Hotel Review – The US Grant

We really enjoyed our stay at the The US Grant during our Labor Day Weekend getaway. Here’s a quick review of the hotel…

hotel

Location – The hotel is located in the historic downtown Gaslamp District. There are many activities and dining destinations within walking distance of the hotel, and the hotel is about 3 miles from the San Diego Airport.We relied exclusively on Uber while we stayed at the hotel, and it worked perfectly.

 

Customer Service – Service at the hotel was top-notch. We never wanted for anything and we were always treated warmly and graciously by staff, even when they saw that we had a toddler in tow. Everyone we encountered was helpful, accommodating, and very eager to assist to us. To boot, everyone remembered, and used, our names throughout our stay.

lobby

Accommodations – The hotel is located in a historic building and it is undergoing some renovations. Despite this fact, the hotel is welcoming. There are 270 rooms in the hotel, although it didn’t seem that large to us. We booked a Landmark Suite for our stay and we were pleased with the accommodations. Our room had a large bedroom, small living room, a large closet, small alcove (great for storing toddler gear), and a large bathroom.

Amenities – The hotel is a part of the SPG Luxury Collection and features turn-down service, a spa, a dazzling lobby, a bar, and a high-end restaurant. The hotel also has a great gym, art gallery, and great concierge service. As a Platinum member, I chose “breakfast for two” as my welcome amenity.  This translated to a daily $40 credit in the Grant Grill – this ended up being a great way to offset our daily breakfast expense. As a courtesy, the hotel extended this benefit to the room that my in-laws stayed in. Free breakfast for everyone. The hotel lobby also features free coffee and tea service in the mornings, and free lemonade, cookies, and fruit in the afternoon. 

grant-grill

Family Friendly – This hotel is very family-friendly and I would recommend it to families traveling with kids of all ages.  The only caveat is that this hotel is old and has oddly shaped rooms and floor layouts.  This may pose an issue for folks using strollers or for those with kids who are learning how to walk.

Member Recognition – The hotel is part of the SPG family and (as noted above) we were recognized as valued members throughout our stay.

lobby2

September 5th

Thankfully, we all woke up later on Labor Day than we had been for the last few days – 6:30AM. I think we all needed the rest. We spent a few minutes packing before my in-laws came by our room to say good-bye. Afterwards, we spent some time packing and getting ready.

Before long, we made our way downstairs for breakfast at the Grant Grill. George insisted on drawing before our food came. My little artist!

artist

For our last breakfast in San Diego, I chose the “power breakfast.” Super delicious, friends. I think I’ve finally admitted to myself that I prefer savory foods (to sweet) in the morning.

my-break

And George had the…

 panc

After breakfast, we changed George, double-checked our packing job, checked-out of the hotel, then took Uber to the San Diego airport. Checking our bags and getting through security was a snap. We spent some time in the United Club watching planes, inhaling Cheerios (George), and relaxing before heading down to our boarding gate.

planes

We also picked up some lunch for George in the event that he didn’t like what was served on the plane. United is always very gracious about offering alternatives for George, but we don’t take anything for granted.

 board

We boarded without delay and George sang to all passengers as they boarded.

sing

We were a few minutes late taking off, but it was really inconsequential. There were a bunch of United flight attendants in-training on our flight and sadly, they were allowed to provide service on the trip. I know everyone needs training and practice, but the result was painfully slow service. George passed out before the plane took off ans slept until we landed. He wasn’t feeling 100%, so we know he simply needed the rest.

sleep

Lunch service began about 90 minutes after take-off and John and I were starved. We both inhaled our nuts and beverages.

nuts

I had the Parmesan chicken entree with a salad and it was only okay. The cookies that they served was much better. Go figure!

 lunch

The flight passed quickly and we were landing before we knew it. Once we collected our bags, we made a beeline for Jenni’s Noodle House. All of us were craving chicken ramen soup, so that’s exactly what we ate. After our dinner, we did a quick grocery run at Whole Foods before heading home and unpacking.

