San Diego's first skyscraper, 11 stories tall, rises above Fifth Avenue in historic marble sturdiness. It's no gleaming steel and glass tower, but fits in with the Gaslamp Quater's blend of period architecture. Built in 1913 to house one of San Diego's first banks, it's now a 60-suite hotel on one of downtown's busiest avenues. The lobby has retained its elegance, with Australian gumwood carpentry, marble walls, mirrored ceilings above crystal chandeliers, and etched glass windows. Similar touches add a bit of glamour to the suites, all with kitchenettes including microwave, fridge, dishes, and utensils. Floral swag drapes, art deco patterned rugs, and marble baths reflect the historic ambience, without being fussy. Rooms on the top floors have spectacular views of downtown's skyline; those on lower floors in the back overlook parking lots and drab buildings. A modest continental breakfast is served in the breakfast room, and the rooftop terrace is a good spot for relaxing and hooking into someone else's free Wi-Fi (hint, hint). The Melting Pot restaurant and Vin de Syrah wine bar on the hotel's ground floor are dependable dining choices, but there are so many options nearby that you'll want to explore. Despite heavy windows, noise can be a problem, especially on weekend nights when the surrounding clubs and restaurants are in full swing. Beware of major holidays, as well--the Gaslamp's Mardi Gras celebration is one of the country's largest and the neighborhood is party central for any occasion.
- Frommer's Staff