I want to thank Kat for this wonderful hotel review. I’ll be staying at Hotel Solamar and this review has me even more excited, if that’s possible. I hope to have a few celebrity encounters of my own while staying there!
Hotel Solamar By Kat
Last year I stayed at the Hotel Solamar with my group. Loved the hotel to pieces. We booked it that year immediately upon our return from San Diego in July of 2009. We booked for SDCC11 in September of 2010 as soon as reservations opened. I’m a vacation planner by nature & planning ahead for this one definitely paid off. Standard rooms were going for more than $50 less than the con rate, even the mini suite we booked was less than the con rate.
The hotel is just about half a mile from the convention center. When you add in crowds, street lights & all that jazz, it’s still maybe a 10 minute walk. It’s just far enough away from the Gaslamp action that once we got going towards our hotel, the crowds leaving the convention really broke up.
We booked a mini suite, so we had about 450 sq ft. to spread ourselves & our con gear out. The room had one king bed & a pull out sofa. We had 4, then 5 of us in the room. It’s a boutique style hotel, so not a ton of closet or drawer space. But I’m not big on unpacking all my stuff when I vacation anyway, so it wasn’t missed. Big bathroom with two sinks, nice for getting ready in the morning with everyone. It was a little cramped with five people, but nothing we couldn’t manage.
We booked again outside of the Convention Block for our room. We like getting a suite for some extra space, breathing room and their prices for what you get I feel are totally reasonable. Our room this year is about as big as my last apartment! We’re paying more than the con rate, but we obviously upgraded our room. I know other people have gotten their rooms direct through the Solamar for significantly less than the con rate.
We didn’t order room service or eat at the attached restaurant, but you do get $15 from the minbar if you’re a member of the Kimpton’s In Touch program. We used it for booze. Speaking of which, we may not have eaten at the hotel restaurant but we did kick it for a while at the bar.
Our first night in, completely exhausted from the drive and a day of the con, we decided to hit up the hotel bar. Our bartender was fun and funny and could make me a gin gimlet without me having to explain what it is (Love of gimlets: also the answer to the trivia question “What is the thing Kat & 80 year old men have most in common?”).
For food around the Con, we hit up the Broken Yolk Café just down 6th Ave from the Solamar a few times. Yummy sandwiches & breakfast foods that won’t kill your wallet. They’re only open Breakfast & Lunch though. The Cheese Shop was another favorite down at 4th & Market. Any place that will serve me eggs is a winner in my book, so I’m easy to please.
Ralph’s is a quick walk away so we also picked up some snacks and drinks to have in the hotel room, usually took the con shuttle to Ralph’s & then walked home with our groceries. You can request that they empty your minibar if you want to use it for storage, but its very small. We made due with trips to the ice machine to chill our various wares.
The Solamar is also the host of SyFy/Entertainment Weekly’s big party Saturday night. Our group went out to some clubs down in Hillcrest that night, but the bookends of our night had a few celebrity encounters, like Yvette Nicole Brown because gorgeous & hilarious in an elevator (coolest person to spend a 10 second ride with by far!) & Nick Swardson getting a little handsy with my boyfriend at the hotel doors. By the time we got home, everyone was kinda mingling around the lobby, etc.
SyFy’s talent also seems to be housed there, judging by all the people we saw in elevators, etc. throughout the weekend (including the entire cast of Warehouse 13 just bumming around the lobby before their panel!).
The hotel requires valet parking if you bring a car & it’s around $35 a night. Expensive but also pretty standard for downtown San Diego. Wifi is free at the hotel if you’re a member of their In-Touch program.
They have coffee & tea downstairs in the morning & in the evenings a wine hour from 5-6. If you happen to be trudging back to the hotel around that time, it is nothing short of divine to be able to sit in a big comfy couch with a glass of wine. They close the pool for the SyFy party set up, so if you were hoping to clock some pool time, you should make it before Friday or after Saturday. General noise level at the hotel was a non issue for me. It’s just a little to the side of most of the Gaslamp action, so I think that helps keep it a little quieter. Also after a long day of the Con I could sleep through just about anything. If you have a room overlooking your pool, you’re likely to get some noise pollution from parties.
All in all, we had an amazing time. Our entire group liked the hotel better than the Manchester Grand Hyatt (which we really liked too!). It just felt a little more connected to the Con (pictures of SyFy shows everywhere, little touches like that). It was just as close as the Hyatt, but not having to cross back and forth over Harbor to get to food/nightlife made a really big mental difference.