El Camino margaritas, they have spotted passengers waving from their seats.

Hornblower Cruises:  Hornblower’s boat tours nicely combine sightseeing and wildlife watching on the water in a narrated family-friendly excursion. Exploring the bay and getting closeup views of the Navy base and landmarks will impress, but it will be San Diego’s resident marine life – sea lions, dolphins and whales -that are sure to capture your heart. Harbor Cruises (1 or 2 hours) offered 6 times daily.

Balboa Park: San Diego’s top recreation center and tourist attraction. Balboa Park is a true marvel, a successful fusion of art,culture and nature. The park, dating back to the late 1800s, is now home to the San Diego Zoo, 15 museums, performing arts/theater groups and an extensive network of gardens, athletic fields, dog parks and walking trails.

Puesto Restaurant (Seaport Headquarters Shopping Square): A lively bar/restaurant with a second location in La Jolla. Voted the Best Mexican Street Food Menu in San Diego. All natural meats, sustainable seafood and local organic greens. Snag a table on the brick outdoor patio for happy hour drink and food specials. Top Happy Hour Menu pick: The “Mix & Match” 3 Taco plate.

Old Town Trolley & Seal Tours: The absolute best way to explore San Diego. On and off privileges give visitors the freedom to discover top attractions from Balboa Park to Coronado Island at their leisure.

San Diego Beer & Wine Tours/La Jolla Wine Tours:  No designated driver needed. Travel and taste in style and comfort – by train, by bike, and by chauffeured van. Visit some of the oldest and best local wineries and celebrated craft breweries in the region. Daily Tours. Open Year Round. Check website for schedule. Custom private group tours available. Diva Favorite: The Winery Train Tour.

Vin de Syrah Wine Bar: An “Alice in Wonderland” Adventure. Eclectic lounge club featuring artistic quasi-quirky décor and design accents like botanical chandeliers, hanging wine vines and plush private booths. Discreet and romantic attitude and ambiance. Wine, beer, craft cocktails, small bites and desserts.

Nature’s Spa by Jurlique in the Hotel Palomar – sister Kimpton Hotel property on 5th Avenue: The spa has seven luxe treatment rooms and a couples suite with private tub. Recommendation: Divas opt for Nature Spa’s signature treatment featuring a Jurlique essential oil steam shower followed by full body aromatherapy massage and mini-facial.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: One museum with 2 locations – downtown San Diego and La Jolla. Showcasing art collections and special exhibitions since 1950. At MCASD Downtown, visitors experience contemporary art in an intimate historic setting housed in the former Santa Fe Depot baggage building.

Jsix Restaurant/Hotel Solamar: A neighborhood favorite known for its farm-to-table concept and craft cocktails. Great spot for a hearty and healthy breakfast. A tall stack of yummy banana pancakes hits the spot after a night on the town. Great eats and easy access. Jsix is adjacent to the hotel on the first level so no morning decision-making drama or makeup needed. Daily Specials. Save with the Sunday Supper Special : 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and a bottle of house wine for only $80.

Photos Courtesy of Hotel Solamar & S. Gaspers