The term “checking in” doesn’t really apply at Andaz San Diego. With no stuffy uniforms and no check in desk to speak of, the experience is more akin to being greeted by an old friend—one who looks like a Prada model. Sitting comfortably in one of the plush settees in the lobby-cum-lounge, I sip a glass of wine (complimentary, of course) as my “host” inputs my information in a handheld PC. Before I know it I am checked in and have a handful of suggestions to keep me occupied during my stay, including a gallery opening nearby and a “must try” Italian restaurant a few blocks away.
Not bad, I think as he escorts me to my large guestroom where expansive windows overlook a street in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter. Sophisticated yet sleek, my room is all creamy whites, chocolate browns and custom features in warm woods. All 159 rooms are outfitted with a spacious work area, large plasma screen TV, iPod docking station and complimentary WiFi internet access. After helping myself to a free snack (juice, nuts and chocolate from the mini bar), I head to the rooftop lounge, where Pretty Young Things drink cocktails till the wee hours and check out the city’s skyline (or, most likely, each other).
The scene is not entirely different during the day as skimpy bikinis, large sunglasses and SPF 10 replace skimpy dresses, stilettos and Chanel No. 5. The largest rooftop space in downtown San Diego, the Ivy Rooftop offers gorgeous city views, and lots of places to relax under the sun or stars, including private cabanas for those who desire a bit more seclusion. The action doesn’t stop there. Downstairs is the Ivy Wine Bar, which offers some 89 vintages by the glass; Quarter Kitchen, where the focus is on Asian-inspired dishes made with locally-grown produce; and Ivy Nightclub, a multi-level club where famous and up-and-coming DJs spin everything from electronic to indie rock. Luckily, Andaz guests receive VIP passes to the club thus avoiding hours of waiting in line.
At the end of each long day exploring San Diego I look forward to heading home, er, to my room—a sure sign that the Andaz is doing everything right.
While You’re There
Andaz San Diego is located in the lively Gaslamp Quarter, within walking distance of the city’s trendiest galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Soak up some culture at the Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in a former rail depot downtown. Animal lovers can spend the day with gorillas, giraffes and bears at the famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, while golf enthusiasts hit the green at Torrey Pines Golf Course, a clifftop course that looks out over the Pacific. At the end of a busy day, peckish guests should take on the Noble Experiment, a gastropub speakeasy backed by bartender Sam Ross, formerly of NYC’s Milk and Honey.
Need To Know
- Convenient and fun Gaslamp location
- Free WiFi
- Happening rooftop nightclub
- A minibar with free soft drinks and snacks
- Not ideal for families; the late night bar scene might not suit everyone
- Four miles from the Old Town Trolley
- Valet parking costs $40 per night
- Check-in is at 4 p.m.