The Most Popular San Diego Beachfront Hotel
When someone emails in to say that they’d like to stay on the beach in a nice resort, Hotel Del Coronado is the only answer in San Diego.
How to Choose a Room at Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado offers a variety of rooms and suites across three buildings: Victorian Building, California Cabanas, and Ocean Towers.
Take a second to view the location of these buildings on the map below, outlined in red.
Tower/Cabana is one room category. Many people request California Cabanas or Ocean Towers specifically, and the hotel does its best to accommodate (no guarantees).
Victorian or Tower/Cabana?
You’ll need to decide which building to choose, especially if staying in a room versus a suite.
There is less of a need to think about building type when it comes to selecting a suite. Suites are located either in the Victorian or Ocean Tower buildings. Size, bed type, and price influence how people choose suites more than building location.
The Victorian Building prices slightly higher than Tower/Cabana because most guests prefer it. It’s the resort’s oldest and most historic building. Victorian rooms have the hallmarks of a historic hotel like creaky, uneven floors and smaller bathrooms.
This charm though is why people choose the Victorian Building as no two rooms are exactly alike. I quite enjoyed a recent stay in an Ocean View King Victorian Studio Suite – King which had a layout in reverse of what is pictured above (the living room was by the window).
Victorian Building Ocean View rooms and suites overlook the resort out to the ocean.
I like sitting on the patio and sort of getting lost in the buzz of the resort. If you want more ocean in your view, the higher floors of the Ocean Towers building will have this. You can see the Ocean Towers off in the distance toward the middle of the above photo. The multi-story building has an orange roof and black-looking windows (due to reflection and closed curtains). It’s closer to the beach.
Some Victorian Building rooms have balconies or terraces, you are not guaranteed to have one in your room. If a balcony is important to you, request it at time of booking.
These rooms are closest to the Main Pool and steps from the beach. This building is an excellent location for families and those who want to be close to both the beach and pool.
California Cabanas border busy public areas, but some people think this is a fair trade-off especially if they have young kids who don’t want to walk very far. Rooms have balconies or terraces. I personally like the ground level Ocean View Cabana rooms because they open up to a nice grassy area facing the ocean (you can request these rooms but they are not guaranteed).
This building is off to the side of the Main Pool (you can see its orange roof and curtained windows behind the California Cabana buildings in the photo above) and a bit more private. It’s closer to the adults-only pool and the beach on this end tends to be less busy. Rooms have balconies or terraces.
The main complaint I receive about this building is that it has a dated exterior. It doesn’t have the iconic red roof or historical feel that the Victorian Building has. The trade-off is that the rooms are a bit newer and the bathrooms are bigger with double sinks. You’ll also have a more fulsome ocean view as the building is closer to the water without resort facilities in front of it. Many of the resort’s suites are located on the top floors.
View Types to Choose From
Rooms and suites in all buildings come with the following views:
- Resort View
- Partial Ocean View
- Ocean View
Resort View can overlook some lovely greenery but also a wall or a parking lot. If what you see out the window is important to you, book Partial Ocean View or Ocean View.
Rooms for Larger Families
The maximum occupancy for rooms at Hotel Del Coronado is four people of any age. If your family is larger, the below is for you.
Connecting rooms: They can be requested but are not guaranteed.
Junior Suites: The Hotel Del Coronado has one of the best rooms for families with two adults and four kids. It’s the Victorian Junior Suite – Double Queen which can sleep six people across two queen beds and a queen sofa sleeper. This junior suite is also popular with families of four with kids who don’t want to share a bed.
Note that it is a Junior Suite which means that the sitting area and bedroom are in the same room with no divider between the two. For families of four with parents who prefer a king bed, I would recommend the Victorian Junior Suite – King which has a king bed and a queen sofa sleeper. These rooms are in high demand so it is best to book them as soon as possible.
Junior Suites come in resort view and ocean view options.
Suites: If you’d like a separate bedroom and living area, you need to book the Victorian Suite or higher. These larger suites can also suit families of five between a sofa bed and rollaway.
Dolphin and Octopus Suites: These small but adorable two-bedroom suites are ideal for families with young kids. The second bedroom has a set of bunk beds and themed decor, and there is a parlor in between the bedrooms.
Rollaway beds: $25/night fee
Hotel Del Coronado Activities
Plan to spend a decent amount of time at the resort because there is quite a bit to do. You’ll receive an event calendar in your room but can also check it online in advance of your stay.
