San Diego: a city synonymous with surf, sun, and above all, relaxation. The SoCal city is home to countless national gems like Balboa Park, Coronado Island, Pacific Beach, La Jolla Cove, and the acclaimed San Diego Zoo. Less expected is a historic hotel smack dab in the middle of downtown, a site rife with a handsomeness more familiar in New England, the elegance of the early 1900s, and yet even still that quintessential West Coast sparkle.
The US Grant, located in the hip and bustling Gaslamp Quarter and named for the 18th President of the United States, although an anomaly in the San Diego Hotel scene, is woven into the fabric of the city and embraces that synergy through innovative food and beverage options, important preservation programs, and astounding event spaces. As a wedding venue, the US Grant combines old school opulence and modern elegance, East and West Coast charm, a historical backdrop and a spirit that is very much of the present.
An iconic property since 1910, the US Grant was built by the son of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th US President. The hotel houses 270 stunning guest rooms including 43 suites, all adorned with charming details such as a custom Yves Clement drip-painting. The lobby entrance welcomes you with jaw dropping chandeliers and posh touches like rugs reminiscent of a US $50 bill (the currency that features the hotel’s namesake).
With over a hundred years of history, the hotel is filled with fascinating stories including hosting 15 US Presidents and running a speakeasy during the Prohibition Era. The land the hotel stands on originally belonged to the Kumeyaay, a Native American tribe that traces traces its San Diego history back over 10,000 years. In 2003 the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation purchased the hotel, and it is now operated as part of Marriott Hotel & Resort’s Luxury Collection. The culture of the Kumeyaay tribe is celebrated in artifacts throughout the hotel. With such a rich and intricate history, the concierges are warmly dubbed the site’s “docents.”
The Event Spaces
With over 33,000 square feet of event space and 19 event rooms, it’s no exaggeration to say that the US Grant has something for everyone, from a major convention to an intimate affair. The largest space, the Presidential Ballroom can host 900 guests.
Each space has its own history and charm, such as the Crystal Ballroom, unveiled in 1927 as the Italianate Ballroom and replete with sparkling chandeliers and a black and gold travertine floor. For a unique offering, the Bivouac Ballroom was once a Prohibition-era speakeasy and features gorgeous vaulted ceilings.
The dedicated events staff keeps the whole production running smoothly, from flexible set-ups to all a/v needs. And of course their award-winning culinary experts craft delicious catering options.
Food and Beverage
Speaking of gastronomic expertise, the hotel’s fine restaurant, The Grant Grill, is an establishment all on its own. Since 1951 the restaurant has been gracing the San Diego culinary scene with innovative and elegant fare that highlights local, fresh ingredients. The handsome setting features rich mahogany and fleur de lis banquettes.
Executive chef Mark Kropczynski creates simple but nuanced dishes that pay homage to the Southern California region’s harvest while also show off his European cooking style. Must-tries include the Grant Grill’s legendary mock turtle soup and a 38-day dry-aged ribeye featuring a coffee-chipotle rub, butter-poached baby leeks, savory bread pudding, king trumpet mushrooms, and a veal demi. The menu also embraces the health-conscious attitude of California, with a healthy start section for breakfast and vegetable-forward dishes throughout the day.
The hotel also houses Rendezvous, a new French-inspired cocktail bar that pays tribute to the past. In 1933 just after Prohibition was repealed, the Wonder Bar was established by the hotel’s former owner, Baron Long. The menu is filled with creative concoctions like, my personal favorite, Le Coq (Bouquet of French Thyme and Rosemary Liqueurs, La Fee Absinthe Parisienne, Domaine Santé “All-Sass” Riesling Nectar, La Vieille Ferme Réserve Brut) or age-old classics like the US Grant Manhattan (Aged by High West for 100 Days, Combining Young Rye, French Vermouth, and Old Fashioned Bitters). Private parties can even schedule an intimate cocktail making class there.
From its fine dining to the countless stories housed onsite, it’s no surprise that couples opt to tie the knot at the US Grant. Six large and romantic rooms offer a range of venue options for celebrations of all sizes and all tastes. Couples can customize their event with the different personalities of the different spaces. The Presidential Ballroom is perfect for larger celebrations, as it can host up to 900 guests. In addition to those listed above, the Palm Court is another glamorous spot, located right off of the hotel lobby, and makes a prime choice for an afternoon reception or post-wedding brunch.
The Vintage Wedding Package includes:
- Enhanced Décor: Your Choice of Chiavari Chairs and Floor-Length Satin Linens with Coordinating Napkins (more than 20 options to match your wedding colors)
- Prosecco Toast
- Dance Floor
- Personalized Menu Presentation Cards
- Reception with Custom Hors d ’Oeuvres
- Two-Course Plated Dinner
- Complimentary Overnight Accommodations for the Newlyweds
- Preferred Guest Room Rates (based upon availability)
** All Images Courtesy of the US Grant or author
Emily Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle and travel writer. A recent graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Emily’s work can be found in numerous regional and national publications including Connect Corporate Magazine, Alma, New England Living, and Bride and Groom. She has served as the Arts Editor for both Southeast Florida Style and Design Magazine and Charleston Style and Design Magazine. Emily is currently an Academic Advisor at Northeastern University where she also teaching writing courses.