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Guide to San Diego Hotel Piano Bars

These hotels have talented musicians tickling the ivories

  • San Diego Hotel Piano Bars
  • Inn at the Park
  • La Valencia's Sala Lobby Lounge
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Musical entertainment in San Diego has made leaps and bounds within the past decade. Aficionados may claim the contrary, but most genres are represented at our ubiquitous nightclubs and bars throughout the city. Take piano playing for instance. Looking for classical? The Symphony. Dueling pianos? Shout House bar. Even the hotels have talented musicians who manipulate the “88 black and whites” into pleasing tones. Following are a few.

The Plaza Bar
The Westgate Hotel, 1055 Second Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 238-1818
Elegance personified. Antiquities from this and that dynasty fill the Four Diamond hotel. One of the first five Steinways manufactured by the company sits in the Grand Lobby, but it’s a modern day Yamaha pianist Larry White plays on Tuesday nights in The Plaza Bar. Only 25 to 30 people fit in the intimate setting that also hosts European sensation Gregory Page on Saturday evenings and Spanish native Deborah Galan Fridays. Bartender Sebastian specializes in artsy cocktails served in fish bowls with fresh fruit and Mr. Smith’s Granny Smith prepared with homemade apple gin, arugula blossoms, vanilla vodka and ginger ale. He and White perform their individual talents in the above video. (Room rates start at $156 per night. Piano bar hours: Sunday through Tuesday 7p.m., Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 9 p.m.)

Inn at the Park Restaurant & Piano Bar
Inn at the Park, 525 Spruce Street, San Diego, CA 92103, (619) 296-0057
1n 1926 a coveted piece of land on the western edge of Balboa Park was converted into a hotel by Frank P. Allen, Jr., who had designed buildings and landscaping for San Diego’s Panama California Exposition more than a decade earlier. The historic building not only remains today, but is thriving in the vibrant Hillcrest community. Formerly Park Manor Suites, it’s recent purchase resulted in the current name. But, the stellar entertainment remains the same. Voted “Best Piano Bar 2009”, the steady stream of local celebrities continue to wow the crowd five nights a week. Cajun jazz, cabaret-style singing, and keyboard/ baritone duos perform unabashed, cracking one-liners and engaging the audience. The Park Punch cocktails flow like rain ---Absolute Ruby Red Vodka, Malibu Rum, mango puree and pineapple juice. Yikes…can you sayhangover?? (Room rates start at $199 per night. Piano Bar hours: Wednesday through Sunday 7 p.m.)

Albie’s Beef Inn
Travelodge, 1201 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA 92108, (619) 291-1103
David Timothy Smith has been tickling Albie’s ivories for 12 years. Wednesday has been dubbed Jam Night due to the influx of regulars who bring their instruments and play along with Smith. His selections are a wonderful jumble of Frank Sinatra, Elton John Beatles, jazz and anything else listeners request. His counterpart, Rose Winters, who plays Tuesday, Friday and Saturday is more contemporary. Lady Gaga, Prince, and rock tunes emanate from her piano, which sits in a dimly lit bar with paintings of voluptuous Rubenesque nude ladies hung on the walls. The 1960’s décor remains the same, as does the friendly “everybody knows your name” atmosphere and great food. (Room rates start at $94 per night. Piano bar hours: Tuesday through Thursday 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. )

La Sala Lobby Lounge
La Valencia Hotel, 1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037, (858) 454-0771
Tapas, tunes and Tanqueray tinis are Wednesday night staples at the cozy lounge off Valencia’s main lobby. Jazz performer Rick Ross’ talents transcend the piano with the addition of vocals and saxophone solos. The living room venue allows enough space for locals and vacationing enthusiast to boogie to the tempo. Couches, cushy chairs and views of La Jolla Cove complete the perfect evening. (Room rates start at $285 per night. Piano bar hours: Wednesday 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)

Red Fox
Lafayette Hotel, 2223 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego,. CA 92104, (619) 297-1313
Schmaltzy music lovers yearning for yesteryear will love this musty piano bar and restaurant. It’s burgundy vinyl booths are full most evenings as sexagenarian Paul Gregg pounds out easy-listening melodies accompanied by one or two horn players. Singalongs ensue with neighborhood regulars at the mic. Four dollar well-drinks fuel the choral bravado. Hearty American food served into the wee-hours squelch voracious appetites. (Room rates start at $99 per night. Piano bar hours (approximately): Monday and Tuesday 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.)