Looking for an über-chic hotel in San Diego?

I was in San Diego a week or two ago and rather than just check out Expedia to find a place to stay I contacted a friend at Bailey * Gardiner who arranged for me to get a journalist rate at the Sé San Diego, downtown in the center of urban San Diego, California.
Just as well, too, as even with the special room rate, it cost me over $150 for a single night’s stay. The normal rate would double the tab, but you know what? It was totally worth it and was probably the very nicest place I’ve ever stayed on my travels.


I dug around a bit and found out that the hotel’s quite new: about a year old, and that its odd name has a story. Apparently, when they were busy building it, the hotel was going to be called the Diegan, then Setai was the name of choice, and less than a month before its opening, a legal battle over the name Setai changed it to the Sé San Diego. You can get a hint of the problem when you see on the Setai San Diego site that it disclaims that the Sé has no affiliation with “the Setai Hotel Management Company, The Setai Hotels and Resorts, LLC or any of its entities.”
Originally, the building was the San Diego landmark Jessop & Son’s Jewelry, and when architects Nestor+Gaffner were brought in, they came up with the bold idea of building a 23-story steel tower atop of the facade. The result is a gorgeous Asian-inspired hotel with 184 guest rooms, 3 penthouses and 20,000 feet of meeting space. Want a swim? The pool’s on the roof!
Let me show you a few pics (from their archive, I didn’t take these).
First off, this is the “City View” room I had:

se san diego guest room

Truly beautiful, probably too chic for a jeans-wearing guy like myself, but the staff was gracious and while the hotel had the potential to be snooty, I never felt uncomfortable.
The room was nice, but I have to say that the 900-pound brass door was amazing, this massive inches-thick monstrosity that is on such a well-designed hinge system that I could open it with one hand. Think stylish vault door and you’d be on track. Equally delightful was the lobby, which would be a fabulous place for a rendezvous:
se san diego lobby

The lobby was truly gorgeous and the lobby bar, Suite & Tender, must be one of the trendiest places in town to arrange a tryst or rendezvous, though I wasn’t there long enough to find out. 🙂
I really enjoyed my short stay at the Sé San Diego and would love to stay there again. In a city with hundreds of hotels within a dozen miles of downtown, it’s one of the most beautiful. If style is your thing, if you consider yourself a fashionista, this should be your next destination in San Diego.

4 comments on “Looking for an über-chic hotel in San Diego?

  1. Holy cow that’s a nice hotel. Very comfortable and stylish looking. I stayed at the Amsterdam Hilton last year and I thought that was pretty cool (where John and Yoko did their sleep in). It wasn’t fancy, but it had the cool story.

  2. Thanks for your report on that great hotel! Since I will be in San Diego soon, your information is very worthful for me… Now think I found what I’ve been looking for!! Ok, maybe it isn’t the season for the pool on the roof any more, but as I see the hotel has enough other ‘qualities’… 😉

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