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For family birthdays, I love booking a little getaway for us to enjoy some time where it is just us. When Kimpton emailed me a special offer good for my birthday month, I jumped at the chance to book our return to the Kimpton Solamar in Downtown San Diego.
Email from the GM
One of the special touches when staying at Kimpton is that the General Manager will send you an email a couple days in advance welcoming you to the property and giving you an update on the property. Something that is really cool is that they also request that you reply with a picture. I got sidetracked and didn’t do it this time, but did when I stayed in the Santa Monica Room Suite at the Hotel Wilshire last year… where they had a nice framed picture of my family waiting for me next to the bed.
Here are some of the highlights of the GM’s email:
- “… recently completed a full renovation of all our 235 guestrooms and look forward to sharing our new design elements that hint upon our city’s early Spanish influence and the casual vibe of modern day San Diego.”
- “… our address rocks. Anchoring the junction between the emerging East Village, historic Gaslamp Quarter, Convention Center and Petco Park—home of the Padres—Hotel Solamar provides a uniquely regal launch pad that’s a few steps from San Diego’s most sought-after destinations. Find 100+ alluring dining and entertainment venues with five blocks of the hotel.”
- “While traveling is exciting, it’s common miss those left at home. We invite you to send us a photo of your loved ones and we will have it waiting in your room when you arrive. Please send the photo as a JPEG attachment to Concierge@HotelSolamar.com along with your name and travel information and we’ll ensure you feel at home with us.“
Location of the Hotel Solamar
The Hotel Solamar is located at 435 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101. As the GM’s message stated, the Kimpton Solamar San Diego is located in the heart of San Diego’s business district and is just a couple blocks away from Petco Field, where the Padres play baseball.
There are numerous dining and entertainment options just a short walk away. And you can always take an Uber or Lyft (use my referral links to earn free credits towards your first ride!) if the walk is too far… or you’ve had a little too much fun and want a quick ride back to the hotel.
Parking at Kimpton Solamar
Parking at Solamar is $45, and valet parking is your only option. Be prepared for that added expense, or search around for lower cost parking, if you can find it.
When we arrived, we valet parked since there weren’t many other options in downtown San Diego on the night of a Padres’ game. Valet parking is $47 a night, reduced to $32 for hybrid vehicles. The first time we visited the Solamar, they offered parking at half-price for hybrid and electric vehicles, but it seems that they’ve reduced that discount.
I did a search using the iPhone app Best Parking and found that we could have found rates $35-40 down the street, but the convenience of parking here with two kids who were asleep and carrying a few bags up to our room was worth the extra amount. And since we have a hybrid vehicle, our discounted parking rate was cheaper than the other locations.
Birthday Month Offer from Kimpton
If you are a Kimpton Karma Rewards member, you should receive an email offering you a birthday month special where you will receive a discount off the normal room rate, plus a special surprise waiting for you upon check-in.
With the birthday month promo code, I saved 20% off the normal rates and was promised a “special surprise” at check-in.
Upgrade options before check-in
A few days prior to check-in, Kimpton usually sends an email offering options to upgrade your reservation. Because I’m an Inner Circle member and will get upgraded on a regular basis, I turned down the options.
Check-in & Kimpton’s Secret Summer Password
We booked with the birthday promotion for our reservation at the Hotel Solamar. We arrived in the evening, after the Wine Hour had ended, so the front desk staff gave us a couple of vouchers good for a glass of wine for each of us from the lounge next to the pool.
I gave the Kimpton Summer Secret Password of “cannonball” and was offered the choice between a free movie rental, two cocktails at the bar, and a continental breakfast at JSix. It was too late to watch movies with the kiddos, and we have a Netflix subscription, so no need for a movie. Between the Welcome Amenity, $10 Raid the Bar, and Wine Hour glasses of wine, we were all set on alcohol. I’ve been wanting to try JSix, so this was a perfect opportunity with the continental breakfast passes.
When we got up to our room, there was nothing special waiting for us as the birthday promotion had promised. And it certainly wasn’t as cool as what the Shorebreak Hotel did for Timmy’s birthday a few months ago.
I went down to the front desk and was told that there was supposed to be a couple of cupcakes waiting for us. She asked if we wanted something sweet in the morning, but I said no. I like cake as much as anybody, but it doesn’t sound that appetizing for breakfast. After I declined that offer, instead, we were offered a $30 room credit for dining at JSix in the morning. Awesome! That $30 dining credit would pair nicely with the continental breakfast vouchers we received as part of the Kimpton Secret Summer Password promotion!
To make things even better, we were also given a coupon for two glasses of bubbly and a complimentary dessert at JSix. We weren’t able to use that offer this time, but we’ll certainly be back and plan to use it then.
As part of my Inner Circle status with Kimpton’s Karma Rewards program, normally we get upgraded to one of the best rooms in the hotel. At the Hotel Solamar, we received an upgrade to a Virtuoso Junior Suite.
The description from the Kimpton website lists many of the great amenities of the Virtuoso Junior Suite:
- 1 King Bed
- 450 sq. ft.
