With a Dazzling Pool, 24-Hour Diner and Jazz Club, the LaFayette Is SoCal’s Most Enchanting New Hotel

Turns out you can have a lot of fun with $31 million in renovations

September 1, 2023 6:36 am
The pool at LaFayette Hotel and Club in San Diego
The exquisite pool is just the beginning.
Haley Hill Photography

San Diego’s LaFayette Hotel and Club might only be a few months old, but it comes with quite a pedigree. The hotel’s parent company, CH Projects (aka Consortium Holdings), has been a presence in the local nightlife scene for years now, with a whopping 17 bars in the San Diego area. Building on that foundation, the latest brainchild of founder Arsalun Tafazoli is an all-service, all-purpose hotel that contains within its grounds eight more hospitality concepts, including a swim club, a bowling alley, a 24/7 vintage diner, a Oaxacan restaurant in a decommissioned Catholic church, a soon-to-open fine-dining restaurant, a jazz club and a rum bar. 

At the hotel’s grand re-opening in July, which came after $31 million of renovations to the 77-year-old property, three bars and two restaurants were already opened, and even on sweltering weekday nights, North Park locals were already packed in the pool and lobby bars, eager to get a taste of what will likely be a new focal point for the neighborhood. With a design-minded focus on bold patterns, playful textures, vintage finishes and custom furniture, this hotel feels more Johnson Hartig than Harbor Island. With 139 rooms in addition to the “city within a city” food and beverage outposts, here’s a rundown of exactly why the LaFayette Hotel and Club is destined to become the new San Diego hotspot.

The pool at the LaFayette Hotel features new custom tilework
The pool at the LaFayette features new custom tilework.
Kimberly Motos

The well-established Swim Club has been a neighborhood fixture for years, and the picture-perfect vintage pool is suitable for everyone from lap swimmers to sunbathers 

Whether or not the hotel can support an influx of local visitors as well as its own hotel guests remains to be seen, but for now, the pool is open to the public for a nominal fee of $46 for two. This original, Olympic-sized pool has a deep end of up to 10 feet, as well as brand new custom tilework — the best of both worlds. Lap lines are in place for serious swimmers, and green leopard-print lounge chairs under fringed, green-striped umbrellas are so photogenic they almost demand selfies. If you really want to focus your stay around the pool, rent one of the poolside bungalows for a balcony view or terrace access.

Victorian-style hotel room with bedding, a bar and dresser
One of the sumptuous guest rooms.
Kimberly Motos

Custom wallpaper, light fixtures and furniture imbue everything with gothic, Victorian and Tudor touches

Design is at the forefront of the hotel’s reimagination, and it’s the dazzling aesthetic choices that have transformed it from a mid-range, offbeat property into a high-minded destination. The Colonial-style hotel was originally built back in 1946 by Larry Imig, and drew 1940s Hollywood royalty like Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. So it comes as no surprise that lots of the design choices invoke this Old Hollywood era, even while modern amenities like a walk-in shower, Diptyque products and a strong, expertly concealed air conditioner ground the rooms firmly in the present. One small nitpick: Outlets are few and far between in both the rooms and the lobby common spaces, so don’t head downstairs expecting a full work day on a laptop or a quick and easy phone charge.

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Chairs and tables with large candles in front of a bar, all designed to match interior of an old chapel.
Quixote is just one of the fantastic restaurants onsite.
Kimberly Motos

Quixote is serving up authentic Oaxacan cuisine in an atmosphere that’s a cross between a surreal cathedral and a mezcaleria 

From guacamole topped with chapulines (crispy grasshoppers) to mole “sorbet” (really more of an ice cream), Quixote delivers an authentic Oaxacan experience with a menu that doesn’t sink to lowest common denominator options like nachos or similar Mexican-American fare. Squash blossoms and duck carnitas tetelas, crispy lamb belly and a crab corn doughnut were all standouts from a wide-ranging lunch and dinner menu that included plenty of vegetarian options alongside the whole grilled fish or salted, dry-aged ribeye tasajo, served with chard, avocado, pickles and tortillas. And while there are holy relics all around, the drinks are flowing cold and strong, no matter the hour. 

Red booths and bar stools in front of a bar at vintage-looking diner
Bask in the glory of Beginner’s Diner.
Kimberly Motos

Why doesn’t every hotel have a 24/7 vintage diner in the lobby?

Beginner’s Diner might end up as the thing that hotel guests love the most when they come to visit LaFayette Hotel. Forget room service — who needs those lengthy wait times and awkward trays when hungry, drunk or tired guests can simply slide into a booth or grab a stool at the counter any time, day or night, and order up disco fries, sandwiches, deli classics and plenty of other noshes. There are boozy milkshakes (because of course there are), appetizers like pimento cheese with crackers, and excellent tater tots. But the real standouts are the toasty patty melt and the enormous turkey club.

Two bowling lanes in an open room with unique interior design
The Gutter may be the classiest bowling alley we’ve ever seen.
Arlene Ibarra

The in-room bar means a room party can be just as boozy as hanging out down at the Gutter 

Layered patterns, brocade fabrics, four-poster beds and extensive in-room bar setups make the guest rooms feel like magical portals into a boozy, whimsy-driven world, where making a proper Old Fashioned for a nightcap is suddenly within reach, thanks to detailed instructions and sophisticated bar tools. But bringing the party upstairs only makes sense if you already explored the game room on the ground floor at the Gutter, where everything from pool tables to bowling lanes to shuffleboard is available.


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