We’ve seen a lot of interesting buildings on our trip to San Diego so far, but there is no more iconic building here than the famed Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Beach.
Built way back in 1888, this wooden resort (the second largest wooden structure in the United States) was built as a destination for developers. The idea by the builders was to develop this mostly barren area with a resort hotel and draw visitors and developers to the surrounding land (which they owned).
Architect James W. Reid designed the hotel, but the work of completing it relied on the backs of Chinese labor. The times have certainly changed – the hotel was sold to a Chinese insurance company as part of a 15-property $6.5 billion deal in early 2016.
In addition to that brick red roof, the rounda, “turret” and dormers are the main architectural stand-outs. Almost ten stories tall, The Del’s turret is featured on navigation charts and has served as a nautical and aeronautical landmark for decades. They lowered the rotunda’s ceiling later on, so the interior ballroom does not go all the way to the top of the turret.
Another one of the hotel’s prominent features is the “Woman in the Window.” Located on the front façade and original to the hotel, the window was first mounted in the lobby chimney, visible from the front exterior as well as the lobby interior. After the fireplace was removed in the 1920s, the stained glass was displayed in a variety of interior locations. In 1995, it was moved to its current location on the fourth floor exterior, above the lobby entrance. Architect James Reid described the stained-glass scene as an “allegorical representation of Coronado” with a landscape “representing mountains, valleys and a bay.”
In the lobby, the elevator is also original to the building. It’s ornamental metal screen caught my lens.
Wood, of course, is featured throughout the building. Surprisingly, no nails were used in the intricate ceilings.
If you want beachfront accommodations in San Diego, you can’t do much better than the Hotel del Coronado. Of course it’s expensive, which is why we stayed in an Airbnb and just came here for sun and drinks!