- Enjoy a full-size sofa sleeper separated by sliding cabana doors
- A spacious bathroom with jetted tub
- Luxury Gilchrist & Soames bath amenities
- 55″ LED flat screen TV in living room
- 40″ LED flat screen TV in bedroom
- Fully Stocked Honor Bar
- Free Wi-Fi for Kimpton Karma Rewards Members
- All rooms are non-smoking
When you first walk in, you’re facing the bathroom. The bathroom had very attractive styling with patterned wallpaper and mirrored lighting.
The bathroom was spacious and had a jetted tub. Anna and I talk about using the jetted tubs at the properties we stay at, but we rarely actually do. This time, we made it a point to use the tub while the kids were playing with some of the toys we brought with us, so it was a great opportunity to sneak away for some relaxation. If you have young kids, you totally understand the need to sneak away!
With this being a Junior Suite, the room was divided into two sections, the main living area with an L-shaped couch with a chaise lounger that pulls out into a queen sleeper and a coffee table.
On the coffee table, there was my normal welcome amenity of Reese’s, covered pretzels, and local beers (two Stone Delicious IPAs were chilling on ice for us) on the coffee table.
On the other side of the room is a desk and an armoire that holds the flat panel 40″ TV and the Raid the Bar drinks and snacks. There was plenty of storage if you’re the type to unpack and use the available drawers.
Most times, the mini bar is filled with mini liquors and some beers. At the Solamar, the bottles of tequila, Rum, gin, and wine were bigger. We redeemed the $10 Raid The Bar certificate for a Don Julio Blanco Tequila 375ml, which normally retails for $31.99 at Bevmo ($23.99 with ClubBev). The Kimpton price was $30, but only $20 after the $10 RTB credit. A good addition to our home bar!
Through two floor-to-ceiling, barn-door style frosted glass doors, lies the bedroom. In the bedroom, there is a king bed, closet, and a dresser with a flat screen 55″ TV on top. From our room, 917, there is a view of Petco Park.
The King-sized bed was really comfortable… although the main vent for the A/C blows directly onto the bed. We had the A/C cranked all the way up and didn’t feel much air on the couch, but started to freeze when we went to bed. Brrrrr! It was a simple change of the thermostat to remedy the situation.
The kids sure thought the bed was comfortable. They crashed out in a hurry!
The Pool and Lounge
The pool and gym are located on the 4th floor of the property. There are several cabanas and loungers to relax in while the family goes swimming. The pool deck doubles as an outdoor dining area since the weather in San Diego is near-perfect year-round. There is a good-sized heated pool surrounded by lounge chairs and cabanas and further towards the edge of the terrace are 3 fire pits with plenty of seating. The entire terrace also has a view of Petco Park.
At 9pm, the pool closes, and the pool area turns into a club. The General Manager’s email reminded us about the pool closing down at night. On Sunday afternoons from 12pm to 6pm is the Hotel Solamar Sunday Funday pool party, which they call Club Flamingo. There is a live DJ that is open to the public. However, guests have priority entrance and seating at Club Flamingo and are encouraged to attend.
The gym is decent sized with a mix of free weights, machines, and a cable system. There are some bikes, ellipticals, and stair climbers. I liked that they had a Bosu stability ball and medicine balls to work on your core.
While working out, you have a view of the pool… which is good motivation to do a couple of extra sets before going out to soak up the California sun and splash around in the pool.
On Sunday mornings from 9am to 10am, there is yoga to help you relax and unwind the tension from your body. This yoga session is free to all hotel guests.
Dining at JSix
Each morning, Kimpton properties put out coffee that is free to all guests. At the Kimpton Solamar, you can also add a splash of vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut to make your coffee taste even better.
On the way to breakfast at JSix, Anna stopped for a cup of coffee.
The last time we stayed at the Kimpton Solamar, the JSix Restaurant didn’t have traditional breakfast options for me and my son, Timmy. We asked the front desk for an alternative, and they recommended Brian’s 24, a 24-hour eatery a few blocks down the road. The food was really good, with big portions for a reasonable price.
This time, we wanted to try out JSix since we received the free Continental Breakfasts from the Kimpton Summer Secret Password promotion and the $30 dining credits as part of the Kimpton birthday month special.
In the morning we had the continental breakfast (value of $10-15 each, a savings of at least $60 for the four of us).
When we showed for breakfast and showed our Continental Breakfast coupons, we were told that we’d receive our choice of juice or coffee, a bowl of fruit, and a pastry (but all they had left by mid-morning were mixed berry muffins). The fruit bowl was a mixture of strawberries, cantaloupe, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Scarlett LOVED the variety of fruit and Timmy really enjoyed them too after a little bribery.
We also had the choice of switching our pastries out for anything on the menu. The price would drop to $10 each. I had the pancakes and Timmy had chocolate chip pancakes. Timmy gave them a big two thumbs up!
Anna is a more adventurous eater than us, so had chilaquiles and shared with Scarlett.
Overall, we enjoyed our JSix experience and will definitely consider eating there again the next time we stay at Hotel Solamar.
We enjoyed an excellent weekend in San Diego thanks to an encouraging birthday offer from Kimpton. We have stayed at the Solamar once before, but this experience was the best so far. Getting so many treats, goodies, and upgrades made for a special birthday celebration and the employees treated us very well. If you plan on staying in the San Diego area, definitely consider the Kimpton Hotel Solamar.