Hotel del Coronado

Historic Building in San Diego

Image by Don Klumpp Getty Images

Few hotels in the world are as easily recognized or as well loved as ‘The Del.’ The world’s largest resort when it was built in 1888, the all-timber, whitewashed main building offers conical towers, cupolas, turrets, balconies, dormer windows and cavernous public spaces typical of their designers, railroad-depot architects James and Merritt Reid. Acres of polished wood give the interior a warm, old-fashioned feel that conjures daydreams of Panama hats and linen suits.

The hotel achieved its widest exposure when it was featured in the 1959 movie Some Like It Hot, which earned it a lasting association with Marilyn Monroe. Other guests have included 11 US presidents and world royalty whose pictures and mementos adorn the hotel’s history gallery. There’s speculation that Edward (then Prince of Wales) first met Mrs Simpson (then Mrs Spencer) when he visited in 1920, though the two did not become an item until years later.

There’s an interesting resident ghost story, too, about a jilted woman who haunts the hotel; some claim she silently appears in hallways, messes with the lights and with the TV screen in the room where she had her heart broken. In case you were wondering – it's room 3327 on the 5th floor in the Victorian building.

For a taste of the Del without a stay, enjoy breakfast or lunch at the beach-view Sheerwater restaurant or splurge on Sunday brunch under the grand dome of the spectacular Crown Room, under chandeliers designed by L Frank Baum, who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.