Hotel Review: San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina

San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina

My family is pretty loyal to Marriott hotels, so when we recently visited San Diego we chose to stay at the Marriott Marquis & Marina in the heart of downtown. Overlooking the harbor, the hotel was overall a pleasant experience, but it wasn’t the best Marriott I’ve ever stayed at nor did it knock it out of the park like the Hotel Margherita. I thought I’d share the full honest lowdown on this property, so you consider this option for your next trip to one of my favorite American cities, San Diego.

POSITIVES

Location
If you’re looking for a hotel nestled steps from downtown San Diego attractions, look no further. The biggest highlight of the Marriott, for me, was the location. You can amble over to dinner or drinks in the Gaslamp Quarter, check out the touristy yet cute shopping and restaurants at Seaport Village or simply stroll along the Marina path, taking in the yachts and sunshine. The airport and Pacific Beach are also only 15 minutes or so away, so the location truly can’t be beat.

San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Pool

Reception & Valet Service
Reception and valet were always quick and eager to help, no matter how long the line of customers. They were also very generous with the bottled water, which paired well with my obsession with being hydrated. Check in and check out were seamless.

San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Wish You Were Here

Rooms
Our standard guest room was spacious, airy and bright. We had two double beds (two queens would have been preferred, but cest la vie), a desk station, television and a standard bathroom with a sink and shower tub. The piece de resistance was the stunning view of the pool and marina. Unfortunately, we did not have a room with a balcony, so be sure to request one or at least a view.

Room at San Diego Marriott Marina & MarquisSunglasses (Karen Walker dupe!)// Beach Bag

Dining
Food is my number one priority in life (only half joking), so having plenty of varied and delicious dining options is mucho importante. From the Starbucks in the lobby, to the pool bar to several other restaurants on site, Marriott definitely provided the cuisine variety. We tried Roy’s (an always excellent Hawaiian seafood and steak place), Starbucks every morning (duh), and the pool bar, because who doesn’t need to feast on nachos while sunbathing? Like most hotel food, the food was a bit overpriced, so if you’re wanting to stick to a budget, walk to other dining options in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Poolside Nachos

Pool
The crowning achievement of the Marriott Marquis has to be its gorgeous pool. It’s truly the centerpiece of the hotel and we spent most of our free time here. There are certain cons regarding the pool that I’ll share below, but purely aesthetically speaking, the pool is fabulous and where you want to be at this hotel. Sip a daiquiri, indulge in aforementioned nachos the bar or just kick back and take in some major people watching while soaking up the rays.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetDonut drink holder (Daiquiri not included)

NEGATIVES
I hate focusing on the negatives in life, but in the spirit of honesty and transparency I need to share the WHOLE picture with you – not just the glam, instagram ready bits. Overall our stay was nice, but these aspects below prevented the visit from being 100% enjoyable.

Pool service
As I mentioned, the pool is beautiful, but apparently all of San Diego has found out about it. When you arrive at the hotel, reception gives guests a wristband to wear at the pool to prevent gatecrashing. The problem is no one checks wrist bands at the pool or enforces the “guests only” policy. Pool chairs were very hard to come by and the pool itself was extremely overcrowded due to nonguests taking over. The hotel acts like it wants to address the problem with the wristbands, but there is no follow through, as I think the pool staff wants the food and drink dollars. Unfortunately, this sours the experience for paying guests who can’t enjoy the amenities that they are paying for.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetA whole cluster of chairs that were saved by non hotel guests. Lame.

Crowds
Since the hotel is located in convenient downtown and steps away from the Convention Center, this proximity leads to the property’s greatest drawback – the crowds. Forget a quiet, intimate getaway – the hotel was always packed. Multiple conferences stayed there, several weddings took place and hordes of families had their end of summer vacations. Crowds themselves aren’t always bad, but the hotel wasn’t always suited for dealing with them. Elevators had ten minute waits. The club level lounge ran out of food and tables within minutes of meal times. Having service to your room (ex. asking for extra towels or help with the safe) ended up in a 45 minute wait. Pool chairs were endangered species. As a large hotel in a popular area, Marriott needs to tighten up the service to deal with its swarm of customers.

