Every mom thinks her child is a star, but if rock star dreams are your kid’s fancy (or yours), treat him to a stay at the Hard Rock San Diego. This downtown luxury hotel is best suited to families with older children or teens, who are more likely to enjoy the rock and roll vibe.
Music lovers flock to Hard Rock Hotels for the chance to commune with rock star artifacts: a gown worn by Madonna, a portrait of Jim Morrison and hand written lyrics by the Beatles, along with the electric guitar played by a variety of musicians.
And at the Hard Rock San Diego, you can even join in the fun. When you stay at the Gaslamp District hotel, you can borrow Fender guitars and create your own music. You are even encouraged to sing in the elevators; each elevator features a band, and when the elevators close, the doors have a microphone; you are the lead singer. Of course, music plays in the elevators, too. Rooms have surround sound stereo systems, and you can also borrow an iPad and Nixon headphones and mix your own music.
A rock star of the culinary world, Masaharu Morimoto, has a branch of his sushi restaurant, Nobu, in the hotel.
The Hard Rock also has a casual restaurant, Mary Janes, where I had a delicious, if expensive, quinoa scramble with arugula and eggs over easy. This being southern California, there were also fresh juices and I customized the kale smoothie to eliminate the pineapple (I'm allergic). It was great.
You don’t need to bring your own tunes to the decent sized gym; a giant screen plays music videos, at a reasonable volume. And it wasn’t hard rock: when I was there, I heard Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and John Mayer, among others.
There are treadmills and elliptical machines, with their own screens if you prefer to watch television, free weights, stability balls and a couple of surprisingly ragged yoga mats.
The gym offers a bowl of fresh fruit, plain or fruit infused water and chilled towels.
The Rock Spa
If you gyrate too much with that Fender guitar, you can soothe your muscles at the spa. But you can’t glam up your nails; the spa stopped offering manicures and pedicures. There are also Rhythm and Motion treatments where massage therapists synchronize movements with a special playlist; since the New Age music at a typical spa enrages me, I have to try this.
Getting around town
The Hard Rock has 7 Electra cruiser bikes, perfect for riding along the flat waterfront park and marina behind the convention center across the street. There is also a light rail stop just steps away from the hotel.
You can walk to Petco Park and dozens of restaurants and bars are near the hotel.
The Hard Rock has an outdoor rooftop pool and hot tub, along with bed type lounges. The sybarite experience includes cocktails and light bites from the adjacent outdoor bar, Waves.
I worried that the rock star experience would include loud music thrumming all night, but my room was utterly quiet and completely dark. It was also quite large; a sitting area with a bar and stools, a huge couch and a sleeping area that could be curtained off. This is ideal for a kid sleeping on the couch (they don’t fold out, but a kid can fit; there are also cribs and rollaways).
This might give some families pause. The sink is in an area between the living room and bedroom, with a glass shower room and separate glass toilet room. The glass is frosted but can see a silhouette. And though I loved the rain head shower, with another body shower pray, the open area flooded; there is no shower curtain.
Also, the lighting in the bath area was not conducive to make up application.
The Hard Rock provides bath products by the Rock Spa, cotton balls and Q-tips.
- Gym, with fresh fruit
- Outdoor pool and hot tub
- Electra bikes
- Free coffee in the lobby in the morning (might end too early for true rockers…)
What Works for Families
- The operative word here is fun
- Rock music in elevators
- The mini bar can be used as a refrigerator
- Connecting rooms
What Doesn’t Work for Families
- The shower floods shower room – a second person can’t shower soon after the first, and the floor is slippery
- Glass toilet room door
Note I was a guest of Honda at the Hard Rock, which covered my accommodations. Opinions expressed are my own.