A mainstay in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter since it opened in 2000, the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is wrapping up a $22.5 million renovation that redid the hotel from top to bottom.
“With that $22.5 million, we were able to completely redesign our entire hotel,” said General Manager Francesca Ramirez.
Owned by Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, based in Bethesda, Maryland, the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter was last renovated in 2012, and that was what Ramirez described as “a soft refresh of the rooms only.”
“This new renovation is to elevate the guest experience from their check-in to guest rooms to dining and entertainment at the hotel,” Ramirez said.
Just about everything was touched, from the 256 tower guest rooms and the 30 loft suites to the 16,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event spaces.
The lobby got a complete makeover, including two check-in pods that replaced what had been a more impersonal, traditional check-in desk.
Gone too is a double-sided fireplace that had been in the lobby, replaced with comfy seating to give the lobby more of a homey touch.
“Now, we have these beautiful floor tiles and modular seating,” said Mark Manis, director of sales and marketing. “We more than tripled our seating area, which allows our guests to get out of their rooms, come down and socialize with the other guests.”
The new look creates what Ramirez described as an open feel that flows from the entrance through the first floor of the hotel, creating “the California culture which is more open.”
Rabbits, which once roamed the site of the hotel, play a whimsical role in the renovated hotel, with the new hotel restaurant named the Wild Hare Garden, its menu featuring rabbit-themed beverages and California cuisine.
The neighborhood that was to become the Gaslamp Quarter was jokingly nicknamed Rabbitville in San Diego’s early days, according to the Gaslamp Quarter Association.
“Our owners wanted to kind of have fun with that theme a little bit,” Ramirez said. “We’re kind of bringing in the history in the restaurant as much as we can.”
Drinks on the menu include an “I’m All Ears” rum cocktail and the “Lucky Foot” vodka cocktail – and there’s even a “Garden Patch” salad of beet humus and chilled baby vegetables.
There’s also an herb garden on the second floor terrace where herbs are grown for use in restaurant dishes, and sometimes sampled by hotel guests.
“Everything is growing right now and it’s beautiful,” Ramirez said.
The addition of the Wild Hare “is going to be an entirely new concept,” Ramirez added. “We kind of went from just a lounge to having a restaurant.”
The restaurant opens through garage-style doors to an exterior patio dining area with two outdoor fire pits. There’s also a private dining room that can accommodate 50 people.
The 256 guest rooms and 30 loft suites are getting a new look on a theme based loosely on California culture and ‘chill’ vibe that exudes a bit of 1970s nostalgia.
That involved installing new carpeting and flooring, fresh paint and bringing in new furniture with round corners “so if you bang your shins on it, it won’t hurt as much as it normally would,” Manis said.
The color palette in the guest rooms has gone from blues to earth tones, and new LED lighting, new artwork and new drapes were added.
Designed by Waldrop + Nicols Studio, based in Dallas, the renovation of the Hilton is one of several hotel makeovers and openings of late in downtown San Diego, including the. Margaritaville Hotel Gaslamp Quarter, MC Hotel Gaslamp, and the Bayside Marriott
Manis said that most of the Hilton’s guests come to attend events in the San Diego Convention Center across the street, and Manis said that the renovations also will cater to their needs.
“A lot of our guests are world travelers,” Manis said. “They really have high expectations.”
Pebblebrook Hotel Trust
Headquarters: Bethesda, MD
CEO: Jon Bortz
Business: Real estate investments
Notable: Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (NYSE: PEB) is a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT) organized in December 2009 to acquire and invest in upscale, full-service hotel and resort properties in or near urban markets in major U.S. gateway cities.