In 48 Hours in San Diego, I mentioned that the smartest thing I did in San Diego was to stay at a centrally-located hotel near the waterfront and the Gaslamp Quarter, which made getting around to the tourist locations I wanted to see much easier. Better yet, I was hosted by The Manchester Grand Hyatt, a luxury hotel located at One Market Place, right next to the über-cute Seaport Village.
Just walk out the back door of the Hyatt (past Lael’s buffet restaurant in the Harbor Tower), and you’re there, right on the gorgeous waterfront boardwalk. Within walking distance are the Embarcadero Marine Park, the USS Midway, and the Maritime Museum, and if your legs quit on you before you can walk back, there are scads of pedicabs operating along the waterfront for $5/ride. The Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park are also an easy walk away (though maybe not in high heels). In short, I can’t think of a better location for a hotel in San Diego.
On the outside, the Grand Hyatt looks like any other high rise hotel with two towers. But on the inside. . .it’s nothing short of grand, like its name. The entrance is three stories high, with chandeliers above. Throughout the ground floor, you’ll see gorgeous woodwork and European iron panels that evoke the grandeur of 18th Century France. When I first walked into the hotel, I felt as though I’d stepped back in time.
Don’t think this tribute to the grandeur of the past doesn’t mean comfort, though. The hotel doesn’t feel “stuffy” at all, and there are lots of comfortable sitting areas, two bars, and restaurants positioned around the ground floor where you can make yourself at home, grab a bite or a beer, and people-watch for awhile. The 4th floor rooftop pool has an outstanding view of the waterfront and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows at night. It doesn’t get more down to earth than that.
I stayed in a sweet corner room (#2452) overlooking Seaport Village and the USS Midway with sweeping views of the harbor. I even had a bird’s-eye view of the fireworks one night. Actually, it’s a bit of a misnomer to call this a mere “room”. It felt more like a suite, with a separate front entryway, a sitting area with couch and coffee table, and a work area with a desk. The room was clean, the bed very comfortable. There was a mini-fridge in the room, though I didn’t really use it, and high-speed wireless Internet and a safe, which I did.
The bathroom had a very nice marble countertop, though the tub seemed awfully basic compared to its surroundings. But forget the tub anyway, because you’ll want to stand under the shower, which has the best shower head I’ve ever experienced in a hotel. Every time I stepped under the water, I felt like I was getting a fantastic massage. I could have stayed in there all day.
My second favorite thing about the room? It had a single cup coffee maker (not a Keurig) that had a disposable filter basket, which I found to be so much more hygienic than most coffeemakers I’ve seen in hotel rooms. It was easy to use, and I definitely took advantage of it.
The one thing I felt was kind of odd was that the ice machine on my floor was outside of my room, which was at the far end of the hallway, nowhere near the elevator. I found that a little peculiar, but it didn’t result in extra traffic outside my door, thankfully.
Of course, possibly the most important factor for me when I’m staying at any hotel is the solo-friendliness factor. How did the Hyatt fare? Very well. There were families and couples here, as well as convention-goers and I spotted the occasional solo here and there throughout the public areas of the property. I certainly did not feel uncomfortable here as a solo traveler. Quite the contrary. Everyone made me feel very welcome.
The service I received from the staff in this hotel was terrific–from the front desk staff who rearranged my reservation so I wouldn’t have to change rooms after the first night (I was comped one night and paid a media rate the next night), to the terrific concierge who recommended and reserved dinner for me at Royal India (my favorite meal in San Diego!), to the room service waiter who spent ten minutes or more making recommendations of things I should do while I was in town. And it wasn’t just me; I watched the staff’s interactions with other guests as well, and everyone received the same attitude and service I did.
Dining and Entertainment
I had breakfast one morning at Lael’s, a buffet offering both indoor and outdoor seating and lots of variety, including an omelet station, oatmeal, pastries, fruit, smoked salmon, the ubiquitous bacon, sausages and scrambled eggs, waffles with fresh berries, maple syrup and whipped cream, and cereal. It also provided me with some fascinating people-watching opportunities, such as the little girl (who couldn’t have been more than six) at the next table who was dining with her parents and raised her glass of milk to propose a toast: “Here’s to San Diego.” I just about died it was so adorable. Or the group of conventioneers at the table next to me who said grace before they ate. You don’t see that very often in a restaurant. (I later learned the convention was for Narcotics Anonymous, and suddenly, it made sense.)
I grabbed a quick lunch one day at Redfield’s Sports Lounge in the Hyatt, a large sports bar with plenty of TVs to catch whatever your game of choice is, and lots of polished wood accents. When I travel, I like to try the local beer, which in this case was the Stone Pale Ale, which I used to wash down my “Redfield’s Dog” a kobe beef hot dog with guacamole, pico de gallo, fries and “sports peppers” (hot peppers). I can’t say I really noticed much difference between a kobe dog and a regular dog, but those sports peppers were indeed hot. The food wasn’t anything special, but the beer was good and the bartender very friendly, and I found it to be a comfortable place to hang out.
The Top of the Hyatt, named San Diego’s “Best Upscale Bar” is located on the 40th floor of the Harbor tower. It has outstanding views of San Diego Bay, Coronado, and the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the city skyline and the Gaslamp Quarter on the other. It is also really, really dark to emphasize the view outside. I met San Diegan Kristen Elise there for a drink Saturday night, and couldn’t spot her immediately, because I couldn’t see a thing! We texted each other and realized we were both in the bar already, so I basically looked around for a woman sitting alone and found her by her silhouette against the window.
Honestly, if you’re traveling alone, it would only really be enjoyable to hang out at the Top of the Hyatt if you can snag a comfy window seat. There is no traditional bar to sit at, no TV, and no live entertainment. There are some counter seats around the room, but they face walls and are fairly uncomfortable, so if you have no view of the windows, there’s really nothing to look at. And it’s way too dark in there to read a book. Kristen and I agreed, too, that a pianist would really add to the atmosphere, more so than the pop music playing in the background. Drinks are a little pricey, but you are getting the spectacular view in exchange.
In the future, I would probably instead stake my claim to a bar stool at the well-lit Grand Lobby Bar on the ground floor. It is indeed “grand,” with a mahogany bar, beautifully upholstered furniture, and Italian marble. On a Saturday night, there was a keyboardist and a singer performing there, and they were quite good. If there is no live music, you can always rely on the TVs and wifi and making new friends at the bar.
In short, I was thrilled with my stay at the Manchester Grand Hyatt and only wish it could have been longer. I can’t imagine a more appropriate place to stay in San Diego, especially if you want to be in the midst of things, but not right in the Gaslamp Quarter, which can be noisy at night because of all the bars and nightclubs there. The Hyatt isn’t cheap, but you can find reasonable rates if your dates are flexible. If luxury and a bit of pampering in an urban setting is what you’re in the mood for during your trip to San Diego, save your pennies and treat yourself to the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary night, breakfast buffet and free Internet access from the Grand Hyatt, as well as a reduced press rate for my remaining night.