TRAVEL: U. S. Grant Hotel, San Diego

Being fashionably late can be one way to get you noticed at a party, but it can also be a vulgar expression of rudeness. One can usually get away with being fifteen minutes late to a cocktail gathering, but a tardy arrival for a dinner party might mean your host's

hors d'oeuvres

will be served cold with flat champagne. Shame on you!

When it comes to air travel, "late" can mean "not traveling", as


fashionado Traveler

recently discovered. My recent trip to Delta's first class ticket counter produced sad news: my reservation had been for the day before! Time to make lemonade: a quick call to Starwood's Platinum Concierge and I was booked for the night at the stellar

U. S. Grant

hotel in downtown San Diego. And what delicious lemonade it on:


Built by the son of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, The U.S. Grant hotel has been an icon of grandeur in downtown San Diego since its opening in 1910. In 2003, the hotel was purchased by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, who closed the doors for twenty-one months to renovate the building at a cost of over $80 million. It reopened in November of 2006 and is truly a sight to behold! Read the entire history of the hotel



The U. S. Grant - a Starwood Hotels

Luxury Collection

hotel, boasts 247 luxurious rooms and 47 opulent suites, along with the legendary Grant Grill and Lounge and 33,000 square feet of elegant and historic event spaces and ballrooms.


Arriving via taxi in the hotel's interior motor court, I was greeted by a bellman who whisked my luggage away and escorted me to the front desk. As I had arrived around noon, my accommodation was not quite ready providing me with a perfect opportunity to explore the hotel! I was met by Russ Mitchell, the hotel's Director of Sales and Marketing, who provided me with an hour-long tour of the property and regaled me with the hotel's history and his encyclopedic knowledge of little-known facts about the property. We even visited one of the two two-story Presidential Suites, where I marveled at the beauty and elegance of what had been the itinerant home for monarchs, statesmen and captains of business from around the world.

After my tour I visited the bar in the Grant Grill for a refreshing dirty martini and met—by chance—

Dr. Kenneth Blum

, the noted and internationally recognized authority and researcher on neuropsychopharmacology and genetics, a friendly and unassuming man who—I've since learned—is credited as the co-discoverer of the alcoholism gene! A fascinating man who had simply stopped in to grab a quick snack.

Not long later the front desk called to inform me that my room was ready. I had been upgraded to a Landmark Suite, a delicious one-bedoom, 1-1/2 bath refuge with high ceilings, luxe furnishings and beautiful baths. My luggage arrived moments later and I took a few minutes to freshen up for the evening.

After exploring the historic lower level of the hotel, which has been lovingly restored to its early 20th century grandeur, I returned to the Grant Grill and was greeted by

Tom Scaramellino

, the Grant's Operations Manager who, like everyone else I encountered during my stay, welcomed me heartily and assured me that he and his entire staff were available to see to whatever needs I might have.

I ventured out into the neighborhood, where I strolled across the street and into Horton Plaza, a lovely outdoor mall, and then a few short blocks away into San Diego's famous Gaslamp Quarter, where I meandered past an endless array of restaurants, bars and unique shops. Returning to the Grant I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the huge crystal chandeliers in the Grand Lobby, rising above a massive Persian rug and comfortably furnished into a myriad of areas where one could relax, meet or simply reflect upon their surroundings and the day ahead.

Calling it a night early, my 7 a.m. flight looming before me, I slept in my oh-so-comfortable bed and awoke to the first hints of the rising sun as I indulged in a quick cup of coffee from the in-room gourmet coffee apparatus. It was a sad departure; I felt as if I never wanted to leave!


In a previous review - the St. Regis Atlanta - I was able to find a single tiny detail that was overlooked, a rarity indeed.

At the U. S. Grant I'm completely at a loss to complain about a single thing. A truly spectacular hotel. A gorgeous, comfortable room. Awesome staff. The food and beverage venues and service exceeded my expectations. There was no dust in my room, nor a single spot on a mirror or piece of glass. Even the bath amenities were perfectly aligned on the countertop!



U. S. Grant, hotel, San Diego. Four Stars. Rooms from $239 midweek, $199 weekend. Discounts and packages available. See the Luxury Collection


for more information.

Tips and trivia: Visit the perimeter walls of the space beyond the elevators for an interesting look at the hotel's history and that of its Native American owners. Look for the medallion in the middle of the floor between the two banks of elevators in the Grand Lobby; beneath it lies the hotel's time capsule, containing relics from the hotel's early years and the time of the recent renovation.

*fashionado Traveler Score: 9.8 (out of 10). Nothing gets a ten.

The fashionado Traveler

has traveled extensively throughout the world, including 47 U.S. States and four continents. He holds elite status with multiple hotel chains and is quickly approaching the two million mile mark on Delta Air Lines. He lives in the Atlanta area and hails originally from California, where he spent his younger and admittedly less stylish years in the San Francisco Bay Area. He invites your comments and encourages invitations to your favorite away-from-home places.