Built in 1946, the red brick, Southern Colonial style, four-story edifice makes a bold statement with its grand entrance in the midst of four towering white pillars flanked by palm trees. The beneficiary of a multimillion dollar historical renovation, the lavishly retro design of the hotel earned a 2014 Design Excellence Award for the interior designer. The lobby with its blue, melon, and earth tones color palette, sparkling chandelier, black and white Old Hollywood mural, and velvety soft tufted furnishings sets the tone for throwback elegance.
The Lafayette’s lobby opens onto a whimsical sunroom with comfy, less formal seating including painted Colonial rocking chairs and other retro furnishings under a ceiling of suspended upside-down pastel umbrellas. A wall of French doors opens onto a wide veranda overlooking the Olympic-size pool, a leisurely place to observe the hotel’s social hub from a distance. Fans of Old Hollywood will appreciate the hotel’s ambiance, and look past a few retro features that might challenge others. Don’t expect the serious sophistication of a Downtown hotel, but the Lafayette definitely fits with the trendy hipster culture of North Park.
Rooms and Suites
The Lafayette’s 131 rooms come in four categories – bungalows, manor rooms, poolside rooms, and Suze suites. The bungalow and suite accommodations are like something you won’t find at any other San Diego hotel. If you like the concept of home away from home, make one of those your choice.
There are seven bungalows at the Lafayette, each different from the others. They are two-story, two or three bedroom vacation rentals that reflect the charm of the 1940s. Original wood floors and moldings have been redone, kitchen floors reclaimed, and walls painted with vibrant colors. Patterned wallpaper, curtains, and upholstery add retro pizzazz. Modern amenities include LCD televisions with cable TV and Showtime in the living room and bedroom, free wireless Internet, an iPod dock, USB charging ports, laptop safe, a private entrance, and all the niceties you’d expect from an upscale hotel.
Manor guestrooms and suites are furnished with either a single king bed or two queen beds. The décor is vintage-modern with tan walls, boldly patterned wallpaper, richly colored drapes and furnishings, earth toned carpet, and bright white bed dressing. Bathrooms are tiled with retro fixtures and plush towels. Room amenities include an LCD television with cable TV and Showtime, free wireless Internet, an iPod dock, USB charging ports, and a laptop safe.
Poolside suites have pale blue walls, retro furnishings, earth toned carpet and vintage patterned drapes, and bright white bed dressing with patterned accent pillows. Framed historic photos and wood rocking chairs add to the ambiance. Room amenities include two queen size beds, an LCD television with cable and Showtime, free wireless Internet, iPod dock, two USB charging ports, and a laptop safe, along with the same upscale niceties as the other rooms. Each poolside accommodation has French doors that open onto either a balcony or a patio facing the 25-meter luxury Weissmuller Pool lined with chaise lounges.
Suze family suites have the same great retro style as other Lafayette accommodations. The bedroom has light blue walls, a California King bed, and flat-screen television; it is separated from the kiddos room by French doors. Tan walls, blue carpet, a large wall blackboard, a bunk bed with a double on the bottom and single on the top, and a small dining set with retro chairs complete the space. Other suite amenities include a second LCD television with cable and Showtime, two bathrooms, a small refrigerator, microwave, free wireless Internet, iPod dock, two USB charging ports, and a laptop safe.
Lafayette Hotel is a popular place with the local young professional crowd, especially on the weekend. There are daytime events at the historic Weissmuller Pool, the social hub of the hotel, and happy hour and evening activities at Hope 46, The Red Fox Room, and Finest City Improv. North Park has a bustling nightlife, and Lafayette has gained the favor of the culturally diverse and hip community to remain in the mix.
Hope 46, Lafayette’s main restaurant, serves classic American cuisine in a relaxed setting overlooking the hotel’s historic Weissmuller Pool. The design style takes you back to the glamorous era of smooth jazz with reclaimed wood finishes, antique glass windows, light wood tables and black bistro chairs, and vintage Edison lighting. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Happy Hour is prior to the dinner hour nightly, and late night on the weekends. Hope 46 also provides room service.
The Red Fox Room is an independent steakhouse located in the east wing of the Lafayette. The quintessential steakhouse and piano bar was dismantled in Surrey, England, and shipped to the United States in three parts and reassembled in 1926 at the behest of actress Marion Davies, eventually finding its way to the Lafayette. The swanky restaurant and bar is open for lunch and dinner; ask for a Kentucky Mule drink at least once during your stay. Red Fox also often hosts live jazz music.
Finest City Improv is a play on San Diego’s nickname, America’s Finest City. This fun hotspot features performances Thursdays through Sundays. They do long form, short form, sketch, musical improve, improvised plays, fringe, and storytelling. If you want to get in on the action, the Improv also offers classes and workshops. Drop-ins are encouraged, so don’t be shy. They offer a full food and drink menu with no minimums.
Lafayette Hotel provides secured underground garage parking with 100 spaces, and three additional property owned lots for a nominal per night fee. There is also street parking available near the hotel. The hotel does not accept pets, except service dogs, but Bark Boulevard Pet Hotel is next door to the hotel where guests get preferred rates on comfy stays for their furry friends.
The Lafayette Hotel’s central location near four popular neighborhoods – North Park, Balboa Park, Hillcrest, and University Heights makes for a convenient stay. Enjoy culturally diverse North Park and all it has to offer with its quiet streets lined with Craftsman cottage architecture, funky cafés and diners, and hipster coffee shops. Pomegranate is a popular Russian restaurant across the street and down the block in University Heights.
The 30th Street Corridor has been dubbed a top craft beer destination by Food and Wine Magazine; check out the local microbreweries and boutiques from El Cajon Boulevard south along this stretch. Running parallel to 30th Street is the Ray Street Arts District, a cultural epicenter of the rising North Park arts community. The district is home to several galleries and studios, and the North Park Theater. Don’t miss an opportunity to check out the North Park Farmers Market.
Hillcrest is right next door and has been dubbed the Greenwich Village of San Diego. This eclectic neighborhood is the colorful epicenter of culture and diversity, with an inclusive multi-ethnic and gay-friendly vibe. You’ll find almost any kind of culinary delight you can imagine along University Avenue, the neighborhood’s social center. San Diego’s annual LGBT Pride Festival is held in Hillcrest.
Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the country at 1,200 acres and is home to over a dozen major museums. Check the park’s website for museum hours and to see which museums are hosting free days. The park also has an array of gardens including the Japanese Friendship Garden. You’ll find Spanish Village in Balboa Park as well where you can watch artists work and purchase their art. The famous San Diego Zoo is right next door to Balboa Park, which is an experience all on its own; don’t miss the pandas! There is so much to see and do here, it’s impossible to get it done in a single day.
The Lafayette offers guests a special Guestbook promotion where guests who book directly with the hotel receive a 5% discount. Not staying at the Lafayette? Don’t let that stop you from enjoying regularly scheduled poolside events. Swim Club day passes are available alone or in combination with an event. There’s always something going on at the Lafayette.
Here’s lookin’ at you, Kid.