What It’s Like Staying at the Hotel del Coronado

You want to know the last time Steve and I stayed in an actual hotel? January 2020! How crazy is that?! Until last month, that is. We finally felt comfortable enough, and the country had opened up enough, for us to fly all the way from D.C. to San Diego and spend a weekend on Coronado Island, California. We celebrated our semi-return to travel with a stay at the elegant, legendary, beautiful Hotel del Coronado!

Except it wasn’t quite the delightful experience we hoped it would be. We knew some amenities would be unavailable, we’d have to wear masks, and we’d need to be flexible. We were totally prepared for that. We were not prepared for a legendary hotel that seems to have given up. Here’s my honest review. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t as bad as La Mamounia in Marrakech!)

COVID Cleaning and Adjustments

The Hotel del Coronado is part of the Hilton brand, and their cleaning procedures have increased since the pandemic started. You can find all the details here on their Hilton Clean Stay webpage. I’ll just run through the highlights:

Items you’ll notice:

  • No housekeeping! This one is counter-intuitive. How does cleaning less make sense right now? This protects you from the housekeeping staff inadvertantly bringing in germs from everyone else’s room every day. It also protects the housekeeping staff from your germs every day! Sorry, it also means no made bed every day!
  • No fresh linens, refreshed coffee and tea, or refreshed bottles of water. Don’t worry! You can simply call the front desk or text a special number that they’ll give you to ask for more.
  • The remote is in a plastic bag that should be changed between stays. This is to keep vicious COVID germs from hiding in the buttons!
Bagged remote.
Needless to say, we had to call down for more coffee during our three-night stay!
Read on: The Best Hotel Luxuries in the World

Items to feel good about but you may not notice:

  • Wiping down knobs. These are high-touch items!
  • Disinfecting light switches. I’ll bet you never thought of cleaning those before COVID, did you?
  • Cleaning handles: cabinet handles, drawer pulls, lamp switches, etc.
  • Again, get the specifics here!
Cleaned and sealed!
Want more? Check out What It’s Like Staying at a Hotel During the Pandemic.

The Hotel

When it opened in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado was the largest beach resort in the entire world. It’s still pretty big! Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, you can visit to see it for yourself! The restaurants are open to the public, of course, as are the shops.

However, during our stay, most of the restaurants were closed. Surprisingly, this was not solely due to COVID. Some of the restaurants that had been open during the pandemic were closed because of… the weather. It was cold (50s and low 60s) the whole time, and it rained two out of the three days we were there. So there were even fewer restaurants to choose from.

Because it doesn’t rain often in San Diego, and it’s usually mild and pleasant year-round, the hotel has apparently made no provision for less-than-perfect weather days. This may not matter to locals–it’s just a couple of days out of the year, right? But for us, it was the whole trip. There were not enough available indoor seating areas (there was exactly one semi-indoor option, but only four seats, which were all taken, of course). This is a miss for an iconic resort. There needs to be an option for bad weather, whether that’s excessive heat, excessive cold, or even rain in the desert.

Such a beautiful, iconic hotel. Too bad management seems to have given up on it!
Keep reading: How to Earn and Use Hotel Rewards

The Grounds

The grounds at the Hotel del Coronado are beautiful. They really are. The courtyard in the center of the Victorian Building is well cared-for and pleasant when the weather’s good. There are plenty of places to workout outside either on your own or as part of their group fitness classes. There is also a pool and a hot tub with plenty of seating around them, a sun deck, and several outdoor dining options as well. The beach is gigantic, and it’s right outside the hotel, which is pretty convenient.

The courtyard on the one sunny day we got!
Not a bad view for a bodyweight strength workout and HIIT session.
Not sure how you could POSSIBLY workout without a gym? Check out my
Health and Wellness Page for all my travel-friendly workouts and follow-along videos!

The Room

We stayed in a suite in the Victorian Building. Honestly, I was disappointed with our room. First, because it literally could have been anywhere. It looks like a Hilton, not like a historic, Victorian hotel room. Second, we didn’t get a nice view or a balcony. I’m not one to expect or ask for special treatment, but honestly, the view of the loading dock and construction workers walking past our window were not charming.

At a time when the hotel is nowhere near capacity because of COVID, it would have cost them nothing to put all their guests (including us) into their best rooms. All guests still had to pay the full resort fee, despite most of the amenities being unavailable. Putting us all in rooms with a little something special would have made me want to come back when COVID is gone. As it is, I don’t see any reason to come back.

This room could be in Des Moine, Iowa. Or Lebanon, Tennessee. Nothing about this is charming, Victorian, Californian, or even beachy.
Large TV and Dresser. I did like the dresser for the counter top space, as well as the drawers inside.
It did have a surprisingly large, walk-in closet, which was nice.
Not what I expected from a legendary beach resort.
More here: Legendary Hotels of the World

The Bathroom

The bathroom was good. There were plenty of places to store things, which is a huge preference of mine. I’m not high-maintenance in any way, but I do need a place to put my toothpaste, toothbrush, contact solution, contacts case, retainer, etc. Yeah, I still wear my retainer like a responsible person who doesn’t want adult braces.

The shower had good pressure (also very important), there were plenty of towels and places to hang them (we did not have to call down for more towels, even with no housekeeping), and the soap was actually good, which is unusual for hotels these days.

The bathroom
The sink
Plenty of hand towels and wash cloths, soap, lotion, shower gel, conditioner, and shampoo.
Prefer to bring your own toiletries? Check out the Best Solid Toiletries for Travel!

So what do you think? Have you stayed at a hotel since the pandemic started? Comment below! And for more, check out my Accommodations Page!

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2 responses to “What It’s Like Staying at the Hotel del Coronado”

  1. Sad to see this – since I’m a native San Diegan. Next time I encourage you to go to the Grand Colonial in La Jolla. Although not on the first weekend in April (car show and extreme noise). La Valencia is nice too – but we go there mainly for breakfast (the views are to die for).

    1. Thank you so much for the recommendation! Several people have recommended La Jolla, so I think it needs to make its way on to our “to go” list! We will definitely check out the Grand Colonial!

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