Friday, June 15, 2018

'Hotel Del' greets the present with old-fashioned, genteel welcome

The Hotel del Coronado is a landmark in southern California, known around the globe. It was built in 1888.

ON APPROACH, the stately Hotel Del Coronado looks like a setting for "Masterpiece Theatre." It has that lofty look of an important location. Built in 1888 -- the largest wooden structure of its day --
Tourists pause to take a few photos of "the Del" and enjoy the view.
it is know affectionately as "the Del" by legions of fans and return guests around the world. The hotel has history, mystery and a VIP guest list to accentuate its elegance.
A proud landmark of San Diego, the hotel's history is inextricably linked to that of Coronado, referred to as "the island," by natives, but actually connected to mainland California.
When built, the hotel drew attention for its opulence and size.  Designed as a Victorian seaside resort, it was large, impressive, grand.
Marilyn Monroe on the beach at the del
in 1957, filming "Some Like It Hot." 
PLAYGROUND of the rich and famous, the Del has hosted crews and stars for the making of several movies.  The most famous is the 1958 comedy "Some Like It Hot," the Billy Wilder classic.  It starred Marilyn Monroe as the sultry but innocent member of an all-girl touring band. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon masquerade as women to escape the mob and -- suspend disbelief here -- the girls buy that they are female.
The setting is supposed to be Florida, but this southern California landmark stood in.
The Del's opulence includes ornate chandeliers.[
The Del's beauty and allure remain, a century plus.
Frank Baum loved the Hotel Del, here relaxing
with his family on the grounds.
JFK and daughter Caroline checking in.
At left below, the traditional winter ice rink.
Since its opening, "The Del" has been the place to stay for  diplomats, actors, wealthy tourists, military brass. Frank Sinatra joined its centennial celebration in 1988. Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Ernest Hemingway and Burt Lancaster bunked there. In recent years, Ellen DeGeneres, Jack Nicholson and Oprah Winfrey checked in. Guests range from JFK and Ronald Reagan to royalty, inventors and rock stars.
Liberace is said to have been discovered playing piano in the lounge. Frank Baum, author of "The Wizard of Oz," spent months at the hotel, writing and reading to children. He designed the chandeliers still in the Crown Room, basing them on the crown worn by his "Oz" lion.   The Del's most infamous guest is Kate Morgan, who registered under an alias on Thanksgiving in 1892, staying a few days.  She killed herself on the steps near the ocean.  Was she ill?  Heartbroken over an ill-fated romance? Her third-floor room is often requested. People claim to see ghosts and apparitions there and in the gift shop and stairs.

PRICES HAVE gone up since the hotel opened, charging $2.50 for a room, meals included. The hotel cost only $1 million to build with various types of wood, using wooden pegs rather than nails. Today, a room can run upwards from $363 to a plush grand suite for over $1,000.
The property was part of a land grant, originally gifted to a  Mexican family who sold it for thousands. The Blackstone Group  sold its 63 per cent stake in the hotel for $210 million a few years ago.  If you've a yen to get hitched at the Del, and invite 100 friends, figure to spend between $32,000 and $45,000 -- that's for ceremony and reception.
On the National Historic Register since 1977, the Del has become "the talk of the western world" as its founders envisioned.  Elisha Babcock Jr. and Hampton L. Story dreamed that the hotel would become famous. So it has.

Michael Lewis Cusimano and Caitie Grady shine in "Once" at Lamb's
Players. Others in the stand-out cast include Manny Fernandes as Billy.
BEST BET: "Once," at Lambs Players Theater, is a terrific rendition of the popular movie. An unlikely couple finds romance through their mutual love of music. Set in an Irish pub, the always lively Lamb's Theatre company puts its all into creating a believable musical world where destiny may not mean being together forever. Wonderful ensemble work, spirited choreography, fine music and engaging characters make a wonderful theater experience.

The King Tut exhibition at California Science Center in Los Angeles
is a delightful and fascinating trip back in time -- 3,300 years ago.
UP NEXT: A wonderful show of artifacts found in the chamber of King Tut's tomb -- including the mummy of Tut himself -- is at California Science Center in Los Angeles. The marvels of the discovery are shared on the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb in Egypt. Of 150 artifacts, 60 have never been outside Egypt. We take you there -- on a journey into a wealthy, flourishing society of 3,300 years ago. Remember to explore, learn and live and check out whereiscookie each Friday when we post a fresh new look at travel, the arts, nature, family and whatever else strikes our fancy.


  1. San Francisco CelebrantsJune 16, 2018 at 10:40 AM

    What wonderful memories....stayed at the Del as a young girl with my parents.....1960s....have reservation for our anniversary! Thanks for this early gift.

  2. Houston History BuffJune 19, 2018 at 5:29 PM

    Fun place to stay, as we have a dozen times through the years. The restaurant has had its ups and downs and is again first class.

  3. Pacific PalisadersJune 19, 2018 at 9:55 PM

    Long live the Del. She is part of southern California and our great architectural legacy. Good job sharing the story.