Hotel del Coronado (1500 Orange Ave., 800/468-3533, www.hoteldel.com , $500) dominates the landscape of Coronado Island. Even in Southern California, the Del, as it’s called by its friends and neighbors, wins a prize for grandiosity.
The white-painted, red-roofed mammoth sprawls for acres from the beach to the road, taking up a couple of blocks all its own. Inside, the Del is at once a historical museum, shopping mall, food court, and, oh yeah, it’s a hotel too!
Famously haunted, the Del offers almost 700 rooms, plus another 70-plus individual cottages at Beach Village. Your best bet to catch a ghost in action is to book a room in the Victorian Building. For a more modern hotel experience, stay in the Ocean Towers or California Cabanas.
Room sizes and decor vary, from smaller Victorian-decorated guest rooms to expansive resort-themed suites. Pick what you (and your budget) like best! If you want a view, be aware that ocean-facing rooms cost extra.
The best thing about staying at the Del is that you almost never have to leave. You can fall out of the hotel onto Coronado Beach , grabbing a spot early on this oft-crowded strip of sand in the summertime. In the winter, the hotel puts up an improbable ice rink out on the “back porch.” You can pick from among several restaurant (or room service) for meals, and even shop for a new bikini in the downstairs of the main building.
For a luxury-oriented longer stay on Coronado Island, rent a true condo at the Coronado Beach Resort (1415 Ocean Ave., 877/477-7368, www.coronadobeachresort.com , $250–475). Studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units all have full kitchens (most with dishwashers) with plenty of pots and pans to help you cook your own meals as you gaze out over the beach and ocean below you. You’ll eat, live, and sleep in subdued tropical-themed decor, with high-class amenities surrounding you.
Head up to the roof to enjoy the spa-with-a-view, or over to Loew’s to take a dip in one of their three pools or many sports facilities. If you fancy a day at the beach with your family, just call down to the desk to gather up an array of beach chairs and toys, plus the all-important boogie boards. Also nearby you can access all of downtown Coronado, with its restaurants and boutiques.