Ghosts, Style & Romance – Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, CA
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.
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.
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.
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…..
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!