Travel Feature Story

San Diego Rocks

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego brings the beat

Published: Friday, February 13, 2015 | 1:07 AM

The Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego, in the heart of the Gaslamp District.

Rock and roll is a funny concept. At its core it’s rebellious, but for the musicians involved, it’s also an unabashed race for that commercially successful album or tour. It’s the irony of chasing success using the idea of rebellion and revolt. Punk rock was a revolution, but it sold a lot of records.

So it is with the Hard Rock Hotel chain—a blatantly commercial celebration of rebellion, and one that it has managed to package quite well, actually.

As with all the Hard Rock restaurants and hotels, the Hard Rock San Diego is part museum, part hangout, and part boutique hotel. Original rock artifacts from guitars to costumes line the lobby and halls. Rock and roll lyrics decorate the walls by the rooftop pool. Rock on.

The San Diego property is located in the heart of the city’s Gaslamp District, which is a bit like Old Pasadena, but this one goes to 11. There is all-night activity everywhere you look, with the ante upped even more in the spring and summer, when the Padres are in town at Petco Park, which is literally across the street from the hotel.

Fender Strats from room service? Bring it.

There are so many details that the hotel features to make one seem more like a rock star on tour than someone in town for a marketing confab, or an sales expo at the nearby Convention Center. The Hard Rock is about bending many of the hotel “rules” travelers have grown accustomed to.

With the stated mission to “create authentic experiences that rock,” the hotel keeps late hours, and allows you to download your own tuneage from your own phone or device to your room’s audio system, for example.

Need to be more pro-active than that, music-wise? Just rent some DJ gear. It’s available from room service, as are Fender guitars (!).

We loved that aspect of the hotel’s services, and were offered a choice of axes from a catalogue of Fender offerings. We chose a white Stratocaster, which, unfortunately, had trouble staying in tune. No prob, dude. We replaced it with a steel blue Strat, which, when played through a guitar pedal system and cranked through the room audio, sang like the Everly Brothers, and howled like Hendrix.

The rooms themselves are cozy and edgy, sleek and inviting. (Yes, there are “rock star suites” as well.) The wi-fi is free with the hotel’s “all-access pass,” as are the fitness center, the business center, bike rentals, morning coffee and the aforementioned DJ and guitar rentals.

Owing to their rock and roll sensibility, the rooms require some open-mindedness about propriety. The bathroom and shower facilities sit behind frosted glass, on opposite sides of the center of the room, with the sink out in the open.

Rock stars sleep late.

Want a private bathroom for your indelicate moments? Go downstairs to the lobby. Again, that’s rock and roll.

Let’s cut to the next verse, shall we? We were delighted in the hotel’s Nobu sushi restaurant, which served up non-stop (or so it seemed) plates of sashimi hedonism.

The luxury Japanese restaurant’s deftly styled versions of covers and originals—traditional sushi favorites as well as their own creations—coupled with a corner window table to watch the passing Friday evening parade, created a memorable experience in a city we already love visiting.

Whether tourist or fan, whether you play guitar or the radio, the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, is, above all else, a really fun place to visit and stay. The staff is young, friendly, hip and accommodating, even though they are far too youthful to have seen any of the artists on their walls in the day.

That’s okay. A little rock and roll rebellion fits all ages and sizes.

The Hard Rock Hotel San Diego is at 207 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101.
(619) 702-3000.



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