Review: US Grant Hotel San Diego

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.

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US Grant San Diego exterior

The hotel did a phenomenal job with their renovation, as I found the lobby to be stunning.

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US Grant San Diego lobby

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US Grant San Diego lobby

The lobby has tons of cozy sitting areas.

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US Grant San Diego lobby

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US Grant San Diego lobby

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.

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US Grant San Diego elevators

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.

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US Grant San Diego lobby

Up on the eighth floor the hotel’s excellent renovation worked continue. I’m so impressed by the design.

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US Grant San Diego hallway

Our room was just to the side of the elevators, right in front of the set of stairs. We were in suite 802.

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US Grant San Diego room exterior

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US Grant San Diego floorplan

The suite was gorgeous. It featured a large living room with an “L” shaped couch and a chair facing a wall-mounted TV.

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US Grant San Diego suite living room

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US Grant San Diego suite living room

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US Grant San Diego suite living room

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.

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US Grant San Diego suite living room desk

Back near the entrance was a cool console with several doors that could be opened.

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US Grant San Diego suite living room console

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.

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US Grant San Diego suite fridge

Then there was a coffee machine, a kettle, and some bottled water in the compartment above that.

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US Grant San Diego in-room coffee and water

There was a hallway separating the living room from the bedroom, and that’s also where the bathroom was located.

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US Grant San Diego suite hallway

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.).

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US Grant San Diego suite bathroom

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US Grant San Diego suite bathroom

While the shower was fine, it also wasn’t especially luxurious, as it just had a pretty basic showerhead.

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US Grant San Diego suite bathroom

Toiletries were provided by Elemis, and were nice.

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US Grant San Diego Elemis toiletries

The bedroom was spacious as well, and featured an extremely comfortable king size bed, both in terms of the bedding and mattress.

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US Grant San Diego suite bedroom

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US Grant San Diego suite bedroom

There was a chair in the corner of the bedroom, and a console across from the bed with a wall mounted TV.

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US Grant San Diego suite bedroom

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US Grant San Diego suite bedroom

The suite faced the nearby street, with the two wings of the hotel visible as well.

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US Grant San Diego suite view

A few hours after checking in we were given a lovely welcome amenity of cheese, sparkling water, and sauvignon blanc.

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US Grant San Diego welcome amenity

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.

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US Grant San Diego complimentary coffee & tea

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.

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US Grant San Diego Grant Grill

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US Grant San Diego Grant Grill

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US Grant San Diego Grant Grill

Since we were having breakfast on a Sunday morning, they were serving brunch. The menu read as follows:

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I had some orange juice to start (which they claimed was freshly squeezed, though I have my doubts).

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US Grant San Diego breakfast — orange juice

We shared a yogurt parfait to start, which was as delicious as it was beautiful.

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US Grant San Diego breakfast — yogurt parfait

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.

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US Grant San Diego breakfast — omelet

Tiffany had the quiche.

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US Grant San Diego breakfast — roasted cauliflower quiche

Tiffany’s husband had two eggs sunny side up.

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US Grant San Diego breakfast — the Grant Breakfast

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.

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US Grant San Diego gym

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US Grant San Diego gym

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US Grant San Diego gym

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US Grant San Diego gym

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US Grant San Diego gym

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).

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Comments

  1. @Lucky: Typo – I think you meant to say butternut squash (not butternut and squash). Did you ever write a post about how you stay healthy despite regular restaurant meals?

  2. This hotel can also be booked with a Virtuoso rate. The benefits seem almost identical to the Starwood Luxury Privilege benefits though. It’s a very nice hotel but the lack of pool really kills it for me. I love spending some time at the pools in San Diego. The Andaz, while small, has a nice pool deck, as well as the Kimpton and Palomar, just down the street.

  3. Thanks for the mention here. The US Grant is one of the most searched for haunted hotels in the US with a lot of history behind it. If you ever have any experiences at the US Grant or a story to tell, we’d love to hear it.

