Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hotel Del Coronado

The Hotel Del Coronado is an iconic landmark also known as "The Lady who Lives by the Sea," sitting right on the San Diego coast. The Hotel Del was built more than 125 years ago and has been a beacon of grandeur and refinement among luxury vacation destinations in not only Southern California, but worldwide. This hotel is one of my favorite landmarks, being that it evokes not only happy childhood memories, but the glitz and glamour of the golden age - all with a twist of spectacularly-spooky stories. From princes and princesses to politicians and presidents, the Lady by the Sea has seen it's share of prominent people...

In 1885, San Diego was affected by "The Glory Years," as Southern California was seeing it's first big boom in real estate. Land developers quickly took the opportunity to build the most grand hotel, as towns were ranked in accordance to the opulence and size of their leading hotel. Opulent it was! With it's Norman architecture exterior, and interiors of persian and oriental influences seen throughout the ornate rugs, tapestries and furnishings, this was turn of the 19th century and many flocked to it's grand opening in 1888. Today, the inside is still rich and lush with dark wood and gold accents, dimly lit chandeliers and decadent carpets. What I absolutely love is the ornate brass cage elevators, complete with a sweet elevator operator dressed in uniform and ready to take you up or down. L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz, designed the crown chandeliers in the dining room. It’s said that the Del was the inspiration for his "Emerald City of Oz."

As I mentioned above, there is some spooky history and happenings concerning the Del, and it seems to be just the month for some scary story telling. Many people who gush over ghosts, will try to book rooms 3327 or 3519 hoping to experience the paranormal activity of Kate Morgan. In 1892, 24 year old, pregnant Kate was having a quarrel with her card shark husband when she quietly checked into the hotel and waited days for him to show. She was seen on the fourth day of her stay, but the next morning, she was found dead with a bullet in her head and gun in hand, near the steps leading to the sea. Aside from Kate's ghost, many report seeing a boy and a girl running up the hallways and stairs, and phantoms in the hotel hallways. Flickering lights, off scents, and billowing curtains are all common occurrences seen by staff and guests.  I remember staying here as a child, and being very intrigued after hearing it was presumed to be haunted. The hotel does feel very old and erie, and at night there is always a light under the door that glows and changes, complete with creaks and strange sounds. But this didn't bother me - at ten years old my idea of the best birthday party was holding seances to contact Marilyn Monroe. I know my friends thought I was nuts...

Which brings me to our dear Marilyn - of course! The Hotel Del Coronado made Hollywood history in 1958, when Billy Wilder and crew filmed the classic comedy "Some Like it Hot." Starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe, the racy romantic romp was voted #1 Comedy of all time by the American Film Institute. Made to look as though the movie were in Florida, Miami's mayor reportedly said it was “a sacrilege” to allow Southern California to assume the role of Florida’s “Sunshine State.” But the Golden State won, making it the perfect back drop for the film that was set in the 30's.  

Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as "Daphne & Josephine"

It was said that Marilyn felt relaxed at Hotel Del during filming. When asked if this were true, Wilder had said,“That was fun. We had a good time there. Marilyn remembered her lines…everything was going according to schedule.” According to another source, Wilder speculated that Monroe was inspired at The Del, where adoring spectators and fans were seen in mobs, as she preferred a live audience.
-Billy Wilder
"The 200 member cast and crew – most of whom made the trek from Los Angeles to the hotel via train – were housed at The Del for the duration of the shoot, a little more than a week. During filming, Marilyn Monroe was accompanied by her husband, esteemed playwright Arthur Miller, who made a special trip from the East Coast to join her at The Del. Also in Monroe’s entourage was acting coach Paula Strasberg, along with Monroe’s secretary and press agent; Coronado policemen were assigned to guard Monroe throughout her stay. A last bit of Del trivia: During her stay, a hotel chef reported that Marilyn fancied his cold soufflĂ© vanilla pudding with egg-white decoration, which she requested daily." ... according to The Hotel Del Coronado. 
Hotel Del in all it's original glory - vintage colorized photograph c. 1900
One of my favorite collaborations, with my friend Susana - Vestige Photography based in San Diego

Marilyn seen on set, in costume. Her pale complexion against the silvers, skies and sea, is ever inspiring

Inspired by Marilyn as "Sugar Kane," I wanted to dress as though filming never ended. I wore a classic ensemble with a nod to the 1959 film, wearing a vintage 50's wool wiggle dress woven with silver and gold specs of lurex. Shot in winter, this was just perfect <3

Festive at it's finest - How could I not wear my vintage gold Palm Trees brooch?

The late 50's and early 60's saw a change in the silhouettes of shoes, as pointy toe pumps made an appearance. I knew some gold heels were the perfect pick, and it seems Marilyn approves!

We love San Diego for it's unique beach-side charm and mid-century moments (and older) - still surviving. Stay tuned for more of our favorite spots south of Hollywoodland...

For more bombshells and beautiful photos, follow Vestige Photography and find her on Facebook 

That's a wrap, 

<3 Ashlyn 


  1. I love this post!! I would love to go there and visit that grand hotel. You look absolutely gorgeous and I adore all the photos of Marilyn. One of my favorite movies. :)

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  2. I happened to be lucky that my friend couldn't find a date for an event so he generously took me with him, which happened to be one of the best experience for me in recent times. I was lucky enough to see this place. If you get a chance to check this event space NYC out please do so.


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