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Despite the writers and possible actors strike, from July 20 to 23, Comic-Con once again is set to take over San Diego with plenty of head-turning cosplay. As the city’s most anticipated event approaches, it has stepped up its culinary and hospitality offerings with a slate of unforgettable places to wine, dine and rest.
Near Comic-Con’s home at the San Diego Convention Center, Bun & Patti (2171 Kettner Blvd.) spotlights burgers like the Smoke Show, made with 14-day dry-aged beef and served with flourishes of smoke under a glass dome, while the jungle-themed Zama (467 Fifth Ave.) offers Latin American cuisine as well as sushi. Elsewhere, Paradisaea (5680 La Jolla Blvd.) in La Jolla offers dishes highlighting locally sourced ingredients and drinks such as the Keys Razor cocktail (with Producer mezcal, honeydew, jalapeño, mint and lime) inspired by the Razor House, the modernist home that Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz bought in the neighborhood in 2019. Down south and not far from the future Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center opening summer 2025, Chula Vista’s Shake & Muddle (303 Third St.) cocktail bar and restaurant serves up a rotating menu inspired by different countries each month — Peru is featured through August and the Philippines is next — alongside drinks such as the signature spicy Ring of Fire (Effen cucumber vodka, chili agave, lemon and lime juices, cucumber and jalapeño with a Tajin rim). Or take a detour to Lemon Grove in East County to sample authentic Italian fare at AnniVenti La Trattoria (8099 Broadway), including its arancini of the day.
At end of day, check into one of these seven fresh hotels:
Kimpton Alma, Downtown
The stylish rooms and lobby featuring Mexican-inspired decor make this new downtown boutique hotel a head-turner. The swanky rooftop restaurant, Leave of Absence, serves flavorful salads and wood-fired pizzas and provides pool access. The views atop the property are spectacular. 1047 Fifth Ave., from $219 a night; more booking options at Stay Alma, Expedia and Hotels.com
Lafayette Hotel & Club, North Park
Located in the North Park neighborhood, The LaFayette Hotel & Club — first opened in 1946 with a pool designed by Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller — has hosted such Hollywood luminaries as Ava Gardner and Bob Hope over the years and its Mississippi Room was where Tom Cruise filmed the karaoke scene in Top Gun, belting out “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” The property has now been completely renovated and reimagined by CH Projects (behind such San Diego restaurants as Morning Glory and Born & Raised), now boasting eight restaurant and bar offerings, a soundtrack created by Swizz Beatz, and 139 richly designed rooms with design details including wallpapered ceilings, burled wood bar carts and fabric draped canopy beds. 2223 El Cajon Blvd., from $299 per night; book online at LaFayette
Margaritaville Hotel San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter
Opening on August 8, the Margaritaville Hotel San Diego in the Gaslamp Quarter will be the hospitality brand’s first urban location on the West Coast. A $30 million renovation of the Hotel Solamar, the property will feature a Southern California-inspired design, what it says is the city’s largest rooftop pool deck and three dining concepts, with live music programming on the way as well. 435 Sixth Ave., from $279 a night; more booking options at Margaritaville and Booking.com
Orli La Jolla
Orli La Jolla is a new hidden gem nestled by the beach that has been crafted over two years by local siblings Hailey and Max Waitt, whose father is billionaire Gateway co-founder Ted Waitt. The two transformed a 1910-era residence by Irving Gill — the father of California modernism — into a 13-room sanctuary that blends the allure of a luxury hotel with the comforts of a homestay. “The dream was to create a new way to stay,” says Max Waitt. “If guests want to experience Orli as a traditional hotel, we’ll tailor their stay that way. Or if they’d like to use our web-based app and build out their stay, they can order flowers from local florists or sweet treats for their kids from the local bakery.” 7753 Draper Ave., rooms from $299; more booking options at Orli and Booking.com
The new Palihotel is a beautifully curated property in the heart of the Gaslamp. Its youthful and modern aesthetic seamlessly blends preppy elegance with nautical-inspired charm. Grab food at the hotel’s French-inspired restaurant or make your way to the guest-exclusive roof deck and bask in some of the best views of the city. 830 Sixth Ave., from $150; more booking options at Palihouse, Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com
Rancho Valencia, Rancho Santa Fe
Asked to name a San Diego hotel beloved by clients, luxury travel agency founders Gen Hershey of Genuine Access and Lauren McWilliams Jones of Solas Travels (both of whom work extensively with entertainment industry names) each give props to Rancho Valencia, which is the only Relais & Chateau property in Southern California. Recently, the resort (which includes 49 luxurious casitas) debuted two new ultra-private residences, the four-bedroom, 4,600-square-foot Spa House (from $7,500 a night) and the five-bedroom, 5,860-square-foot Casa Valencia (from $9,500 a night). “When you arrive, you are in another world, and their on-property team is fantastic,” says Jones, while Hershey calls Rancho Valencia the perfect spot “for a romantic getaway.” 5921 Valencia Circle, from $999; more booking options at Rancho Valencia, Expedia and Hotels.com
Shore House at the Hotel del Coronado
An addition to the legendary Hotel del Coronado (where the Hollywood classic Some Like It Hot was partly filmed), the Shore House offers 75 residential-style accommodations ranging from one to three bedrooms, all adorned in a bright beach house aesthetic. “Each villa feels like coming home to your private beach house,” says Michael Tuesca, director of Shore House, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. 1500 Orange Ave., from $1,150; more booking options at Hotel Del, Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com
A version of this story first appeared in the July 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.