Ford and I recently spent the weekend in San Diego visiting Tiffany and her husband. I’ve reviewed quite a few hotels in San Diego, including the Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Sheraton, and W (which is now a Renaissance). San Diego isn’t a terribly exciting hotel market. What I’ve noticed over the years is that there’s very little variability in rates across hotels.
While other cities will have 4-5 star hotels ranging in price from $150-1,000, the San Diego market just doesn’t seem to be able to command a premium for luxury hotels. So there’s not much variability in terms of cost or quality among those hotels.
One hotel I’ve stayed at probably five or so times over the years is the US Grant, which is a Starwood Luxury Collection property. I reviewed it eons ago, but haven’t reviewed it for my past several stays. However, the hotel recently underwent a renovation, and I was really impressed by the work they did, so figured an updated review would be helpful.
The US Grant can be booked through the Starwood Luxury Privileges program, which comes with the following perks:
- One 100 USD food and beverage credit per room, per stay
- Daily full breakfast for two guests
- Complimentary standard in-room internet access
- Upgrade on arrival, early check-in and late check-out which are all subject to availability
The cool thing is that these perks apply even for a one night booking. Our one night stay cost $240, and for that we got a $100 food & beverage credit and a $75 breakfast credit. This is a Category 5 SPG property, so I considered that to be a better value than paying 12,000 Starpoints.
The US Grant has a great location in the heart of San Diego, and is near many of the other major chain hotels. The exterior of the hotel certainly looks… historic.
The hotel did a phenomenal job with their renovation, as I found the lobby to be stunning.
The lobby has tons of cozy sitting areas.
The check-in process was quick (almost too quick), and within about a minute we had a key to our suite on the eighth floor. The elevators are located at the far end of the lobby.
Fun fact — the hotel is named after Ulysses S. Grant, and is allegedly haunted. As someone who doesn’t necessarily believe in ghosts but is also scared of just about everything, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this crosses my mind every time I stay here. See this page for the history of the hotel’s haunting, and about how the ghost of Fannie Chaffee Grant is often seen roaming the halls.
Up on the eighth floor the hotel’s excellent renovation worked continue. I’m so impressed by the design.
Our room was just to the side of the elevators, right in front of the set of stairs. We were in suite 802.
The suite was gorgeous. It featured a large living room with an “L” shaped couch and a chair facing a wall-mounted TV.
I was slightly annoyed, however, by the desk setup. The desk chair didn’t even have armrests of any sort, which seems highly impractical for working. Unfortunately wifi in the hotel is also excruciatingly slow. I’m not sure if it’s due to how old the building is or what, but it’s inexcusable how slow the wifi is.
Back near the entrance was a cool console with several doors that could be opened.
At the bottom was a mini-fridge. That’s right, the hotel has empty mini-fridges rather than minibars, which is pretty rare at luxury hotels.
Then there was a coffee machine, a kettle, and some bottled water in the compartment above that.
There was a hallway separating the living room from the bedroom, and that’s also where the bathroom was located.
There was a sink, toilet, and walk-in shower. The bathroom was pretty standard, more what I’d expect in a standard room than a suite (typically in a suite you have double sinks, a tub, etc.).
While the shower was fine, it also wasn’t especially luxurious, as it just had a pretty basic showerhead.
Toiletries were provided by Elemis, and were nice.
The bedroom was spacious as well, and featured an extremely comfortable king size bed, both in terms of the bedding and mattress.
There was a chair in the corner of the bedroom, and a console across from the bed with a wall mounted TV.
The suite faced the nearby street, with the two wings of the hotel visible as well.
A few hours after checking in we were given a lovely welcome amenity of cheese, sparkling water, and sauvignon blanc.
Overall I thought the room was lovely. I think the US Grant did a really tasteful renovation, and to me the hotel felt very much like a St. Regis. A while ago Nick wrote a review of the renovation at the Fairmont Seattle, which is an example of a classic hotel that didn’t seem to be renovated very tastefully.
We spent most of our day out and about, and got a great (ghost-less) night of sleep. The next morning I was happy to see that the hotel had complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby. While breakfast was included, personally I always prefer having a couple of cups of coffee first, and having breakfast later in the morning.
Then we had breakfast later on with Tiffany and her husband. The hotel’s restaurant is the Grant Grill, which is a top notch restaurant. I’ve eaten there many times before and always enjoyed it. Even though we had the credit, this time around we decided to have Mexican food for dinner outside the hotel. That meant we had a $175 breakfast credit.
Grant Grill is a nice enough restaurant physically. It blends into the hotel well, though does feel a bit out of place in San Diego.
Since we were having breakfast on a Sunday morning, they were serving brunch. The menu read as follows:
I had some orange juice to start (which they claimed was freshly squeezed, though I have my doubts).
We shared a yogurt parfait to start, which was as delicious as it was beautiful.
For the main course I had the omelet, which had butternut and squash in it. It was served with a side of very tasty breakfast potatoes.
Tiffany had the quiche.
Tiffany’s husband had two eggs sunny side up.
The hotel has a gym on the basement level, one floor below the lobby. This is also where much of the conference space is. The gym is basic but sufficient.
The hotel doesn’t have a pool, which I imagine is something that people with kids who are vacationing in SoCal will want to make note of. Personally I’m not someone who really ever goes swimming, so I can’t say it bothers me.
US Grant San Diego bottom line
We had a fantastic stay at the US Grant. This hotel is such a good value, especially if making a short stay on a Luxury Privileges rate. The hotel did a phenomenal job with the renovation and I find that the Platinum recognition is consistently excellent, though the very slow wifi is a major point of frustration for me. If you can deal with the slow wifi and lack of a pool, I think this is the best pick in San Diego (however, the wifi is a real problem for me, so I’ll likely stay somewhere else next time).