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U.S. Grant: A Historic Landmark

US Grant Hotel
US Grant Hotel
Courtesy photo

Built in 1910, the U.S. Grant is a landmark, and on the National Register of Historic Sites. Thirteen U.S presidents have visited this icon, built by Ulysses S. Grant’s son to honor our country’s 18th president. The hotel was purchased in 2003 by the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians (hold the reservation jokes). The tribe shuttered the property in 2005, spent more than $50 million on a retrofit and re-opened it in 2006.

Today, the hotel is a member of the Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection, and is a mix of old and nouveau. Quirky artwork by Yves Clement crowns beds and hangs in some corridors. The hotel lobby and ground-floor Grant Grill are stunning, with blue-toned accents that play off blue Belgian marble floor tiles—rediscovered during the renovation. Walking through the long, echoing lobby makes you feel like you doing something important—even if you’re just heading out for an urban jog.

I tried to get over one aspect of the décor—but could not. It’s the Persian carpets in the hallways and guest rooms. They’re plush, so your feet sway a bit when you walk on them. It looked like some carpets were water-damaged—until I realized in low light, bent carpet fibers appear shadowy.

The Grant Grill.
Courtesy photo

Appropriately, an affirmation of the owners’ Native American heritage is visible on every floor. As the elevator door opened on the ninth floor, I was greeted reverently by a copper sculpture of a chief with his arms raised to the heavens.

Sleep Here

Many San Diegans are aware of the two bi-floor Presidential Suites. They have top-floor private master bedrooms, and lower-level living and dining rooms. The 11th floor Penthouse Presidential Suite has window views from three sides, and a contemporary bathroom complete with blue glass tile, an infinity soaking tub and stone basins.

My two-room suite was less resplendent, but sufficiently cozy. From an extremely comfortable bed—covered with Italian linens and 300-thread-count sheets—I could look out the window and see Horton Plaza (the grubby side) and portions of the Coronado Bridge.

Something new: Both the bedroom and outer room had a 32-inch flat-screen TV. Something old: An amenity probably dating back to Ulysses S. Grant Jr.’s day—hanging in a closet was an umbrella, a red lint brush and a long shoe horn.

Eat This

The Grant Grill is as gorgeous as its food is delicious. Get a private booth and feel glamorous. The signature mock turtle soup is still on the menu. Diver scallops are presented beautifully. And the pan-seared sea bass melts in your mouth. Both dishes are dusted with house blended custom spices.

I have a test for the sophistication of any bar. Ask for a martini, and then inquire if olives come stuffed with blue cheese. Many servers shake their heads. Some have to check and see. When asked, my smiling server immediately nodded and said, “Of course.” A+.

Do This:

There’s not a whole lot to do inside the hotel. A lounge area at the Grant Grill will soon have DJs on the weekends and jazz during the week. The gym is functional, if not spectacular. There is no spa on property—but in-room services are available, provided by downtown’s Spa Velia. If you need to find some action, The Local and Yardhouse are right across the street, and the throbbing Gaslamp Quarter is just a few blocks away.

By The Way:

Everybody loves the story of the 1969 sit-in by six women who were protesting the men-only-before-3-p.m. rule in the Grant Grill…In-room bathrobes are a striking black color…I scanned the interior of the mini-bar, and it seemed like the sensor kind—if you move an item you bought it. A desk clerk informed me they used to be sensor-driven. But those were deemed “problematic,” and guest complaints led the hotel to switch back to the old-fashioned type.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: (619) 232-3121
  • Name: US Grant
  • Address: 326 Broadway