The Hotel Del Coronado, located in Coronado, California, is one of the most iconic resort hotels in the world. Constructed in the late 1800s, The Del (as it’s known by the locals) has a rich history that played an essential role in making Coronado the resort city it is today. Even now, 131 years later, the Hotel Del is a must visit when you’re in southern California, whether you're into history, architecture, great dining, looking for wedding locations, or trying to find ghosts.
Featured Image from www.hoteldel.com of the Hotel del Coronado after construction was completed in 1888
Back in 1885, two partners, Elisha Babock and Hampton Story, envisioned a resort that would be built on the beach. The hotel itself is designed in Victorian American Queen Anne architectural style. Designed by James and Merrit Reid of architectural firm Reid & Reid, the building is laid out around a central courtyard with projections at the southern and eastern corners. One of the most recognizable features of the hotel is the exterior, which is painted white, with red roofing and accents - including it’s single red-roofed turret. Construction began in 1887 and a year later the first guests had arrived and the hotel had officially opened (1).
Featured Image from www.hoteldel.com of the Crown Room, view with crown
The Crown Room
The Crown Room was considered an architectural achievement spanning 160 feet by 60 feet without any pillars to interrupt the view. Many notable events have been held in the Crown Room, including banquets and celebrations for notable guests such as England's Prince of Wales and Chaarles Lindbergh. Today, the Hotel Del’s famous Sunday Brunch is still held in the Crown Room (2).
Featured Image from www.hoteldel.com of the missing Venus Rising from the Sea fountain in the courtyard garden of the Hotel del Coronado
The Courtyard Garden
The Hotel del Coronado’s courtyard garden was a major attractor for the resort hotel. Almonds, figs, loquats, limes, olives, bananas, guavas, lemons, oranges,
pomegranates, and other tropical plants and flowers were planted, according to the original plans. When the hotel originally opened, at the center of the courtyard was the fountain, “Venus Rising from the Sea.” This fountain is now one of the many mysteries of the Del, as it disappeared at some point around 1909. Today, in the absence of the fountain, the garden courtyard hosts ceremonies, cocktail receptions, and dining for guests and wedding parties (3).
Featured Image from www.hoteldel.com of the Hotel del Coronado view from the water
The Coronado Beach
The beach plays a major role in the type of experience that the Hotel Del Coronado provides its guests. Originally located near the water’s edge, there is now several hundred yards of beach between the building and the ocean. This space is utilized by hotel guests and tourists, giving the feeling that the beach is part of the hotel - which it is. This is a major attraction for the wealthy guests from all over the world that have been visiting the Hotel Del Coronado since it opened (4).
Featured Image from www.hoteldel.com: President Taft and group at the Hotel del Coronado
United States Presidents
Over the years, the Hotel del Coronado has been host to many notable presidential guests. In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison visited the resort and had breakfast at the Del. Harrison would be the first, but not last president to visit. Presidents’ Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and more recently Barack Obama have all visited, or stayed, at the Hotel Del Coronado (5).
Featured Image from www.hoteldel.com: Marilyn Monroe in front of the Hotel del Coronado
The Del’s Hollywood Connections
The Hotel del Coronado has been in connection with Hollywood since the early 1900s. The Hotel has been the location for many movies throughout the years, most notably was Some Like It Hot (1959) which starred Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. It is said that more celebrities of the arts, entertainment, sports, and political worlds have come to visit the Hotel del Coronado than any other resort hotel in North America. 6 Recent celebrities who have visited the hotel include Brad Pitt, Seth Rogen, Eva Mendes, Oprah Winfrey, and Julia-Louis-Dreyfus -and many more (7). During the annual Comic Con Convention in downtown San Diego, panelists are known to to stay at the Hotel Del during their time in the city.
Featured Image from www.hoteldel.com: Kate Morgan Portrait
The Hauntings of the Hotel del Coronado
If you are interested in the paranormal side to life, the Hotel del Coronado has
something for you as well. In November 1892, Kate Morgan checked into the hotel alone under the name ‘Lottie A Bernard’ from Detroit. Five days later, she was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head on the hotel exterior staircase leading to the beach. Coroners determined her wounds to be self-inflicted, though many are skeptical of this conclusion. Kate’s spirit can still be seen today, as she seems to be staying in her former guest room. She has been deemed a relatively harmless ghost, with reports from guests ranging changes in temperature, things turning on by themself, items moving on their own and unexplained footsteps and voices (8). If you want to stay in her room, request room 3327.
Featured Image from www.hoteldel.com: Wedding at the Hotel Del Coronado
Weddings at the Hotel Del
The Hotel del Coronado’s iconic beach location makes it a popular wedding destination. The Del hosts weddings both on the beach and in their Ballroom or Crown Room, giving couples options for what kind of vibe they want their special day to look like. Wedding parties have many things to do while they stay at the Del, including beach and water activities, spa packages, and arts and craft activities (9). The hotel boasts many dining options, a pool with cabanas, and bars, and shopping for guests to explore.
Skating by the Sea
During the holiday season, the Hotel del Coronado hosts Skating by the Sea: San
Diego’s only beachfront ice skating rink. Not only does the Del’s iconic exterior, adorned with thousands of white lights and holiday music drifting through the air, provide a magical backdrop for skaters, but you also have the opportunity to skate next to the ocean. Since living in San Diego, this is one of the most fun and memorable Christmas-time experiences I’ve ever had.
1. Mallory Mahon, “The Coast of Coronado: The Hotel Del” (essay, UC Santa Cruz, 2020)
3. Mallory Mahon, “The Coast of Coronado: The Hotel Del” (essay, UC Santa Cruz, 2020)
4. Mallory Mahon, “The Coast of Coronado: The Hotel Del” (essay, UC Santa Cruz, 2020)