A Hardware Store From 1888 Is Now Oceanside’s Coolest, Smallest Boutique Hotel
The Brick Hotel has ocean views and a rooftop bar
Sometimes, all it takes is a couple great hotels to make a destination pop, and in the case of Oceanside, that might be just what’s happening. Following the opening of two waterfront concepts from Hyatt back in May of 2021, The Seabird and Mission Pacific, another, much smaller guesthouse quietly opened its doors about a year later. Dubbed The Brick Hotel, after the historic brick that this 1888 structure is built out of, Oceanside’s first hardware store has been lovingly restored into a contemporary boutique property with ocean views and a rooftop bar to boot.
Another thing that makes this hotel special is that it’s so very local — the property is owned by a pair of second-generation locals, Lauren Sweeton and her brother Tom Aldrich, whose family has been working in the hospitality business in Oceanside for years now running Pacific Villas vacation rentals. “The opportunity arose to save a historic building in downtown Oceanside, and opening a hotel felt like the next natural step,” Sweeton tells InsideHook. “Being from Oceanside, we always knew what an amazing place it was. By opening a property here, we are able to create an authentic Oceanside experience for our guests, while supporting our local economy and providing a type of stay that didn’t yet exist in our community.”
Located just a few blocks from the beach, what is now The Brick was formerly known as the Schuyler building, but for the last 60 years or so, the historic brick exterior had been covered over with stucco. Starting back in 2017, the new owners began a five-year adaptive reuse restoration project, along with an earthquake retrofit, to bring the masonry building into the 21st century. Now equipped with modern amenities and brand-new finishes, the original brick facade is one of the main selling points, and a nod to the property’s historic character.
“The earthquake retrofit was the most difficult component of the renovation,” Aldrich says. “Trying to make this original brick building structurally sound to current California building standards, especially with a rooftop bar perched on top, was a challenge which included very extensive foundation work and structural steel supports. But we like to think we offer something unique to the guest’s travel experiences, as a true boutique stay with only 10 rooms, surrounded by multiple different food and beverage concepts.” Getting earthquake-safe was only one of several issues the new owners took on, including making sure they were ADA and wheelchair compliant, a level of accessibility that’s difficult to attain with a small building from the 1800s, especially because it’s located on a grade.
Along with the structural renovation and the redesign of the rooms, the property also boasts several on-site dining concepts. Located just a few blocks from the beach and the central downtown areas, these new restaurants are another draw for this tight-knit, small-town community. “On the ground level, Q&A Restaurant & Oyster Bar — named after executive chef Quinnton Austin — serves chargrilled oysters and other New Orleans eats,” Sweeton explains. “On the Brick’s rooftop is Cococabana, a Caribbean-style cocktail bar with its own menu of small bites, and connected via the north end of the hotel is the beer garden at the Stone Brewing Tap Room.”
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Next door to the hotel is Oceanside’s long-standing cocktail bar Frankie’s, a late-night spot with leather booths, chandeliers and just enough of a lounge feel to set it apart from some of the other dive bars in the area. But whether you’re hanging out at a dive or a chandeliered lounge with the nicest martini in town, it’s the character of this neighborhood that’s turned it into something of a destination for Angelenos and more over the past few years. “Oceanside has its own distinct personality, with a very diverse population,” Aldrich notes. “A majority of coastal cities in Southern California can’t say that. When you visit Oceanside, you’ll get something you haven’t quite experienced before. We’re excited to offer the proximity in downtown Oceanside, and a location that’s walking distance to everything, including direct access to the Pier.”
As the family was working to open The Brick during the middle of the pandemic, they were hyper-aware of the need for contactless check-in and check-out and ported over some of the more useful elements of a vacation rental into the hotel’s infrastructure. “During the pandemic, we saw that many guests were looking for a contactless self check-in model,” Sweeton says. “So we are a self check-in property. Guests can skip the hassle of a front desk and head straight to their room to get their vacation started. A personalized door code is provided via email and text to each guest which they can use to gain access to both the building and room.”
This mix of historic design and high-tech infrastructure brings the best of both worlds into the property, which also includes “digital concierge screens in every room that can be used to check in, check out and find local recommendations around town.” With airy windows, custom furniture and wallpaper, the promised exposed brick and more historic touches like luggage racks built from pieces of the building’s original lumber, this boutique property offers a completely different stay than the towering Hyatt properties down the street, or even than the oceanfront condos that the family has been renting out for years.
And as business owners who were born and raised in the area, both Aldrich and Sweeton are excited to see the growth and change in their hometown — and be part of the next generation putting it on the map. “It’s an exciting time because there are constantly new shops and concepts opening up around town,” Sweeton says. “As so much new is coming in, we’re grateful to be able to tie the old with the new by modernizing a historic building that has been standing since the year Oceanside was incorporated as a city in 1888.”
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