To not end on entirely negative note, I thought I’d share a few more photos of our stay. If you’re staying downtown, the hotel is a decent choice, as long as you’re prepared for those crowds 😉

Pedicabs at Marriott San Diego

Daiquiri at the pool

How to Have The Perfect Beach Day at Hotel Del Coronado

San Diego has no lack of magnificent beaches. You can day drink all day at Pacific Beach (order a Red Bull vodka slushie for me) or swim with the seals in La Jolla, but my favorite beach during our recent trip  was off the mainland and across the bay on Coronado. Simply brave the treacherous bridge (I couldn’t bear to look out the window), and you’ll arrive at the most picturesque beach community. The crown jewel of Coronado is the historic Hotel Del Coronado, and this red-roofed icon is where we enjoyed my favorite beach day. The Hotel Del can seem like another world reserved just for the uber-wealthy 1%, but I thought I’d share the downlow on how anyone (even little old me!) can spend the day luxuriating at the Hotel Del.

Hotel Del Coronado

Arrive Early
You won’t be the only person escaping to Victorian luxury at the Del, so arrive early to stake out prime beachfront real estate. We arrived around 10:00AM, and were able to claim a perfect spot of sand right near the water. Crowds definitely thickened as the day went on.

Hotel del Coronado

Look for street parking
Like most things at a luxury hotel, parking at Hotel Del is pretty steep. You can easily spend $70+ to park in the official Del lot. Across Orange Avenue, you can find street parking if you’re early, patient, and timing is right. Do a couple of laps around the surrounding side streets before acquiescing to the expensive parking.

The Beach at Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego

Not all beach chairs are created equal
If you’re on a budget, bring your own beach chairs. If, like us, you’re not going to carry beach chairs on a plane or buy chairs you’ll throw away after a day, take advantage of the Hotel Del’s rental service. We spent $20 a chair on two chairs and extra on an umbrella (towels included) right on the shoreline. Service was on point, and I couldn’t resist the signature red umbrellas. If you want to fully lay out and bask in the California sun, rent a striped lounger or cabana, but be aware that you can’t move it closer to shore. Super chic and instagramable options all around. Beach rental services open at 10AM in the summer and are first come, first serve.

Beach Chairs at Hotel del CoronadoThese candy cane loungers sit back closer to the hotel. If you want to sit closer to the water, rent a sand chair.

Douse in SPF
I know wearing sunscreen at the beach seems obvious, but apparently I just had to ignore the obvious and was appropriately punished for it. While I may look unharmed and happy go lucky in these photos, I turned into a ruby red lobster by supper time. San Diego weather can be deceiving, as we experienced a perfect day with temps right around 80. Don’t be fooled! The sun is still very hot and can burn you with a vengeance. Pack a travel sized sunscreen in your carry-on and spray yourself liberally.

Beach day reflections in San DiegoThe reflective aviators are perfect for beach days. And beach selfies!


Wildfox on the beach in San DiegoWildfox makes the best cover-ups. This one is old, but they sell similar options every season with the perfect dose of wanderlust.


And water while you’re at it!
Pack lots of H20 to keep you hydrated in between walks on the beach, mai tais and frolicking in the waves. If you can, bring your own bottles, as the hotel only sells Evian bottles for $6 each. A luxurious touch, but that $6 could go toward a naughty summer cocktail at the beach bar instead!

The Beach Bar at Hotel del CoronadoThe Beach Bar is right across the sidewalk from the beach rental services stand. Drinks include cucumber mint lemonade spiked with gin and blended slushy drinks – plenty that I would want to try. They weren’t selling food at the bar during our visit, even though it says they do on their website, so pack your own snacks.

Validate yourself!
If you’re going to be spending cash on beach rentals or the beach bar, be sure to get your parking validated! You can easily get $40 or more knocked off your parking bill if you show your receipt to the beach bar attendant. Call ahead to reception ((619) 522-8000) to confirm how much you need to spend, but the requirement was $50 spent when we visited.  More importantly, bring your parking ticket with you! You can’t get validated if it’s tossed aside on your car’s dash.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Now on to the important things: What about the food?
We all know that I literally live my life looking forward to my next meal, so I was eager to try the dining offerings at Hotel Del. Near the beach, there are three major options. First, there is a little coffee shop (Babcock Story & Bakery) with lighter fare (think sandwiches and chicken salad), just inside the hotel off the beach. This looked good if you’re in a hurry, but it was always packed and very hot in this area of the hotel. I don’t do sweating, even for food. Second, you can sip margaritas and inhale fish tacos on the Sun Deck. Entrees are around $15-$20, and you sit outside with beach bum approved views. We didn’t try this place, though I wish we had, and ended up opting for the last option: Sheerwater. I wanted to love Sheerwater, I really did. You have sweeping beach views, a gorgeous tiered patio, and an excellent crab BLT. What you don’t get, however, is good service. Our server was slow, forgot several items we ordered, seemed to forget about us several times and was unapologetic about it. The only redeeming service was an awesome bus boy who helped track down our server for us and essentially did his job for him. Skip Sheerwater and stick to the cheaper options. The service wasn’t worth the price. Check out all the dining options here.