We had a great, casual trip to San Diego and we are grateful for the time that we had together as a family.

September 4th

Since our bodies were apparently still on Texas time, we were all up at 5:30 AM on Sunday morning. We quickly got dressed, then headed across the street to pickup Starbucks. George had blueberries and hot chocolate, I had mint tea, and John had (lots of) coffee. We walked down to the harbor again, but this time our walk focused on the US Midway.

uss-m

George was fascinated by the scale of the ship and all of the planes on it.

g-walk

We eventually walked back to the hotel and met John’s parents for breakfast at the Grant Grill. I tried the summer squash quiche and it was really good. George had the pancakes…again.

 breakfast

After we got ready for the day, John, George, and I took Uber to the Zoo for another day of fun.

sd-zoo-sign

On this day, we spent our time viewing the koalas, pandas, lots of birds, elephants, zebras, monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, Cheetas, kangaroos, Pygmy hippos, and giraffes…just to name a few.

zoo-col-sept-4

We also took a twirl on the Kangaroo bus so that George could fulfill an experience have had been asking about for two days! He really enjoyed riding the bus and seeing everything from the “sky.”

 bus-ride

For lunch, we visited Albert’s – a nice restaurant perched within the “Lost Forest.” This is more of a sit-down place with more food offerings, instead of the traditional grab-and-go options readily found within the Zoo. George had macaroni and cheese and fruit, John had a pulled pork sandwich, and I had a Cesar salad and cheddar-jalapeño soup. I’d highly recommend this restaurant if you need a respite from the craziness of the Zoo.

 lunch

After lunch, we spent some time exploring the Children’s Zoo, Reptile and Insect Houses, along with a play area.

kids-zoo

Once we left the Zoo, we took George to another section within Balboa Park so that he could enjoy rides on the carousel and the smaller “airplanes” for toddlers.

 carousel

g-butterfly

George almost fell asleep on the Uber ride home, but was wide awake when we got to our hotel room. He fought a nap for the longest time, but managed to finally give in and sleep for about 90 minutes before dinner.

For dinner, we made the short walk with my in-laws to Searsucker in the Gaslamp District. We had a really nice dinner made up of small plate dishes. I really enjoyed the tomato soup and grilled cheese, the meatballs, and the baked Brie. After dinner, we took a leisurely stroll back to the hotel.

At this point, George had developed a cough, so it was straight to bed for him. John and I did a bit of packing before knocking out ourselves.

September 3rd

We slept like logs, but woke up on Texas time. That meant G was up at 5:30 AM in California. But, we decided to make the best of it. We hit the nearby Starbucks, then took a morning stroll down to the waterfront.

sand-iego

We explored the waterfront area as the sun came up. It was glorious.

 g-walk

We walked back to our hotel and met up with John’s parents for breakfast at Grant Grill. George devoured pancakes and chicken sausage, while the rest of us enjoyed typical breakfast fare – eggs, toast, bacon, fruit, etc. The service was excellent and the restaurant had a great vibe.

 breakfast

After we got ready, we made our way to the San Diego Zoo for a great few hours of exploring. Since we planned to extend our Zoo visit to two days, we planned to take things easy and deliberately.

SD zoo hippo.jpg

On this day, our favorite animals were the flamingos, hippos, monkeys, zebras, elephants, lions, tigers, and polar bears.

zoocol

The habitats of these animals are gorgeous and very natural.

gma-hippo

We really enjoyed walking around and exploring everything.

heli

We stopped for lunch at the Sabertooth Grill and had typical Zoo fare – cheeseburgers, chicken strips, fries, fruit and drinks.

lunchcol.jpg

Before we left, my mother-in-law insisted on taking George into the kid’s store for a “treat.” He walked away with a great new truck from Grandma and a book from Mom and Dad.

