Friday 22 November 2019
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businessinsider - 14 days ago

Hotel review: I spent a weekend at the brand-new Guild Hotel in San Diego, part of the Marriott Bonvoy collection — here s why I plan to go back

Downtown San Diego is chockablock with hotels and tourists but The Guild San Diego is a new property that offers a real respite from the crowds with a peaceful courtyard and charming, historic details. Formerly a 1920s-era Army-Navy YMCA, the building was thoughtfully reimagined as a tribute to San Diego, while delivering on the style and upscale decor expected from a Tribute Portfolio hotel within the Marriott Bonvoy family of hotels. With rooms starting at $170 a night, there are certainly cheaper hotels in the city, but you ll be hard-pressed to beat the intimate vibe at this price point. I spent a night in an Artisan Room and think it s worth the money for the overall experience. Ships have been sailing in and out of San Diego s bay since the 16th century, but it s easy to forget the past when staying in vibrant, revived, and bustling downtown. The Guild San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, is a newer addition to the neighborhood, housed in a century-old Armed Services YMCA. Yet rather than erasing the building s past, the owners have lovingly embraced its former life in an effort to honor San Diego s rich maritime heritage. Ornate, Italian Renaissance Revival exteriors were maintained, while run-down dormitory-style interiors were totally transformed. In fact, standing in the lobby now, it s hard to believe that this former Y was once a low-budget hostel. But before it fell into disrepair, in the 1920s, millions of servicemen and women passed through its doors for recreational dances, pool laps, and runs on the track. Now, it s a 162-room luxury boutique hotel from Marriott Bonvoy, with a tranquil courtyard, two-bedroom penthouse with a private rooftop, and an urban garden for all to enjoy. I spent two nights in an Artisan Room on a recent busy weekend and loved the witty nods to yesteryear with cozy but modern velvet furnishings, and an intimate, friendly vibe that extended all the way from the front steps to the bar and restaurant. But what I really loved was the subtle balance the hotel strikes, while still being located within the heart of downtown San Diego. There are lots of corporate big-box hotels here, and it can be hard to find a middle ground between modern and intimate at a reasonable price point. With rates starting as low as $170 per night, and the opportunity to use and redeem Marriott points, I d happily return to this rehabbed Y, where a late breakfast in the pale pink courtyard felt far more like the south of France than San Diego. The first impression The room On-site amenities What s nearby What others say What you need to know The bottom line Book The Guild San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, starting at $170 per night Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by The Guild San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio HotelSEE ALSO: Hotel review: This Palm Springs resort is our go-to for an affordable boutique stay in the desert SEE ALSO: Hotel review: Le Méridien San Francisco is a great option for comfort, value, and excellent last-minute deals SEE ALSO: Hotel review: I spent a night at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge and loved the waterfront location, city views, and how my room embraced nature

I pulled up to the building on a Friday evening, and it definitely looked like the hot place to be. Lots of dressed-up couples were headed up the stairs while I, in my wrinkled car trip attire, and accompanied by a Maltipoo and 10-year-old child, felt instantly frumpy in comparison. But my attention soon shifted to something far more impressive, the buildings strong bones. With rich columns, arched windows, and a rustic exterior, the look was classic Renaissance Revival. It was clear the hotel s renovation had taken painstaking care to preserve such intricate architectural elements. I opted out of the expensive valet service ($50) and parked around the corner on India St. in a lot that was $25 for overnight parking.

Inside, the look was both modern and historic, with cozy velvet banquettes and little nooks filling the high-ceilinged space. There was no wait for check-in, and the friendly staff gave me a rundown on hotel features, and also tipped me off to a card in my room that could fill me in on the full story of the building s history. After a brief tour of the lobby, where I clocked a sleek onyx-topped communal table and the entrance to the central courtyard restaurant, Luca, I was directed to my room on the lobby level.



As we walked down the hall to our room, I peered into the romantically-lit courtyard that was opposite it and made a mental note to check it out next. But first the room: all first-floor rooms are called Artisan Rooms, and feature, like the lobby, rich velvet touches. In my room that meant floor-to-ceiling curtains hiding a wonderful secret: impressive arched windows. The feel was decidedly cozy and compact, with warm retro touches. Artisan Rooms have remarkably high ceilings, which makes them feel massive, even though they re pretty intimately scaled. A bright white bath stocked great custom Maison Margiela Replica amenities (the fragrance is Jazz Club, with notes of heady cocktails and cigars they re not wrong. Other unexpected and appreciated touches included a flat iron as well as a hairdryer in the bathroom, a handheld steamer rather than an iron in the little wardrobe, and a Netflix-equipped TV.