Lunch at Sheerwater at Hotel del Coronado
Service may have been meh, but that crab BLT made for excellent #foodporn.

Stay Awhile!
You are at a California landmark, so take the time to have a wander! While the pools aren’t open to the public, you can still traipse about the gorgeously groomed grounds or inside the shops and historic lobby. The woodworking is intricate and beautiful, and you do feel transported to the 19th century. There’s also a gift shop if you want to risk the temptation. I spent a good portion of the day just exploring the picture perfect property and snapping photos. It truly is a special place, and I think the best all around experience for a beach day in San Diego.

Hotel Del Coronado San Deigo

The Beach at Hotel Del Coronado

Linking Up With:

Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Click on the button below to check out more great travel content!

Weekend Wanderlust – hosted by a Brit & a Southerner! Please check out both link parties for more excellent travel content! Thank you!

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Look for Less: Self Portrait Lace Off the Shoulder Top

During our recent trip to San Diego, one night we ventured north to the ritzy seaside town of La Jolla. We opted for dinner at George’s Ocean Terrace, the more casual younger brother to George’s on the Cove, as it came highly recommended from literally everyone on Facebook and Instagram. Sipping on cocktails and nibbling on their perfect stuffed figs, we  dined on the rooftop, perched high on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. While most of San Diego is decidedly beachy and casual, I decided to amp it up and get a little fancy (just love getting my fancypants on!) for dear George.

Outfit at George's in San Diego White Off the Shoulder Top Lace Sleeves

Getting artsy with the George’s sign while we waited for our table. Very fashion. Very ootd.

White Off the shoulder top with crochet sleeves

Buy the top here
Choker was from Claire’s
Bag here

I recently bought this off the shoulder top from SheInside, and it checks all the right boxes. Lacy? Check. Off the shoulder? Check. Show-stopping sleeves? Check and check. Better yet, it’s a bargain and a spot-on dupe for a Self Portrait blouse that’s sold out everywhere. The only flaw? It doesn’t come in every color.

shopbop crochet off the shoulder blouse

The ShopBop version for about $80. Buy here.

Shopbop sells a pricier but still under $100 version, if you’re afraid to order from SheInside. My items took about two weeks to arrive and the quality has been great so far. No complaints, especially for a perfectly feminine and detailed summer top under $20 that I think looks much more expensive. Snag yours before summer’s over and it’s too late!

Look for Less: Bows on Bows in San Diego

Working 9-5 slaving in an office, I’m trapped in conservative soul-sucking business clothing all day and don’t get many opportunities to prance around in cute summer clothes. So you better believe I embraced every opportunity to bare some clavicle and wear every single off the shoulder top I own while on vacation in San Diego.

Blouse // Choker // Bag

Even better than an off the shoulder top? An off the shoulder top paired with a choker. I decided to go full-on bows on bows. This sassy little choker reminds me a lot of an Are You Am I version, so I was happy to scoop it up at a mere fraction of the price. Ain’t nobody got money for a $50 choker.


Blouse // Choker // Bag // Sandals // Shorts // Sunglasses

Every night we relished in the perfect San Diego weather and would explore the nearby marina and Seaport collection of touristy shops and overpriced, yet kitschy restaurants. I also took the opportunity to force my mom to take outfit photos! I am so awkward with these still. I love fashion and want to blog about personal style, but I’m  pretty uncomfortable in front of the camera, and my mom is a saint for putting up with my self-critical direction.  Only thing to get me through a photo shoot? Ice cream!

ice cream cones in san diego

We grabbed two crazy expensive ($17 total!) from Ben & Jerry’s, but they were worth it to satisfy my never-ending sweet tooth.  Also worth it? Taking in the sunset and golden light over the harbor. No one does sunsets quite like Southern California.

