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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

See the Urban Side of San Diego

Skip the beach and fish taco stands for galleries in the barrio, “gastrocantinas,” and dive-crawling in Tijuana.

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1. Where to Stay


One of the newly renovated "Argento Collection" rooms at La Pensione.   

Stay near the energetic North Park neighborhood at the Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club, which used to be a celebrity crash pad for the likes of Bob Hope and Ava Gardner when it opened in the forties. Today, the hotel’s central, not-quite-Olympic-size pool is the summertime hipster hang, hosting food-truck-catered daytime pool parties with live bands. Despite an ongoing $4 million renovation, accommodations are fairly basic, but the poolside rooms remain the most coveted.

Get a little European flair at La Pensione (from $99), a modest spot that gives you access to the walkable Little Italy arts district. The hotel is in the midst of a $2 million makeover, and 15 of its 68 compact rooms now feature ostrich leather headboards, Italian linens, and rain showerheads. Ask for an “Argento Collection” room, preferably #317 or #320: They have the best balconies for sipping wine and people-watching.

Go nostalgic at the Pearl Hotel (from $79), whose owners took a rundown motor lodge and transformed it into a paragon of mid-century cool in 2007. Inside, you’ll find shag rugs in the lounge, vintage table lamps in the guestrooms, and mod furniture throughout. Wednesday night movies around the pool are a favorite among locals.


Published on Sep 11, 2011 as a web exclusive.

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