Being on the lobby floor, we were quite close to the street and late at night, we definitely heard the noise of the San Diego weekend crowd. But surprisingly, drawing the heavy curtain took care of much of the noise. If I were a light sleeper, I might opt for a higher room (with lower ceilings), but since I m not, I d gladly take that fabulous, large window and sky-high ceiling. I also thought perhaps I had been placed in the first-floor room since my dog accompanied me to this pet-friendly hotel, but the concierge told me later that the $100 non-refundable pet cleaning deposit, for any length of stay, covers all dogs for all rooms. So if you have a special request of where you d like to be, make it.



I ate at Luca, the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant when The Guild first opened and thought the central courtyard was a lovely focal point for the whole hotel. I was glad to return on this visit to take a closer look at its potted palms and peach-hued walls. The feeling was hardly California cool, but rather, south of France sophistication. At night there was a warm glow from the custom outdoor fireplaces and ambient lighting from the city, while in the morning it felt bright and resort-like.

As the hotel restaurant was located only steps from my room, I felt totally relaxed coming in without worrying too much about hair and makeup. Astro, my Maltipoo, was welcome, too. If you don t feel like lingering, there s complimentary coffee in the lobby until 9 a.m.

The Guild Bar, just opposite Luca s entrance, was also a great place to start the evening with cocktails that acknowledged the hotel s historic roots, such as the Guild Old Fashioned (Elijah Craig bourbon, blood orange liquor, Luxardo, demerara syrup, orange bitters). On the evenings I was there, people lounged with a drink in discreet little lounge areas and at the bar.

One of the most surprising features of the hotel was its Grace Garden, a little oasis behind the hotel that was fully enclosed (and not accessible from the street). It felt totally protected and would be a great place to hold an event. It was formerly a basketball court (keep an eye out for hints of the original flooring), with an elevated running track that s still intact. In the basement, vintage pictures from the 1920s line a wall opposite the former swimming pool, which is now a ballroom-multipurpose room. There s even a photo of the original swimming pool, which is a great touch. Nearby, a surprisingly large workout room houses Peloton bikes, weight machines, and is decorated with vintage boxing gloves for another fun reminder of the former life as a Y. The Guild also holds partnerships with businesses in the neighborhood, which comes in handy if you need spa services, or for tips on local happy hours, exclusive to hotel guests.



The Guild is close walking distance close to anything you want to do in downtown San Diego. Massive, historic Balboa Park with all the museums of the Prado and the gorgeous Spreckells Organ Pavilion is a quick Uber drive northeast (walkable if you wish). Broadway Pier is a straight shot west from the hotel. From there, you can walk to the Star of India/Maritime Museum, the Port of San Diego (this is the perfect spot to stay before and/or after a cruise from San Diego s port), and catch the ferry to Coronado, too. All the great restaurants of Little Italy are a quick walk to the north up India Street, Copley Symphony Hall is nearby, and the bustling Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park are to the south. There s no need to have a car here, unless you arrived in one, as I did.

Since The Guild is fairly new, the fact that there are only around 40 reviews on Trip Advisor isn t surprising. Reviews are favorable overall, with a score of four out of five stars. I noticed that guests were polarized by the very aspects I liked about the hotel. Where I loved the simple elegance of the rooms, some negative reviewers wished for built-in closets, or a mini-bar or fridge. Several guests took issue with the fact that there s no pool in the hotel. This wasn t important to me, but I could understand why that would be desired in sunny San Diego. Noise was an issue for guests staying in the Artisan Rooms, but as I noted, I d happily close the curtain to enjoy those high ceilings, and accept a little noise for more indoor ambiance. But, to each their own. Those who love a hotel with historic bones and decor loved the sofas, bar, and courtyard as I did. And no one could fault the ideal location or the friendly and accommodating staff. Read reviews, compare prices, and book on Trip Advisor

Who stays here: Staycationers who want a little fun in downtown s walkable restaurant party-goers using the courtyard as an event tourists eager to see downtown San D business visitors who would rather eschew big box hotels for a more intimate stay with a European feel. And of course, Marriott loyalists. We like: The stories of local artisans in each room, and the warm, retro design, which was a great foil to all the beachy decor you get in San Diego. We love (don t miss this feature!): Don t miss a morning latte or evening cocktail in the gorgeous courtyard restaurant, Luca. I don t think there s a more transportive place in all of San Diego. We think you should know: Downtown gets noisy, and if you love a high ceiling, you might be opting for high decibel level in Artisan rooms, too. Plan accordingly, especially if you re a light sleeper. We d do this differently next time: I d come back on a romantic weekend (as I saw a few couples doing). And although my dog and child were absolutely welcome and loved, this feels more like a playground for adults.

The Guild Hotel San Diego, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel from Marriott, is for those who love grand, early 20th-century revival architecture. It s also a great place to stay when you want to pretend you ve whisked yourself off to the South of France, without the jet lag. The hotel has done a fabulous job of honoring its history through great design, preservation of certain rooms, photography, and a strong overarching narrative. All that work might be wasted on someone who doesn t love a good dose of history or architecture. Book The Guild San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel starting at $170 per night




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