A Very Detailed Guide to Hotel Del Coronado
I talk to readers about this hotel daily, book in personally, and even got married here
Readers book into Hotel Del Coronado through me more than any other hotel in San Diego. There are reasons for this including that it’s our most excellent full-service beachfront resort and one of the most historic buildings in California. Built in 1888, it’s been the top choice of U.S. presidents, dignitaries, and Hollywood elite for 130 years now.
I’ve stayed at the resort multiple times and got married there. There are things you need to know to make sure it’s a good fit for your vacation, and I’m going to lay them all out for you here. It’s a lot of detail (also based on reader feedback on various rooms), but I promise it will help you plan.
Table of Contents
- The Most Popular San Diego Beachfront Hotel
- How to Choose a Room at Hotel Del Coronado
- Rooms for Larger Families
- Hotel Del Coronado Activities
- Hotel Del Coronado Dining
- Full-Service Spa and Salon
- Important Insight
- Getting to Hotel Del Coronado
- How to Book Hotel Del Coronado
The Most Popular San Diego Beachfront Hotel
Here’s the gist of what you need to know.
Hotel Del Coronado Amenities
- 700+ Rooms and suites
- Full-service spa
- Del Beach rentals with seasonal food and drink service
- Three pools: family pool, an adults-only pool and spa pool
- One of San Diego’s most lavish Sunday brunches
- Multiple restaurants and shops
- A haunted room (yes, really)
- Daily supervised kids’ activities from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
- More holiday activities than we can mention in a bullet point list including a beachfront ice skating rink
- Onsite Hertz car rental desk
- Three buildings to choose from (more on this below)
- Beach Village at Del, an exclusive private enclave of cottages and suites with additional VIP amenities
Good to Know
- San Diego’s best full-service, beachfront resort
- Four-star Curio Collection by Hilton property (do not expect five-star service or amenities)
- Rooms have been refreshed but clients report minor issues
- You will read mixed reviews (room issues and service issues)
- A $200-million renovation was just announced (details below)
- Prices usually increase closer to the date during peak season (book sooner rather than later)
- People who aren’t staying in the hotel visit its shops and restaurants as well as use the beach in front which means common areas are always busy
- $35/night resort fee and $50/night valet parking only starting on October 24
- It’s one of only two Green Seal certified hotels in San Diego
- You can book in through me with Virtuoso benefits (more below)
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. However, many people request one building or the other, and the hotel does its best to accommodate (no guarantees).
Victorian or Tower/Cabana?
You’ll need to decide which building type 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 now often prices slightly higher than Tower/Cabana because most guests tend to prefer it. It’s the resort’s oldest and most historic building. Victorian rooms have the hallmarks of a landmark hotel like creaky, uneven floors and smaller bathrooms than those in the Tower/Cabana category.
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 Victorian King Junior Suite which had a layout in reverse of what is pictured above (living room by the view).
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 with 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, but they are not guaranteed.
These rooms are closest to the Main Pool and steps from the beach which makes this building an excellent location for families and those who want to be close to both.
This can be a busy area, 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 (can request but 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 Cabanas 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.
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 Parial 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 Double Queen Junior Suite which can sleep six people across two queen beds and a queen sofa sleeper. This 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 parents who prefer a king bed, I would recommend the Victorian King Junior Suite which has a king bed and a queen sofa sleeper. These rooms are in high demand so it is best to book them ASAP.
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 but you can take a smaller chair 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. These classes require an additional fee. The gym is complimentary, open 24 hours, and offers private personal training.
The main pool is heated to 70 degrees year-round. In addition to complimentary lounge chair sand 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.
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 and 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 4-12. 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 even 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.
The resort’s signature restaurant, 1500 Ocean, is worth a reservation. I recently attended a preview dinner where I sampled the new menu items pictured above by Master Chef Patrick Ponsaty with some local food writers. Everyone was impressed (I read their social media musings and reviews) and everything we tasted was excellent. The Coastal Cuisine menu is seasonal so items on it can change.
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.
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.
For restaurants within walking distance or a short drive of USD 100Del 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. 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 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 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 it. 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 or part of your vacation at the hotel’s Hertz desk (remember there’s usually a one-way drop fee should you rent at the hotel and drop at the airport or vice versa).
The sights in North County San Diego are far enough to usually make a rental car worthwhile and remember you’ll avoid the parking fees 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 Hilton.com and the Virtuoso. The latter 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 (2018):
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (room upgrades are not possible in Beach Village)
- Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
- $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 prive 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.
Get the Virtuoso Rate*
*If on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Full Site” to access rates and booking.
If you are eligible for AAA, Military or Hilton HHonors discounted rates that outweigh Virtuoso benefits (rare), it’s best to book through Hilton.com. Hilton also now offers a Semi Flex Hilton Honors rate that makes the savings on higher-priced rooms more beneficial than the Virtuoso rate. I’d check both sites.