Del Beach offers guests the ability to rent lounge chairs, cabanas, and cabanettes in a full-service area with a menu of sandwiches, salads, snacks, and drinks (including adult beverages). It’s a lovely way to spend a beach day. Beach rentals are offered daily, however, food and drink service seems to be seasonal.
Coronado Municipal Beach is enormous so note that if you do choose a Del Beach rental, you won’t be able to see kids playing in the water from the cabanas and cabanettes. You can take a smaller chair and umbrella to the water’s edge.
Fun Fitness Classes
Opt for morning spinning or beach yoga. Have you ever wanted to try a mermaid fitness class? Here, you can put on a tail for a surprisingly robust workout. New beach fitness classes this summer also include bootcamp, pilates, fitness walk, and meditation. These classes may require an additional fee. The gym is complimentary, open 24 hours, and offers private personal training.
The Main Pool is heated to 82 degrees year-round. In addition to complimentary lounge chairs and towels, guests may also rent luxury cabanas for up to eight people with bottle service. All guests may order poolside drinks and food from the Splash Deli currently between 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and drinks only until 6:00 p.m.
Please note the following two requirements. Guests will need to grab a new wristband daily to use the pool, and they do enforce a kids’ break policy (though I’ve been told this isn’t always the case). Kids are required to take a short pool break at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to use the restroom, rehydrate, re-apply sunscreen, grab a snack, etc. There is no lifeguard on duty.
As mentioned earlier the quiet adults-only pool is located next to the Ocean Towers and open seasonally between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
A small spa pool is available to spa guests.
Watersports, Bike Rentals, and Boat Rentals
Private surf and SUP lessons can be arranged year-round (though they can be canceled in poor weather or when the surf isn’t cooperating). Group surf lessons and surf kids’ camps are offered seasonally.
It’s also possible to rent a boogie board, surfboard, SUP board and paddle, wetsuits, kayaks and more to head out on your own for the day at Del Watersports.
Bike rentals are a must-do as Coronado is fantastic when explored by bike. The boardwalk in front of the hotel is perfect for a surrey ride. Find these rentals at PeDels in front of the Ocean Towers.
Walk off of the resort a bit to Coronado Boathouse at Glorietta Marina for speedboat, sailing, jet skiing, and other fun options.
DelVentures Kids’ Club
Kids’ clubs are hard to find at San Diego hotels, but Hotel Del Coronado offers DelVentures for kids ages 5-12. Choose an evening supervised kids’ program that runs daily between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. so that parents can enjoy a private dinner on the resort. Or, various 50-minute programming runs throughout the week. You can check the schedule online. (Note that in the event of low attendance, activities can be canceled.)
The other upshot to DelVentures is that guests who are coming only to enjoy dinner or the spa at the resort can use it, too. Reserve DelVentures online.
In summer, guests look forward to the beach bonfires with gourmet s’mores, clam bakes, beach movies, and more.
No San Diego hotel is more festive during the winter holidays than Hotel Del Coronado with its gorgeous Christmas tree, annual ornament tradition, beachside ice skating rink, and more. It’s busier in the common areas than usual during this time of year but a lot of fun. We always head down to enjoy the winter programming.
Hotel Del Coronado Dining
The hotel’s food and beverage program recently went through a revamp that has been well-received.
Sheerwater and Its Breakfast Buffet
Sheerwater offers nearly all-day dining (breakfast, lunch, dinner though closes for a few hours in the late afternoon) with a California Cuisine menu full of seafood, sandwiches, salads, and more.
I get the most questions about the breakfast buffet because Virtuoso and some other rates include breakfast for two. It’s actually really good with a wide variety of cold, hot, local, hearty, made-to-order (like omelets and eggs Benedicts), and gluten-free selections. Guests may choose from the a la carte menu, but I’d opt for the buffet.
Breakfast buffet pricing fluctuates (which is why it’s not listed online) because they do try to use seasonal and local ingredients wherever possible. At the time of my last visit, the cost was $35/adult plus tax. Kids ages 5 and under are free while older kids receive a 50% discount. The staff has told me that the price can go up to $45/adult. As the Virtuoso rate includes tax and gratuity, the value of the complimentary breakfast buffet for two adults is nearly $100.
