“The Del” as seen street-side

I’ve always loved ghost stories…and Marilyn Monroe. Both are fascinating, intriguing, kinda sexy and mysterious. It’s a most rare event that the two combine, but down by the little seaside town of Coronado there’s a special place that bring them together for the ride.

We’re by the beach just ~5 miles from downtown San Diego and we’re hanging out for the day with Kathie and Bob who we met boondocking out in Borrego Springs just a few months ago.

Hanging with Kathie and Bob at their site in Silver Strand

Kathie & Bob are workamping at Silver Strand State Beach and have graciously agreed to host us for the day and take us on a downtown tour of sumptuous Mexican food (con marguerita’s of course) and Hotel Del Coronado, known to the locals as “The Del”. It’s a wonderful little downtown, but it’s the Hotel that’s has got me all wound up with stories, and that’s just the kind of stuff I gotta share.

Back entrance of the Hotel

But let me go back a bit into the history first. Coronado aka the “Crown City” was born in 1885 when E.L Babcock and Hampton L. Story bought the land with the idea of creating a beach resort that would be “the talk of the Western world.” The beach had super-fine sand, a gorgeous and unobstructed view of the ocean and Point Loma, and seemed the perfect spot to stake a claim. By 1888 the Hotel Del Coronado had been built and was opened to great fanfare, becoming an almost overnight hit and destination for the upper class. It received its first royal visitor in 1890 (Hawaii’s King Kalakaua), lit the world’s very first electric Christmas tree in 1904 and went on to host 11 presidents and a slew of royalty (including England’s Prince of Wales in 1920 -> rumor has it he met Wallis Spencer Simpson right here!) becoming firmly established as both a resort and stylish get-away.

From the book” Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado”

But what attracts me more are the ghost stories. In 1892 a pretty young woman checked into room 302 (now 3312) for thanksgiving under a false name. Her real name was Kate Morgan, she was a grifter and unhappily pregnant, and according to legend she was waiting for her husband (or brother, depending which story you believe) who never turned up. Five days later she was found shot, likely by her own hand. Her body gone, her spirit went back to wait in the room, and has done so ever since. Of course with all great stories there is controversy, but no-one disputes the weird goings-ons that have happened in this room ever since.

But there’s more….

Another young lady, apparently the young mistress of E. S. Babcock and unhappily pregnant too, took her life some years later in room 502 (now 3502). Her  restless spirit still haunts there too, and has caused more than 37 abnormal readings taken by parapsychologists in a single day.

Two restless spirits, two unborn children and a whole lotta time. As the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…..

Marilyn on set at the Hotel Del Coronado. From www.sandiegohistory.org

But there has been romance & hollywood here too. In 1958, The Del was the backdrop for the comedy “Some Like It Hot,” starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. It’s one of my all-time favorite comedies, which Marilyn played beautifully in her classic sexy and innocent way. Many other movies have made their way here over the years, but “Some Like it Hot” has got to take the cake.

As we walked through the hotel, admiring the all-wood structure, the classic Victorian lines and the gorgeous opulence I couldn’t help but imagine the restless spirits in their rooms and Marilyn lounging on the beach. The hotel is alot bigger than it once was and what’s around it has changed dramatically (big portions of Coronado are now owned by the Navy), but it has retained all the architecture and old-style charm of the early 1900′s. You can shop the confectionary shop, have an ice-cream from the parlor or take a drink water-front by the bar. It’s worth the visit, even if you just come for the story!

P.S. Kathie & Bob introduced us to a rockin’ Mexican restaurant (and a bit of a local secret) Miguel’s Cochina. So, if you’re in the area, give it a try!

One of the gorgeous balconies on the ground floor. Is it haunted?

Fire extinguisher from circa 1900 in one of the halls

“The Del” clock

View down the length of the hotel

Pristine beach at Coronado. It’s one of the nicest in town.

The lovely Ballroom at the Hotel Del Coronado

14 Responses to Ghosts, Style & Romance – Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, CA

  1. jil mohr says:

    I loved the Del….it really is of a another era…reminded me of the large hotels on Miami Beach that I grew up with in the 50′s and 60′s….the glamour days…glad to seeit is nice and sunny there….not here:(

  2. Steve & Gari says:

    Great stories! We want to visit Coronado and the “Del”… and Miguel’s Cochina, yum!

  3. We enjoyed our adventure with you. You continue to do such an amazing job of writing about what you do. We’ll have to pick another place to go soon. Kathie & Bob

  4. Steve and Jean says:

    Nana and Paul,
    You have convinced us to drive to San Diego. My wife and I are planning on a week at the end of the month. I’ve read your posting and we are using your blog to mine for the places to see. Thanks. Now what about the weather? Yuk, The AccuWeather widget says rain on 4/25 through 4/28. Just our luck we’ll dress like ducks.
    Thanks for the postings.
    Steve x-CY

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh how cool! We’ll still be here, so you’re welcome to come visit if you’d like.
      As for the weather we’ve had a few days here and there of hard rain, but it usually passes. Overall our weather this winter has been outstanding. DO hope it stays nice when you guys are here!
      Nina

    • libertatemamo says:

      By the way we’ve had a few days of marine layer these past few days. Looks like “May Grey” might be setting in a bit sooner than usual this year. If you’re the coastal type you already know about this, but wanted to let ya know just in case. We lived in San Fran for many years, so personally I love the fog, but not all folks do :)
      Nina

  5. I have always been told about ‘Hotel Del Coronado’ from my friends in SA, but i have yet to make it out to the area! next summer I plan another CA vacation!

  6. The hotel Del is a really wonderful old hotel – point of history and interest. I have stayed in several of the rooms there. One was octagonal, very cool. The lobby is one of the best anywhere and the main dining room is beautiful. These days though your American Express card catches on fire when you go to pay for the room.

    • libertatemamo says:

      The Del is definitely somewhere you could easily drop your whole wallet :) i’ve never stayed, but really like the waterfront bar.
      Nina

  7. [...] dog beaches,  historical missions, wacky Ocean Beach, huge regional parks, wonderful urban parks, ghost stories, and the beginning of CA [...]

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