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Saturday, April 2, 2022

Pendry San Diego Hotel Review, Guide, & How to Book in 2023 in the Gaslamp Quarter

During the pandemic, domestic travel became popular but the hospitality industry has been slow to get back in gear in terms of service.  How many of you have stayed at establishments where dining, housekeeping, concierge and more have not lived up to the standards you experienced prior to 2020? Some luxury brands have capitalized on the slower return of many companies and to Luxury Travel Docs, the difference between brands has been very clear in 2021. Montage International is a brand that stands out. Featuring a distinctive collection of hospitality brands, Montage International encompasses the ultra-luxury brand Montage Hotels & Resorts, the new luxury hospitality brand, Pendry Hotels, Montage Residences, and Pendry Residences.  Opening in 2016, the Pendry San Diego is convenient, comfortable and tasteful, everything we wanted for a recent visit to one of our favorite cities in California. 

The brand is new but on the move! Founded in 2015, Pendry Hotels is a collection of new luxury hotels for today’s world traveler located in existing destinations including: Pendry San Diego, Sagamore Pendry Baltimore and Pendry West Hollywood, with Pendry Manhattan West and Pendry Park City opened in early 2022 and Pendry Natirar opening in 2022.


We've stayed at many boutique hotels over the years, some of which have bore witness to absolutely amazing events, like the Southern Hotel in Covington, Louisiana, and Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel, and the Pendry San Diego is the latest to add to our list.  This laid-back luxurious hotel is one of our favorite picks when it comes to downtown San Diego hotels. It is located in a prime spot at the southern tip of the Gaslamp Quarter, which puts you a short walk from a Padres game, the San Diego Convention Center, vibrant nightlife, and some of the city's best restaurants.

1. Location

The Pendry San Diego is centrally located in Gaslamp quarter of San Diego near the San Diego Convention Center and the Embarcadero. Beloved attractions, like the Midway and Maritime museums, and Seaport Village are within walking distance. Petco Park, home to the San Diego Giants of the MLB National League can be seen from your hotel window. After dark, the city transforms into a sophisticated playground for adults. With an endless variety of posh night clubs, music venues and rooftop bars, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a memorable night out after a day of meetings or exploring. The Pendry is an easy Uber from San Diego International Airport and will cost about $15. 

2. Check-in

We were greeted promptly and checked in without difficulty from very accommodating employees wearing masks appropriately. The front desk was compliant with COVID-19 policies, unlike other hotels we have stayed at since the pandemic started. We were recognized as iPrefer elite members and as booking through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts immediately.  The staff member instructed us about the amenities and upgrades we received and answered all of our questions about the immediate area for site seeing and dining.  It was warm in San Antonio and complimentary water was provided to us on arrival as well as anytime required during our stay. 

The charm and design of The Pendry is evident immediately upon arrival and deserves an entire section of this article (Read on)!

3. Hotel Decor 

The Pendry San Diego reflects a similar decor to its other locations: comfortable, tasteful and modern. However, each location tries to incorporate local culture and/or history into the general theme. Located in the Gaslight quarter and on the site of former Nason & Co. Farmer’s Market, a grocer that occupied the site for much of the 1900s. Victorian style tiles, lighting, historic photographs and even an original brick wall found during renovation, decorate the reception, meeting and lobby areas. The laid-back vibe is great with the hotel bars and restaurants opening off of the lobby level, except for the rooftop bar which is quickly becoming a noticeable feature of every Pendry Hotel. 

Other travelers we’ve spoken to have said they plan to laminate their vaccination cards to prevent damage — and Staples will even do it for free.  We’re not fans of laminating our cards because you may need to add information about a booster to it later.  Of course you can use a sandwich bag to protect it, but we prefer a sleeve where the card can be removed and updated if booster shots become recommended in the future. We needed to show our vaccine cards to gain access to the San Diego convention center. Click the photo below to find these on Amazon:

4. Rooms

The Pendry Hotel maintains a vibe of local history into its rooms, but alas with a clean, comfortable and modern approach. Large windows and mirrors provide significant light during the day and allow you to see the fabulous weather that San Diego has to offer. Light colored tiles enhance the turn of the century theme alone, but when you look closely at the tiles, wallpaper and fabrics, historical San Diego and even the Gaslamp quarter are further represented. Let's start with the tiles. San Diego is filled with Colonial Spanish architecture and walking the room tiles pay homage to this history. What about the wallpaper?  Wouldn't you be surprised to see wallpaper with rabbits on it?  Not when you realize that the Gaslamp quarter was called "Rabbittville" in the past. Next to the rabbits on the walls are large waves. Maybe you've heard of The Beach Boys?  They recorded, performed and misbehaved in San Diego many times, songs such as Surfing Safari. Then you look to put your things on the chaise in the room and the plaid looks nice but just doesn't seem to go with the Spanish tile, rabbit theme. Then you realize The Beach Boys wore blue plaid all of the time. And of course what is your television playing? Songs from The Beach Boys. 

