Nor Cal to San Diego Trip, 2-09 #1

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If you like rock and roll and modern decor you will love the Hard Rock Hotel www.hardrockhotelsd.com/. My husband stayed here for business once (I know what your thinking, ‘what kind of business is he in?’ but the truth is, it was for a convention across the street.) I’m starting to digress…When he was at the Hard Rock Hotel he called to tell me all the little things that make it special (see details he loves below) and how he hoped to bring me back some day.

So here we are, months later, at the Hard Rock Hotel and it is a great way to enjoy downtown San Diego. It helps that our adult daughter lives here so that we can get some insider tips on where to eat. It also helps that regardless of where we eat we enjoy being with her and her boyfriend.

But let me back up a little.

One random tip: if you are traveling and need a place to spend the night (I mean literally just pull off the road and sleep) then use www.Hotwire.com. We knew we were going to be driving down to Southern California and we wanted to get the most of our reservation at the Hard Rock Hotel (more on how we got that later) so we wanted to check in as early as possible but we couldn’t leave Nor Cal in time to make that happen. So we left Sunday afternoon and planned to stay at a cheap place in Orange County so that we could get to the hotel in time to at least park and walk around the Gas Lamp District.

 Lenny went to hotwire.com and picked the Irvine Spectrum area and the star rating (three stars) and paid (he is a bit of a gamlber so he got excited to see what kind of hotel he would end up with). After paying he found out it was Holiday Inn. The price was $58. He then went to www.expedia.com  just to see what that same room would have cost throught that source, it was $114!! He was very excited to have saved so much.

We arrived at the Holiday Inn  around 9:30 PM; they were friendly, helpful, gladly gave us Holiday Inn Priority Club points for our stay, along with two bottles of water and 15 % off card for the restaurant. The room was clean, smoke free and quiet (that is all I require when we just need a place to sleep).

Breakfast the next morning was fine (I was a little disappointed with my buttermilk pancakes but Lenny’s Godfather Omelett was great). The staff everywhere we went was great though. Someone from the kitchen passed by with a cart loaded with jello, juice, fruit and cookies. He offered us some; Lenny took a snickerdoodle and I took a couple of strawberries (one was dipped in chocolate). When he came back through later we asked what the cart was for and why we got some. He said it was for the staff and he just offered us some. Nice touch.

So back to the Hard Rock Hotel. We arrived early (1:00ish instead of 4 pm check in time), it was pouring rain (one down side to this hotel is there is no Portico to drive under for protection while unloading), on the upside though the bellman opened my door and directed me to go on inside, he then unloaded the car and whisked it away for vale parking. This service does cost $30 a day but there are in and out priviledges and each time we asked for the car there was a new chilled bottle of water in the car with a note also pointing out that the windshield had been cleaned. Yes tipping is expected but the ‘free’ bottle of water helps reduce the  pain of that.

Lenny booked this reservation through www.expedia.com, the off season, mid week rate that included a $50 Spa credit was $169 (around $300 directly with the hotel), the upgrade to a suite was $20 more through expedia but closer to $350 directly with hotel.

When we checked in (early) not only did they not make us wait they didn’t even mention that we were early. As we finished up the check-in process the woman asked what type of music we want in our room (Lenny chose alternative) and as the bellman opened the door to our room that music was already playing on the two flat screen TV’s in the room.

The decor is very modern with an interesting use of clouded glass, back and up lighting, glass shelves, chrome, mirrors, leather (or faux leather), music themed art, etc. Did I also mention the $15  charge that covers the wifi in the room, pool and the workout room. We don’t always use the workout room (we always have good intentions) but we do always use the wifi.

We settled into our room and pulled out our laptops (time to catch up on email, facebook and research the location of the place we are meeting our daughter for dinner – mmmm, the menu looks great,  I want to try breakfast and afternoon tea too). Lenny fell asleep on the couch to the sound of  ‘Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations’  on the Travel Channel. The daughter picked a small a cute  french bistro type place a few blocks from our hotel. I was excited about finally getting to try Cafe Chloe www.cafechloe.com/. For more on that read the next blog Nor Cal to San Diego Trip, 2-09 #2.

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