  4. When in San Diego (which is very often) I’m either at the US Grant, Sheraton Mission Valley, Sheraton Marina or the Hilton Bay Front. I grew up in San Diego and watched the area around the US Grant change, back in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s right across the street before Horton Plaza became what it is today, was a big wasteland and street people, pimps, prostitutes and drug dealer hung out. I like what the area has become, prices so vary, I can get rooms at the Sheraton Maria for $99/n as well as Mission Valley Sheraton, the price for the US Grant and Hilton Bay Front are close to each other. Lucky when you wrote the price doesn’t change much, I think you need to rethink that, because it does, in the summer months, I can’t get rooms at the Sheraton Maria for $99/n they go for $200/n.

  5. Hey remember that time you spent $300 for a Sheraton in Kuwait instead of 5,000 SPG for the JW Marriott?

  6. I wish I would have remembered the luxury booking here. My gf and I staycation all the time in the Sheraton Harbor SD, and a couple of weeks ago we stayed in suite 801 (the floorplan of which oddly looks nothing like 802), for about the same price, but I would have welcomed the credits. Live and learn and I won’t forget that again!

  7. When I stayed there I loved the decor of the hotel but the soundproofing from the outside noise was horrible due to the windows. I was up all night!

  8. Well the “street” you have there is really Horton Plaza, which is also where the outdoor ice skating rink is when it’s around the holidays.

    Love the review in general and I do agree that the Grant Grill is a bit out of step for San Diego. The mismatch of modern metal chairs and the other tables that have upholstered seats seems weird too. I suppose it works for the out of town wealthy tourists that spend a night or two in the city.

    And random fun fact – my senior prom was supposed to be there but then the Sycuan Band of Kumayaay (the then new owners of the hotel) decided to renovate the place (their last renovation in 2005/2006). I would have loved prom at the US Grant, but sadly we had to be moved to the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Would have been nice to support a local (and now rich) tribe of native Americans than the stodgy Doug Manchester.

  9. Lucky, you might check out the Marriott Marquis next time. I’ve tried most of the major San Diego properties and it’s my favorite.

  10. Sadly Gaslamp has suffered of late and smells like sunbaked homeless urine. There are still nice things to do and nice places to eat and stay, but the area is worse than Seattle now, particularly at night. I love the US Grant, but it’s hard to get motivated to go down there anymore.

  11. I booked this hotel last summer through visa signiture and they refuse to offer me the benefits which visa signiture should have and I called the vs concierge for help. VS tried to reach the hotel and they still not willing to offer me these benefits. It was the worst experience I have ever booked throuth VS hotel collection

  12. AmEx FHR also covers this property and identical benefits. When I stayed about a year ago – amazing service, food and benefits (for SPG, even Gold at the time.). The wifi I recall working well then (as I had work to do.)

  13. hi every one I booked sheraton on the park sydney 16/4/2017 and did not get upgraded they told me it was full, lounge was great room was small, at 7pm I went on my laptop to see if I could get a suite or executive room, no problem at all, then I rang the hotel on my mobile, I was then connected to Irland UK a gentleman called Morris, and I asked him for the same, he said they were available, he said I could have executive/club room for $399 and suites were also available, he also gave me his I/D/ number to ring him up if I wanted to accept the offer. As I am a SPG Platinum member, I expected what I also get at Marriott,I also stay at Pier one Autograph or Marriott circular key Sydney, and also get upgraded. So could you advise me is this what you get from SPG? I have never experienced this at Marriott. It was our first experience with SPG and I am a little dissapointed.

  14. Our stay was fantastic Robert and Brooks made our stay the best we ever had and your location is great for someone out of town it is close to everything there may be newer hotels but for me they don’t hold a candle to the US Grant .

  15. Hello, I am a lifetime Platinum. I had 4 stays in this hotel. One great stay after my first stay with the Valet calling my wife basically a nice rental for the night. The stay was so bad with service and after complaining, the manager said if I don’t like it don’t come back.
    Stuck up hotel, and no service with same pricing paid for a room during renovations.
    Not a recommended hotel, puts a great show on until there is an issue.

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