Sunday Brunch at the Crown Room
The best Sunday brunch in San Diego also happens at the Hotel Del Coronado’s gorgeous Crown Room. If your stay overlaps a Sunday, I highly recommend that you reserve this experience in advance. We’re talking about gourmet Bloody Mary bars, made-to-order mimosas, gorgeous dessert bars, seafood towers and everything a genuinely fabulous, opulent brunch should have.
Note: If you are booking in with complimentary breakfast, the credit can’t be applied toward Sunday brunch in the Crown Room.
The new sea-to-table restaurant, Serea, opened with rave reviews and is just what the San Diego beachfront hotel needed. The emphasis is on sustainable seafood in a more relaxed, ocean view environment. Guests can take an up-close look at seafood on offer that day as it sits on ice near the raw bar. Serea is open daily for dinner and lunch on Saturdays.
The casual Sun Deck above the Main Pool and beach is an excellent place to stop in for a craft cocktail or casual meal. They have some fire pit tables here and special events like a dog-friendly happy hour on Sundays in the late afternoon. The menu is Californian with some Mexican flair like Chipotle Chicken Tacos, Watermelon Salad, Classic Burger and similar.
ENO Pizzeria and Wine Bar
I’ve always enjoyed ENO but recently they’ve gone to great lengths to perfect the pizza crust, and I can’t wait to try it again. It’s a casual neighborhood eatery with pizzas and salads and plenty of wine to pair with them. Dine near the open kitchen or on the patio near the fire pit and with an ocean view.
Other Options + Grab and Go
Sodas, water, wine, sandwiches, snacks, pastries and more can be purchased on a grab-and-go basis in several outlets around the property. I particularly like the to-go gourmet coffee bar at B&S Bakery next to Sheerwater and grabbing a cocktail at Sunset Bar (at sunset). Babcock & Story Bar is also a friendly hangout with a menu of gourmet bar nibbles. Beach + Taco Shack serves cocktails, delicious tacos and more steps from the sand. Kids will love grabbing a gigantic ice cream cone at Sundae’s.
For restaurants within walking distance or a short drive of Hotel Del Coronado, see Best Coronado Restaurants.
Full-Service Spa and Salon
I quite like going to the Hotel Del Coronado spa. They do offer a wide range of hair, nail, face and body services including a mommy and me package for nails should you want to bring the kids (otherwise treatments are for ages 14 and older).
You’ll want to arrive early to enjoy the facilities. Of note is the complimentary, uber-relaxing sound meditation journey that transcends guests into a deep state of relaxation. Ask the receptionist at check-in or enquire at the time of reservation.
Guests who book the Virtuoso rate receive a $100 spa credit that is applicable to massages and facials. I advise booking a treatment in advance of your stay as it’s a popular spa.
Hotel Del Coronado is a famous, local icon which means that people who are not staying there visit it to take photos, go to the restaurants and browse its shops. It is a busy hotel, but most people genuinely don’t mind.
It is also incredibly important to remember while its location commands premium pricing, Hotel Del Coronado is a four-star resort.
Its beachfront pricing, handful of luxe offerings, and status as a local to icon cause some people to lose sight of this. When one expects the personalized service, upscale furnishings, and attention to detail of a five-star resort this leads to disappointment. I also think that the level of service could be elevated as I, too, am subject to long hold times when calling the hotel and it sometimes takes a while for the staff to respond to guest requests.
What you can expect the hotel to deliver is the basis for a fantastic San Diego beach vacation. Book in with the correct expectations, and you will get the most out of your stay. Take advantage of the activities and amenities on offer (and schedule as many as you can in advance), enjoy the beach, relax and you will have a great time. The ability to run back and forth from your room to the beach, especially with kids, is indeed a treat.
People tell often tell me that Hotel Del Coronado is one of their favorite resorts. I personally know and work with many repeat guests, some who book in every year.
Getting to Hotel Del Coronado
Coronado is located south of the San Diego International Airport and Downtown San Diego. While there is a pedestrian ferry between downtown San Diego and Coronado, it’s easiest to drive to Coronado from the airport. Unless it’s rush hour, it should take about 15 minutes to reach the resort by car.
Follow signs from baggage claim at the airport to the taxis or rideshare waiting area if you’re taking Uber or Lyft. Signage also points to rental car shuttle waiting areas. Super Shuttle is one of the most economical ways to get there if you don’t mind sharing a van and making other stops. Otherwise, an app-based black car/SUV service we use in San Diego and worldwide called Blacklane works (same drivers as for Uber Black in San Diego but you can schedule in advance and they’ll meet you at baggage claim).
