William Penn Hotel | San Diego, California

I might as well say it upfront: William Penn Hotel is not your average hotel.

But that’s a good thing.

On a recent trip to San Diego, we pulled up in front of our accommodations and I hopped out to check us in, expecting a line or at least the typical lobby of a common hotel. Instead, I was met by a single person sitting behind a desk, waiting for me to check in as I was the last guest of the day to arrive. With only 17 rooms available, this makes sense.

The William Penn Hotel was built in 1913 and has since been remodeled and reopened, offering comfortable and roomy living suites for a steal of a deal. When I walked into our suite—approximately 800 square feet in size—I knew we’d have enough space to hunker down and call the place home for the next few nights.

Though each suite at the hotel is slightly different in floor plan and interior design, they are all exceptionally large and don’t do the word “hotel” justice. These places are condos, and a person could easily live in one. Each has a large living room (most with a pull-out sleeper couch), a kitchen stocked with all the necessary supplies and a bedroom with a queen-sized bed. The bathroom and closet are both large. My sister was able to spread all of her dissertation research around the living room and we didn’t feel at all crammed by the scattered papers. This wouldn’t have been the case in most other hotels.

But then again, like I noted above, this is not your average hotel. You don’t have someone hanging out at the front desk 24 hours a day to respond to your issues (though there is an after-hours phone number you can call) and there is no daily housekeeping service; you are responsible for managing your garbage and room cleanliness.

The William Penn Hotel is conveniently located on the corner of F Street and 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, and if you need to know anything about San Diego, it’s these two things:

  1. San Diego is a nighttime city.
  2. The Gaslamp District is the place to be to enjoy the nightlife in San Diego.

For anyone hoping to cash in on the dancing, dining and drinking that takes place nightly in the Gaslamp District, staying in a hotel in the downtown area is an absolute must. The William Penn Hotel is the ideal place to stay. It is also conveniently located for those attending an event at the convention center or who need to utilize the trolley system to get around town.

Okay, so this all sounds good, but what’s the downside? I have to say that there are only two small things here that I should tell you about: First, due to its location in the heart of the Gaslamp District, it is loud. It would be like what I think staying on Bourbon Street in New Orleans would sound like. We could hear music and vibrations from at least three different clubs. If noise is an issue for you, I recommend you pack earplugs. Secondly, the building is old and while the elevator reflects its historical roots, it’s quite unreliable. I have no issues with taking the stairs (we were on the fourth floor), but if you rely on an elevator to get around, this could be an issue.

We were generously hosted by the staff of the William Penn Hotel, but the rate for a room is only $179.00, an unbelievable steal for the value of a stay. If you need to park a car, it costs an additional $10.00 a day to keep it at the Horton Plaza, located just a few blocks away. Together, those two prices are not even twice the price I paid at The Jane, a 50-foot-square room off the beaten path in New York City!

I told you it wasn’t your average hotel …

One Response to “William Penn Hotel | San Diego, California”

  1. Sam/Franccesca Martinez

    The ww penn hotel is amazing. The Sonder suite for 330 (rate at the time our our booking) for 2 days was a steal. The room was a complete luxury renovated apartment with a very modern feel, no dated or antique furniture. Having just stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel the 2 days prior, I will say that the attention to detail and design was comparable if not better than the luxury room we had just left behind. The room was a stark contrast to the historic, classic feel of the hotel itself but I found the hotels originality to be quite charming. I was extremely surprised at the general cleanliness! Not a bug, ant or vermin to be seen. No mold, musk or dust. The elevator, oh the elevator. It conjures up childhood-like fear and paranoia, evoking a giddy sketchiness strait out of a horror film. It worked every time and never left us stranded or injured but to use it you must rattle, adjust and slam shut the period original black iron safety cage until the press of your floor number is accepted and you clatter and rattle your way up (or down). Then you dramatically must fling open the cage and throw yourself out into the vintage hallway away from your brush with imaginary danger. This of course is completely unnecessary as the last date of safety inspection according to the posted city license was just mid-last year and the fact that they have not updated or altered this piece of the Hotel adds so much character! Lastly, although there is no guests services at all, Sonder has a 24hr customer hotline with team members who will come to your rescue promptly should the need for assistance arrive. Speaking from experience as we encountered some self-inflicted mishaps during our stay, the Sonder team is absolutely second to none in above and beyond service and simply just phenomenal. Sonder at the WW Penn Hotel San Diego is the only way to stay!!


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