Some Like It Hot

Shadows at Hotel del Coronado, San Diego by Vic Briggs

Just across from San Diego Bay, on the white sanded beaches of Coronado, rise the magnificent towers of Hotel del Coronado, otherwise known as simply The Del: one of the last surviving wooden Victorian beach resort hotels in America. When it first opened in 1888 it was the largest of its kind in the world.

The Del was home to many firsts in its time: it was the first ever hotel with electric lighting and the first to have an electrically-lighted outdoor Christmas tree, overseen by none other than Thomas Edison.

Legend has it that Edward The Prince of Wales had met Wallis Simpson – the American divorcee whose love would lead to a constitutional crisis in the United Kingdom and the Dominions and would ultimately result in his abdication from the British throne as King Edward VIII in December 1936 – at a grand banquet in the Crown Room of the hotel given in his honour when he visited Coronado in April 1920. Although this was established to be untrue, the royal seal of approval certainly made The Del the “in place” to stay.

The 1920s saw it become the Hollywood’s darling, with Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable amongst others making it their weekend party home during the Prohibition.

The Great Depression had wrecked havoc on the hotel’s brilliant history and for a while there was talk of demolishing it altogether. For those who had seen it at its height, it may have come as a surprise to find out that Billy Wilder, the director of Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe (1959) chose The Del as the setting for the fictitious “Seminole Ritz” for his comedy’s Florida segment in great part because it was very cheap to rent.

This timely addition of Hollywood glamour had the desirable side-effect of changing The Del’s fortunes and today, while maintaining its Victorian look, the hotel is as luxurious as any visitor may desire – although it is unlikely to ever regain its spot as one of the “Top 10 Resorts In The World” which it had boasted at its inception some one and a half centuries ago.

About this image: Shadows on Sand on the shores of Hotel del Coronado. Keepsake of a beautiful day spent with old friends and new under the California winter sun.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

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14 thoughts on “Some Like It Hot

    • Thank you, Richard. It is a very beautiful spot and they welcome visitors. There is an exhibition on the ground floor with details of the hotel’s history that includes museum-style pieces from its tumultuous past. I always find that knowing its story makes me appreciate the beauty of a place much more. Very glad you found it interesting.

  1. Lovely shot, Vic, and interesting timing. We were in San Diego last week; Coronado Island and The Del with its spectacular setting captivated me so much that a prompt reworking of plans followed in order to ensure a return visit while we were in the area. Am swamped with work and a bit behind in posts, but will be publishing one of my EEA Visits … posts, hopefully within the week, to includeThe Del.

    It’s always nice to pop on to your site; keep up the good work.

    • What a lovely coincidence. I am glad that you had a chance to visit Coronado. It was my first visit, but I certainly hope it will not be the last. I feel like I only got a taste of what the place has to offer. Look forward to reading the post inspired by your visit. Hope you will get some time to write it soon.
      With many thanks,
      Vic

      • Agreed; I’d go back in a heartbeat and suspect that many first time visitors – as were we – feel similarly drawn to the hotel, the beach and the entire islalnd. What a beautiful spot.

        Thanks re the upcoming post; if we could only tuck another half dozen hours in each day …

        Best,
        Shelagh

  2. That was a very nice day, Vic. We sure had a good time and I’m glad to see you writing about it. You are – of course – always welcome to come back to visit, and it would be great to be able to chat with you more often. Once every ten years is not enough 😉

    Matthew

    • It was a beautiful day, Matthew. I wish we could stay longer. Will come back to be sure, just don’t know when as yet and of course you are welcome to England any time. Until then, drop me a line to let me know how you are. We won’t let it be another decade, I promise.

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