by Kaylee Hultgren | September 01, 2007

The Sofia Hotel
San Diego, Calif.
(800) 826-0009;

The 212-room Sofia Hotel once was known as the Pickwick Hotel, a 1926 property built by the pioneering, early 20th-century stagecoach company, Pickwick Stage Lines.

The building’s twin towers stand as the last remaining example of public, neo-Gothic architecture in San Diego. The towers’ superbly restored exterior, with crenellated rooftops and plaster and terra-cotta embellishments, is responsible for the hotel’s induction into the Historic Hotels of America.

A recent $16 million renovation of the 80-year-old structure also has completely reshaped the interior of the hotel. Modern amenities such as a yoga studio and in-room spa treatments lend a boutique feel. A business center, health club and two meeting rooms are on-site.

The Sofia Hotel is in the heart of downtown San Diego, and just a short walk from the thriving Gaslamp Quarter district, the multistoried Horton Plaza outdoor mall and the glass-enclosed San Diego Convention Center.

Lobby lounge of the Jumeirah Essex House
Art Deco meets
afternoon tea:
The lobby lounge at
New York City’s
Jumeirah Essex House

Jumeirah Essex House
New York City, N.Y.
(212) 247-0300

The original black marble floors, immense pillars and mahogany wood paneling of the hotel’s newly renovated lobby strike quite an impression. Plush furnishings and local artwork adorning the walls are also worth a look. But the hidden gem of the ground floor would be the pair of intricately engraved, bronze elevator doors. Dating back to the hotel’s 1931 opening, the same doors now serve as a portal to the hotel’s art deco interior.

The 515-room Jumeirah Essex House offers elegant event space just beyond the lobby entrance. The 3,800-square-foot Grand Salon and the 150-person Petit Salon, each with glistening chandeliers, together hold up to 700 people. Two executive boardrooms, a spa, a fitness facility, a business center and a new signature restaurant also are available.

Location is another huge draw: Guests step outside the hotel’s revolving doors to find Central Park across the street.