After taking Uber back to our hotel, we all took glorious afternoon naps. George and I were out for a solid 2.5 hours. After our naps, we played for a bit before walking to Little Italy for dinner. We had dinner reservations at Ironside, a great restaurant that specializes in fish and oysters.

dinner

We had a tremendous experience. My in-laws and I had the house specialty (fish and chips), and John had the halibut. George had some pasta and shared some of my meal. The service was great, despite the fact the place was jam-packed with folks. Afterwards, we walked back to our hotel and grabbed dessert at Sloane’s, a homemade ice cream shop. The ice cream was so creamy and rich. I had the Cookie Monster flavor in a chocolate-dipped cone with sprinkles. So good!

 sloanes

After we were pumped full of sugar, we retreated to the hotel for bath and bed time.

September 2nd

We spent Labor Day Weekend in San Diego, California. John’s parents met us there and we had a low-key weekend full of family time, food, and relaxation.

We were up and at ’em at normal times on Friday morning. While George snoozed, John and I finalized our packing and got ready for our travels.

Once George was fed, we loaded the car and made our way to Sustain Juicery to pick up a smoothie (John) and an acai bowl (me).

bowl

We made our drive to IAH easily and without much traffic. We parked at Terminal C, checked our bags, and spent 20 minutes working through TSA Pre Check. Afterwards, we picked up some water and snacks for the flight. Then, we hunkered down in the United Club. George had some snacks and watched planes with John, while I caught up on emails. We were stationed in the “family room” with the most ignorant and disrespectful women I have ever encountered. To make a long story short, they were rude, lacked self-awareness, they somehow forgot that they were in public, and their kids were too old to be taking up space meant for small children. Fortunately, we were only there for about 30 minutes before we headed to the gate.

Because someone got sick on the plane intended for our flight (apparently this happened upon landing), the cleaning crew had to do some deep cleaning, briefly delaying the boarding and departure of our flight. Once on board, we settled into our seats, and George was excited to see that Mickey Mouse Club was on Direct TV.

j-direct-tv

Shortly after takeoff, lunch service began with warm nuts and beverages.

water-nuts

For lunch, I chose the chicken and rice entrée (so did John) and George had some nuts, a fruit cup, a cheese stick, my rice, and a Lunchable (his first one ever – he loved it).

lunchable

My food was pretty good and I was glad that George ate really well.

my-lunch

We also ate the warm chocolate chip cookies that were offered to us on the flight.

cookie

George spent the rest of the flight watching cartoons and playing with his iPad.

ipad

I worked on emails and listened to a few episodes of Law and Order: SVU (it was on Direct TV). John also caught up on emails and watched a soccer match. Clearly, we had a restful and relaxing journey to San Diego.

landing

We used Uber to travel to the US Grant Hotel from the San Diego Airport and we were there in less than 10 minutes. We met up with John’s parents and hung out in their room until ours was ready. Naturally, John’s parents spoiled us with gifts. Totally unnecessary, but greatly appreciated.

playtime

Once we got into our room and got settled, we unpacked and then set out to Balboa Park for some exploration.

bp-rr

The park is glorious and we enjoyed taking G on a mini train ride. There was also a great jazz band playing outside the Zoo, so we listened for a while. G loved it!

train

After returning to the hotel, we made our way to Asti Restaurant for dinner. We really enjoyed our Italian dishes, especially since we dined al fresco. George and I shared the Pasta Fagioli soup for an appetizer – it was delicious. George had a kid-sized cheese pizza for dinner and I had the lemon capellini pasta. The service was great – our server was very attentive and the restaurant ambiance was decidedly kid-friendly.

For dessert, we walked over to the Ghiradelli store to indulge in various chocolate treats. My father-in-law, George, and I had homemade ice cream in cones, my mother-in-law had hot chocolate, and John had a brownie. Everything was melt-in-your-mouth amazing. We also purchased a few goodies to bring home.

We walked back to the hotel and immediately began bath and bedtime routines. George and I were both passed out by 8:00 PM (and I’m not embarrassed by that one bit!).  Gotta love adjusting to the time change!