Sunset at San Diego Marina

Breakfast on the Beach at Kono’s, Pacific Beach

Sorry for my unexplained blogging absence lately. I’ve been off soaking up the sun in San Diego, one of my favorite cities in the US aka LA but without everything that sucks about LA. Hopefully I can make up for the lack of content with a recommendation for one of the best and most iconic spots in said fave city. Did I mention it’s super cheap and right on the water? Join me for grade-A people watching and major food porn at San Diego favorite, Kono’s!

On our first morning in San Diego, after sleeping in and playing Pokemon Go until about 9, my parents and I grabbed some much needed iced coffees and made our way north to Pacific Beach from our hotel downtown. (Pro tip – downtown is a great, centrally located  headquarters for your next SD trip). Through obsessive Yelp review-checking, I had found Kono’s and knew I had to try the local-favored haunt.

Kono's Pacific Beach

Kono’s is situated literally right on the beach where Garnet meets the boardwalk. Even at 10AM the sand was starting to teem with beachgoers and the typical SoCal scene – surfers conquering the waves, yoga moms out for their morning run, and hungover bachelor parties searching for hair of the dog. This bustling beach, while entertaining, also meant a line had already formed, blocking us from our breakfast feast. We had forgotten brunch commandment number one – if you go to brunch on a Sunday, be prepared to wait.

The line at Kono's on Pacific Beach

Pro-tip: Arrive early to find street parking. We lucked out and found a spot a block over, but the beach parking can go fast on weekends. Be prepared to take your time to find a spot, walk from further away, or take an Uber to avoid parking altogether.

Luckily, Kono’s sells coffee near the end of the line, so you can feed your caffeine addiction and take in the San Diego sights while you wait.

Kono's Coffee pacific beach

Pacific Beach, San Diego

The shop across the way had some signs perfect for my inner mermaid. They’ll go nicely in my future beach house.

Beach House Signs in Pacific Beach San Diego

I also used the wait to take a selfie and artsy shots of the California flag. My teenaged obsession with Laguna Beach and The OC was out in full force.

selfie at Konos Cafe Pacific Beach

Blouse
Crochet Shorts (similar)
Sandals

California Flag on Pacific Beach

We finally rounded the corner into the restaurant and were greeted with a surfer or wannabe surfer’s paradise. If you are in a hurry, grab a table inside. There were plenty open during prime brunch rush hour.

Kono's Pacific Beach in San Diego

Kono's Pacific Beach in San Diego

Feeling instantly transported to a 1970s bohemian surfer bungalow, I was lovestruck.

Kono's Pacific Beach in San Diego

Instead of opting for a table in this Beach Boy heaven, we decided to stake out a spot overlooking the sea. Just head across the street and around the aforementioned souvenir store, and you’ll find the world’s best breakfast nook.

Breakfast at Kono's in Pacific Beach

Pro Tip: Have someone from your party wait for a table while you wait in line to order. They are a hotter commodity than beachfront property!

Breakfast at Kono's in Pacific Beach

Grey yet warm, the overcast haze enveloped us as we watched the surfers roll over the waves, like clumsy Jesuses walking on water. Finally, the main event arrived.

Breakfast at Konos in San Diego

Not one for a sweet wake-up call, I opted for the savory scramble and famous Kono’s potatoes – mixed with cheese and peppers. Really, what doesn’t taste better mixed with cheese and peppers? If you prefer more of a dessert vibe for breakfast, get the French toast. My mom devoured hers.

Breakfast at Kono's in San DiegoBlouse
Purse
Sunglasses

Not only were my taste buds fully satisfied, but my wallet also was quite satiated. Most options at Kono’s will cost you less than $8.00, and there is more than enough food for one ravenous adult.

Breakfast at Konos in San Diego

Pro-tip: Save even more money and split an entree with a friend. I had more than half my food left at the end of my meal, and I’m by no means a dainty eater.

Fully content and not yet sunburned, we wandered the beach to walk off our scrambles and French toast. The next time you’re in San Diego, Kono’s is a must. Cheap, delicious and quintessential Southern California cool – you won’t be disappointed.

Pacific Beach San Diego

Linking Up With:

Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Click on the button below to check out more great travel content!

Weekend Wanderlust – hosted by a Brit & a Southerner! Please check out both link parties for more excellent travel content! Thank you!

Wanderful Wednesday

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