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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Review of Carte Hotel: San Diego’s Newest Boutique Hotel

San Diego’s vibrant Little Italy neighborhood is a constantly evolving place that in recent years has seen an endless stream of exciting new restaurant openings, neighborhood improvement projects and the launch of trendy retail and residential spaces.

The latest new name in the thriving neighborhood is Carte Hotel. The 246-room property, a Curio Collection by Hilton, development, is located in a stylish, airy and sunlight-filled 16-story building on the corner of W. Ash and State streets. What does the name mean? Passport and we agree that this is a passport to explore a vibrant and exciting city!

1. Location

The location is outstanding to explore all that downtown San Diego has to offer. A short walk away is the trendy area of Little Italy with farmers markets, restaurants, breweries, wine bars and more. In addition the Embarcadero waterfront is just a few blocks away and many rooms offer views of the waterfront. The Embarcadero is full of opportunities to enjoy the water or take in a museum like the USS Midway, take off on a whale watching tour or just stroll. The amazing Balboa Park with museums and the famous San Diego Zoo is a 2 mile walk or a quick Uber and a great way to spend an afternoon. The gas lamp district famous for its nightlife is about a 1 mile walk or easy Uber ride. Options to getting there are flying to nearby San Diego airport, driving (parking is ?$50 per day and only valet is available) or train because the Santa Fe train station is only a couple of blocks away. A feature of curio hotels is destination Tesla charging and Carte has four Tesla chargers.

2. Check-in

We were greeted as members and checked in early without any difficulty from a very accommodating employee who was very helpful to orient us to the hotel, it's amenities and immediate area. We were greeted as gold members and provided waters.

3. Rooms

The entire property is an ode to its broader San Diego backdrop. To that end, the hotel’s color palette includes various soothing shades of blue, reflective of the coastal location of its host city. This is immediately evident in the soft shades of blues, gray and woods the colors of driftwood and boardwalks.

The room has more than adequate space for the luggage we carried but drawer and closet space is at a minimum. Carte has contemporary but comfortable amenities and if you are used to a more traditional style, you should find the decor satisfactory.

The bed was very comfortable with outstanding down pillows to match the size of the bed. However, we found the room to be somewhat noisy with street noise despite being on the 10th floor. Unlike many of our stays, adjusting the temperature on the thermostat was simple and effective.

Guest room amenities include fiber Internet and 55-inch, 4K TVs with smart phone streaming capabilities. There is a refrigerator which appear to be an unstocked minibar but it didn't work.

In room bottled water is not provided but there is a water and ice refill station on every floor. In room Keurig with Lavazza coffee are provided. An in-room safe large enough for a laptop and robe are in the closet. Plenty of usb and plug charging sites are provided.

The view from our room was with floor to ceiling windows offering views of Little Italy but other rooms and points throughout the hotel will offer views of the waterfront or downtown San Diego. Please note that at the time of our stay the rooftop venue Above Ash Social was not yet opened.

4. Bathrooms

The bathrooms are large, bright and airy at the Carte. There is adequate vanity space for travelers and a large walk-in shower with adequate shelving.

Toiletries are by EST - designed for boutique hotels in San Diego. We love the black makeup towel since it doesn't take much to permanently stain white towels!

5. Fitness

Carté has a heated saltwater pool surrounded by cabana seating and still more San Diego views.

Just downstairs from the pool will be the property’s 28,000 square foot Fit Athletic Club Little Italy, which will offer exclusive gym access to its members and hotel guests, including access to classes, full-service locker rooms, and specialty equipment. At the time of our visit the hotel offers access to Fit Athletic Club East Village with reimbursement for Uber rides to and from the off site location (it is 1.3 miles away on foot). The front desk printed out complimentary classes available during our entire stay.

Photo courtesy of Carte Hotel

Certainly the area surrounding the hotel is safe for walking or jogging - we prefer the route along Harbor Drive, run to the waterfront and head right. You should be able to get in 6 miles easily if you include Harbor Island. There aren't many locations where you can run and hear the Star spangled banner at 8am and see runners stop to honor the flag.

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6. Dining

Even though the Above Ash Social wasn't open at the time of our visit we asked some of the engineers about the plans and were told that there will be numerous fire pits and a giant LED TV wall on the rooftop ideal for viewing sports events or even outdoor movies.

Carte has two restaurants on-site open at the time of publication: Watercolors and Vino. Watercolors is where breakfast and full service meals are served with sustainable local fare. Breakfast provided to gold members of the Hilton Honors program is two of the dishes listed including the signature chilequiles which was amazing. You can also order off of the standard breakfast menu as a diamond member or receive a $10 credit per person as a gold member. The selections from the honors menu are better in our opinion.

Also, on the ground floor is Carte’s full-service wine bar and specialty spirit tasting room, Fonte di Vino, which will showcase a spirit-driven tour of the region. The menu will feature local wineries and distilleries from Southern California and Mexico, as well as some offerings from Italy. The wine bar will offer outdoor patio seating, which has proved wildly popular at venues throughout Little Italy and downtown San Diego to maximize people-watching opportunities.

Other restaurants that we recommend nearby:

  • Rustic Root  A Modern rooftop destination featuring local, seasonal cuisine & craft cocktails in stylish surrounds.  Sit upstairs or downstairs -- upstairs is more lively and less expensive, but be prepared for some noise!
  • Nolita Hall Inspired by both the modern and traditional drinking emporiums in Europe’s legendary beer cities, Nolita Hall San Diego has the promise of a unique and unexpected full-service restaurant experience.
  • Farmers Table  A food-to-fork destination, bringing locally sourced organic ingredients together to be savored in an inviting atmosphere.
  • Panama 66 When visiting Balboa Park, Panama 66 is a restaurant that occupies the open-air setting of The San Diego Museum of Art’s May Sculpture Garden. The focus is on locally sourced, hand-crafted food and drink, from salads and sandwiches to seasonal cocktails and more.
  • Leroy's When you visit Coronado Island (which we recommend for an afternoon!) Enjoy lunch or dinner at this eclectic farm-to-table eats, craft beers & clever cocktails in a modern space with open rafters.

Bottom line:

We recommend this hotel for any visit to San Diego unless you prefer the beach and for that we recommend staying at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort. What does Carte mean? Passport. We agree that this is a passport to explore a vibrant and exciting city! This stylish new property is built around three core offerings - elevated amenities, sophisticated design, and exceptional culinary venues and experiences. You will find everything you need: nice rooms, a large bathroom, fitness opportunities, and great dining amenities. The only weakness is the city noise which is always a trade off when you want to be in an exciting urban area.

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1 comment:

  1. Was an ok hotel, but parking was $56 with not much to go on at check in as to what to do, and fragrance in common areas was enough to make me never want to come back. Add the street noise all night long...why would they not put in sound proof windows? I stayed next to LAX before and didn't hear jets and street noise like here.