Lately I’ve been in need of a little downtime with a few of my closest friends, so we decided to have a little staycation in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego. While initially it was supposed to be three of us living it up, it ended up being just two of us (sorry Jen. Hope you feel better!).
Now, the Gaslamp Quarter wasn’t, until the last decade or so, the kind of place you’d want to be after dark. Primarily, it was a hangout of sailors who were on leave in San Diego, and catered to the kinds of things they like to do when on leave. Yea. Not my vibe. But over the past several years, Gaslamp has established itself as the center of San Diego nightlife, especially for 20somethings. There are some fantastic restaurants and bars in the area, so it’s well worth a visit, even if you don’t fit in the core demographic.
Hotel Solamar recently underwent renovation. I don’t know what it looked like before, but the results are pretty fabulous. When you stay in a hotel that puts such attention to detail in the art and design, you feel like you’re getting a great deal at any price (prices in May 2016 are between $171 and $373).
When I stay in a hotel, I look for a few key things:
I’ve covered the visual appeal. Everything from the lobby with its cool light fixtures to the art in the rooms was well-curated. As for fun extras, we were delighted to find that there was a social hour at 5 pm where wine and local craft beer (which I’m all about) would be served in a room off of the lobby. We headed down and snagged corner seats while enjoying Pizza Port ale. The servings were free-flowing, and the quality of beverage great. I do wish there had been more than one type of appetizer to counter the free beer.
As for comfort, everything exceeded expectations. The beds were blissfully adorned with pillows and soft bedding. My friend Christina threatened to steal the desk chair, which was equally comfortable. There was even a window that louvered open halfway, giving us access to fresh air and the sounds of the crowd going wild at Petco Park, where the local baseball team, The Padres, were playing. And convenience? Well, being in the Gaslamp Quarter puts you close to anything your heart desires. So check, check, check.
We had some time to kill before our reservations at JSix back at the hotel, so we wandered a bit. Feeling remarkably unencumbered by our children, we did what any grownups would do on a night on the town: went to a candy shop! We spent a good amount of time at It’s Sugar, first snickering at the novelty toys, giant gummy bears, and Wonder Woman glasses, then getting down to business and filling a bag to the brim with sugar in every form.
We wandered through the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District (c’mon folks. “Chinatown” would have been an easier name) and looked in the windows of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. We debated sconces versus other architectural features. All in all, a typical Saturday night for us.
We returned to Hotel Solamar’s restaurant, JSix, for a light bite. The manager was kind enough to bring us a few complimentary appetizers: heavenly scallop sashimi and mussels. While I stayed away from the latter due to an extremely unpleasant allergy I won’t go into, I really enjoyed the scallops. I associate them with being chewy, but thinly sliced with an avocado sauce gave me a whole new perspective.
The cocktail list was impressive. I enjoyed an Uncle Buck, a twist on the typical mule with a bit of fruit thrown in for good measure. Christina had the…actually I forget, but she liked it so much she had two. We shared a sizeable charcuterie plate with local meats and some fantastic cheeses. The rock star was the honeycomb from Temecula. It really balanced the cheeses.
The next morning, rather than fight the crowds battling for seats at The Mission or Cafe Chloe (both excellent choices, but I prefer to go during the week when they’re less crowded), we returned to JSix for breakfast. I had some amazing chilaquiles and Christina had poached eggs with what she said was really great gluten free bread.
We returned home happy and well-rested after our girls’ night out. While there really is no place like home, Hotel Solamar is a close second.