The summer Coronado shuttle which will take guests around the island including from the hotel to the ferry (otherwise a 30-minute walk), makes Hotel Del Coronado one of the easiest places to go carless in San Diego. If on a longer stay, consider using Uber for short distances or supplement by renting a car for the day. The closest rental car outlet to Hotel Del Coronado is Enterprise a few blocks away.
The sights in North County San Diego are far enough to usually make a rental car worthwhile though remember you’ll avoid the parking fees (currently valet-only at $50/night) at the hotel by not having a car. Coronado is also very easily seen by bike, which as I mentioned you can rent in front of the Hotel Del Coronado.
How to Book Hotel Del Coronado
The best ways to book, speaking from my now-extensive experience with this particular hotel, are via Virtuoso and Hilton.com. Virtuoso is only accessible via a luxury travel agent.
Through my affiliation with Cadence, I’m pleased to offer Hotel Del Coronado with Virtuoso amenities that include:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (room upgrades are not possible in Beach Village)
- Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests (approximately a $100/day value as it includes tax and gratuity)
- $100 USD Equivalent Spa Services credit (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
More often than not, the Virtuoso rate puts you ahead of what’s available online and I can handle any special requests on your behalf.
Use the button below to book online with these benefits (do not enter children into the search as it will price them as adults – I’ll add the kids on later). I’ll be notified after you submit and will reach out to answer any questions and help coordinate your stay.
*If on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Full Site” to access rates and booking. Search only with the number of kids traveling as they may be priced as adults. Mention them in the booking notes and I’ll add them in.
If you are eligible for AAA, Military or Hilton HHonors or rare discounted rates that outweigh Virtuoso benefits, it’s best to book through Hilton.com. Hilton also now offers a Semi Flex Hilton Honors rate that occasionally makes the savings on higher-priced rooms more beneficial than the Virtuoso rate. I’d check both sites.
The Hilton app provides users with the ability to check-in the day prior and set an arrival time. Normal check-in time at Hotel Del Coronado is 4 p.m., early check-in requests are subject to availability but you may drop your bags and use the facilities of your room or suite isn't ready. Please also note that the normal check-out time is 11 a.m. As it's a busy hotel, securing a late check-out is difficult.
When it comes to selecting the room on the Hilton app (which you can do the day prior), I often get asked what the best ones are. It's a hard question to answer because it depends on your preferences. I would use the map to choose with reference to where the various amenities, parking lots, gardens, and panoramic views (beach and ocean) are on the property.
If you are a Virtuoso client and eligible for an upgrade at check-in, you can check-in through the app. When you pick up keys at the front desk, they'll offer you an upgrade if it's available while still holding the room selected on the app. If you say yes to the upgrade, that's when they'll switch your room. However, if you book through Virtuoso, guest relations selects a room or suite that meet any requirements you've shared so I would not change that selection on the app in advance. They know best.
Beach Village at The Del
For those who would like the most luxurious San Diego beach vacation possible, choose Beach Village at The Del. The exclusive private enclave adjacent to Hotel Del Coronado is only accessible by Beach Village guests.
Designer suites and villas go to up to three bedrooms. Rates here typically start at $999/night plus tax and resort fee.
Beach Village has its own check-in and amenities so I've written about it separately. Learn more about why Beach Village at The Del may be a fit for you.
It may be more beneficial to book using Hilton Honors Semi-Flex rates (if available) as these rooms price higher, however, it's possible to add Virtuoso benefits to Beach Village bookings at Hilton's Best Available Rate.
The Renovation Is in Process
Hotel Del Coronado's renovation has been 18 years in the making. The first stage is to put the parking lot between the Victorian Building and Beach Village underground. I am told that this will not affect the guest experience on the main resort on reservations through summer 2019. Rest assured that my Virtuoso bookings will be placed in the best rooms possible to avoid any disruption.
Between now and October, they'll be installing a wheel-chair accessible ramp on the north side of the Victorian Building (behind the resort) and doing some utility work near Ocean Towers and east side of the main parking lot. The west entrance to Ocean Towers will be closed.
I am in direct communication with the resort a few times a week. I will continually update this post with how the renovation impacts (or doesn't impact) the guest experience. You can read more about renovation updates here.
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