Overall, our room was small with an awkward centrally located glass enclosed shower. Fortunately there was turndown service to close the drapery surrounding the shower providing some privacy if you want it. Because of the small rooms, storage in the room for your clothing only consisted of a couple of small drawers and a small closet.  For the two of us there was not enough storage space for all we needed during   our two week trip. We had to leave our suitcases out because there was no where to store them or most of our belongings. 

The bed was very comfortable and we had no complaints about the pillow size to match the bed!

We found our room to be very quiet, despite the active Gaslamp quarter just downstairs or the rooftop bar.  Outside weekenders enjoy the incredible San Diego weather, but when you are ready to relax, a quiet room is necessary! 

Robes and slippers are provided. There is a mini bar in the room and an in-room expresso maker. Turndown service was provided with locally-made macarons left on your pillow with a fresh bottle of water and glass on your bedstand. There is an safe in the closet. 

The televisions were exactly what we expect in the 21st century! Streaming or casting services are provided at most luxury establishments now where you can cast your own programs from personal subscriptions like YouTube TV or Netflix, or watch many subscription channels, like HBO or Showtime, on demand from the TV. 

5. Bathrooms

Other than the awkward shower, we had few complaints about the bathroom. Adequate amenities (including wash cloths which are rare in Europe!) are provided, Momento by Min New York, and have a unisex scent. Vanity space was not plentiful but worked for us.  Robes are provided in the closet. 

6. Fitness

The hotel has a large modern gym available 24 hours per day with key fob access. The gym is near the rooftop bar and swimming pool.  The gym is well appointed with several treadmills and three Peloton bikes, so you can workout with your partner. Of course the area surrounding the hotel is safe for running or walking, so instead you may opt for endurance and body weight exercises outdoors in the incredible weather. 

To run, we prefer the route along Harbor Drive, run to the waterfront and head right. You should be able to get in 9 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.

The rooftop pool may be adequate for laps but is definitely not Olympic sized.  For longer swims we suggest Bud Kearns Memorial pool in nearby Balboa Park

Other Healthy Activities Nearby:

  • Swimming  Besides the ocean, which may be a little cool, there are plenty of community pools scattered around San Diego with the closest being in Balboa Park.
  • Cycling is very popular in San Diego and there are plenty of locations near the Pendry to rent bicycles.  Alas, as much as we would love to, you cannot cycle across the Coronado Bridge. 

7. Dining

Dining at the Pendry was a great experience.  The hotel itself has 5 separate locations to enjoy dining.  With our American Express FHR reservation, we enjoyed breakfast every morning in Provisional and an evening out at upscale Lionfish for dinner. Each meal we had was exceptional with excellent service. We were not able to fit in dining at Nason’s Beer Hall, a German-style pub and bar named for Nason & Co. Farmer’s Market, a grocer that occupied the site for much of the 1900s or Fifth & Rose bar. The rooftop bar was an excellent spot for a night cap. 

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.

  • History

    The San Diego Gaslamp District got a slow start. The city's earliest residents moved away from the waterfront, choosing instead to build at the elevated location of today's Old Town . An early development project near the waterfront failed, so utterly that the area came to be called Rabbitville, in honor of its only inhabitants.

    From the Konsulat's website: "Ditlev Thomsen (1867-1935) was a third generation merchant and entrepreneur in Reykjavík, a prominent figure in Reykjavík’s society and a driving force in the young town’s transformation into a modern city. Ditlev served as the German consul in Reykjavík from 1896 to 1915 serving as inspiration for the name Konsulat.  Following the death of his father in 1899, Ditlev Thomsen took the reins of the family enterprise and so began the most flourishing chapter in the history of Thomsen’s Department Stores. The firm grew rapidly; several buildings on the downtown premises were added to its already impressive collection, accommodating the increasing number of specialized departments as well as factories and workshops producing consumer goods and supplies. Thomsen’s Magasin – so named after the grand store in Copenhagen – and its proprietor, held a pivotal position in the town’s trade and indeed various foreign relations at the turn of the century during a time of growth in Reykjavík." 

    Period photos of the stores and family pepper the hotel from the lobby to the guest rooms. Other interesting items, including store displays of men's clothing such as collars and cuffs from the early 20th century can be viewed in the lobby.  

    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.  This stylish property is built around some amazing lounges, restaurants and has a location that is in the center of it all.  You will find everything you need: nice rooms, great service, fitness opportunities, and great dining amenities. The only weakness is the small room with lack of storage space which is always a trade off when you want to be in an exciting urban area.

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