Lafayette Hotel & Bungalows, San Diego, California
Hearkening back to its Hollywood roots, the lobby of the Lafayette welcomes guests in style. © GTH & Nathan DePetris
Hillcrest is the undisputed capitol of gay life in San Diego. With more restaurants, bars, and clubs than any other area, the heart of the action revolves around Hillcrest. For visitors to this iconic destination, however, there are few good hotels options nearby. Luckily, a queen from the past was resurrected to become one of the most sought-after and happening spots in the area to lay your head down for the night.
While technically not in the gayborhood the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows has been quite welcoming to the LGBT community. Guests staying at the hotel are just a short drive to the heart of Hillcrest and the center of the action. After a night of booty shaking, there are more than enough reasons to spend the day lounging at this colorful retreat hotel.
Opened in 1946 and named the Imig Manor, the resort became a hit with the Hollywood crowd and a celebrity hideaway. Hollywood’s most powerful men and women (names like Bob Hope and Ava Gardner) could get away from the madhouse of Los Angeles by escaping studio life down in San Diego. In just few hours they could be sitting poolside, soaking up all the luxury that the hotel offered.
Decorated with handmade terrazzo tiles, the pool at the Lafayette was designed and built by Tarzan himself, Johnny Weismuller. © GTH & Nathan DePetris
Talking about the pool really is the way to start any conversation about The Lafayette, as it is truly the centerpiece of the resort. Designed and built by Tarzan himself (Johnny Weismuller) the Lafayette is decorated with handmade terrazzo tiles and boasted one of the largest pool decks in its day. This cool retreat is still as much the beating heart of the Lafayette today as it was in its Hollywood heyday years. Today, weekend pool parties attract the young and the beautiful of San Diego to soak up the warm California sunshine. The pool also plays the part of a fun movie theater with Dive-in-Movies taking over Friday nights during the summer offering guests the chance to see some of their favorite films under the stars.
Rooms and Suites
Guests staying Poolside Suites enjoy views of the heart of the Lafayette, its pool. © GTH & Nathan DePetris
Guests at the Lafayette get to choose from four room categories, making finding the perfect home away from home that much easier. Two of the categories are truly unique to the Lafayette.
The Bungalows are a different kind of San Diego retreat. Each of the seven, two-story, 2 or 3 bedroom rental homes has a unique name echoing the retro allure and modern amenities housed inside. Custom interiors boast full size refrigerators, 42” living room LCD TV’s, private entrances and more; these spaces are perfect for boys or girls weekends, families, or any other reason to have a large group of friends or family hang together in one place and celebrate.
Poolside Suites beckon guests to bring the outside inside. Each of the large airy rooms have French doors that open directly onto the pool deck or onto a large balcony overlooking the pool. Warm color palettes, comfortable furnishings, and two queen beds in each suite means that up to four people can relax and enjoy the vibrant retro-styled guest rooms. These rooms convey the quintessential love of sun and sky that are so much a part of Southern California living.
Dining and Amenities
Unique design elements can be found throughout the Lafayette, such as this patio inspired seating area. © GTH & Nathan DePetris
Located in the lobby, the onsite restaurant Imig’s Kitchen & Bar serves classic American cuisine. Wonderful dishes like Braised Pork Sourdough sliders, House-made Kennebec Potato Chips and New Zealand Lamb Lollipops are paired with creative cocktails found nowhere else, in a space filled with so much reclaimed wood and antiques glass that even the hippest of the hip would feel at home. This rustic aesthetic blends seamlessly with the Classic Hollywood feel that the building exudes.
Pet lovers who can’t bear to leave Fido at home can also rest at ease. While the hotel only accepts service dogs on premises, man’s best friend is welcome right next door at the Bark Boulevard Pet Hotel and Activity Center.
Located in North Park and University Heights, the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows offer gay travelers the best combination of retro-chic, California laid back attitude and the perfect location for a fun filled San Diego vacation. This historic, well situated, and stylish property is well suited to any wanting to escape to sunny Southern California.
Stately columns adorn the entrance to the Lafayette Hotel, a reminder of its Hollywood glamour days. © GTH & Nathan DePetris
If You Go:
A portion of this review’s underlying trip was hosted by the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows. My opinions, however, are my own, and I was not paid to express any bias for or against this product or destination.