A Summer Peach
On Ocean Beach!

Stumbling upon the Diamond Head Inn in 2003 was like unexpectedly finding a precious jewel; a diamond in the rough. My husband and I chose this particular hotel for its affordable price and perfect location, accessible to everything that San Diego has to offer, and only a few feet from the wide, velvet sands of Ocean Beach.

Like opening a treasure chest and finding gold doubloons, we were awed to find that the Diamond Head Inn's hotel room wasn't just a bedroom and a bathroom, but more like an apartment, or a timeshare! Each suite has an eat-in kitchen complete with dishes, utensils, and cookware. In case you don't want to use the stove, a microwave is also provided. (And in case you don't want to cook at all, there are many restaurants nearby.) With a very spacious living room and two ample closets, square footage was definitely not lacking.

A diamond in the rough, indeed! All it needed was some polishing to make it really shine. But outdated carpet, older furniture, faded paint, and such was worth overlooking when the location and the roomy space were so perfect. The Diamond Head Inn also provided character and history amidst the new tall hotels that lacked individuality. In the age of chains and franchises, history and culture is a rare find.

Living quarters are ample and nicely
furnished at the Diamond Head Inn.

"You're not going to believe what they've done to this hotel! You won't recognize it!", I yelled into my husband's ear over the phone on my second trip to the Diamond Head. I was so excited that he had to ask me to stop yelling several times.

Manager Jim Silver, an easygoing kind of guy, has the same love for San Diego and his life's work as many of the locals I've met, and he spoke of the hotel with pride. Jim has been managing The Diamond Head Inn for five years and is the type of person who keeps on top of things but has a carefree air about him. Business is always taken care of, maintenance is being done (even the palm trees got a trimming while I was there), and housekeeping is impeccable — there seemed to be no stress. You could walk into the office, plop yourself down in a chair, and Jim would have all the time in the world for you. I'd visit with him usually during my food stashing raids from the complimentary Continental Breakfast that was provided each morning. Jim was used to my stashing the muffins and pastries for those "you never know when moments", so he'd often offer extras for us to put in our backpacks.

Once an apartment complex,
the Diamond Head Inn offers suites
and standard rooms.

Jim told me that the hotel was originally an apartment building, which explains the spaciousness and complete kitchens. Major renovations started exactly about the time of my very first visit in September, 2003. The plan was to update the hotel but keep the quaint feel and not alienate its history. The owners and management, together with an interior decorator, accomplished that goal.

ike discovering that lost jewel in a treasure chest for the first time, I went on a hunt for more gems. Opening doors and drawers, scoping out the floors and ceilings, everywhere I turned I found more and more refurbishments. Beautiful stone tiled replace the linoleum on the floor. Shiny, new appliances, granite countertops, and imported furniture adds charm.

Each unit has a kitchenette,
shopping is around the corner.

The major renovation is a chain of events that keeps going until the very last step — the addition of slate to the stairs. This was going on during my stay and I visited with the construction workers who took great pride in their work. They stopped what they were doing each time we came by and even took the time to secretly spray off our surfboards and wetsuits, never telling us until the day of our departure. Was it the California sunshine that makes people so happy and helpful? Maybe it's because life on the U.S. mainland's paradise is so carefree. I don't know but it's a rare find, not just the hotel with its history, character, and renovations, but discovering people who secretly did things just "because". Had I fallen into an episode of the Twilight Zone?

The palette of colors chosen for the suites is straight from the beach itself. Nature is the director of this play of hues: tans, browns, whites, and gold, mimicking the sandy shore lying a few steps outside the door. Granite counters and tabletops and reed and bamboo accents on the furniture continue to invite the great outdoors inside. Heavy stone lamps and framed seashell artwork continue the living space to the coastal environment. Some suites boast balconies overlooking the deep powder blue Pacific Ocean. All is balanced with just a hint of contemporary elegance, providing a carefree beach feel without sacrificing luxury. It is more mature and sophisticated, yet comfortable and easy. The perfect balance.

Dream the night away
with Pacific Ocean breezes.

Now how can you top all of this off? With the dreamiest bed imaginable!, a bed repeating the natural theme — and the bedding! Oh the bedding could have been a magazine feature in itself! Soft, plump pillows, and a generous comforter that is beyond words cradled me like a white cumulus cloud on a perfect San Diego day. (Wait, I've never seen a day in San Diego that isn't perfect!)

Diamond Head Inn's location can only be described as P-E-R-F-E-C-T!

There are seven suites at the DHI,
some with balconies and ocean views.

One hundred feet outside your door is the beach, meaning an emphasis on the smell of the ocean, yet not so close that you can hear the crowd.

Everything is accessible without renting a car or taxi. My daughter and I join the famous 2-½ mile Boardwalk action, using every form of transportation other than motor vehicles: we hike, bike, skate, jog, and walk to the nearby shops, restaurants, and Belmont Park, where the rollercoaster and other rides thrill vacationers. We even bike to Mission Bay from the hotel. The end of the Boardwalk rewards us with one of the most incredible views: bright flowers framing the ocean blue.

The Boardwalk sandwiches between the Pacific Ocean's crashing waves for the more adventurous types and glistening Mission Bay for those dreaming their day away on a sailboat. A jetty connects the two bodies of water and is breathtaking as the white canvas of sails contrast against an I-can't-even-begin-to-describe-blue sky.

Just a short walk from Diamond Head is Crystal Pier, the scene for fishing or watching surfers below. You're so close to the surfers that you hear them cheer when hanging ten or swearing when there's a wipe out!

We ride our bikes to La Jolla to view the magnificent natural creations — cliffs and caves and the beach where seals take over. Manmade creations are just as amazing: multi-million dollar homes and the historical home of Dr. Seuss where he dreamed up all his stories.

Many wonderful attractions are neighbors to the Diamond Head Inn, including: LegoLand, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, Gaslamp Quarter, Sea World, Maritime Museum, Viejas Casino, and Wild Animal Park. San Diego and Diamond Head Inn have it all together for a great family vacation.

Weekly stays are welcome;
families save by eating in.

The Diamond Head Inn offers: 21 "apartment-sized' rooms with complete fully-equipped kitchens and plenty of closet space, and seven suites, some with balcony and ocean views. Other amenities include: daily complimentary continental breakfast; built-in hair dryers; cable television with HBO, ESPN, CNN; handicap friendly rooms available on the first floor with wide sidewalks, no stairs. The swimming pool is located just down the street at their sister hotel, Pacific Shores Inn.

A diamond in the rough, when polished, develops its rare qualities and outshines any other jewel. Each diamond has individual features unlike any other. No longer "rough" but the rarest and most valuable of all natural elements, a diamond is highly prized, and increases in value as it ages. Diamond Head Inn is polished, standing the test of time with an enhanced history and an unbeatable location; a rare, precious jewel.

Like a precious jewel, I want to hide it way, hoarding it for myself; but as we all know, a jewel is worth more when flaunted for all to see and enjoy. A diamond is special for both the giver and the receiver when shared — I share with you the Diamond Head Inn.

— By Lena Mabra, Jetsetters Magazine Beach Correspondent.