Hotel Del Coronado Renovation
Delivering a fresh and luxurious take on The Del's historic design legacy
Wimberly Interiors was honored to lead a transformative renovation for the iconic grande dame of San Diego – the Hotel Del Coronado, known affectionately as “The Del.” Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, the Hotel Del Coronado has been a living legend in American luxury hospitality, with Gilded Age historical architecture, extraordinary sea views and beach-loving guests that include royalty, heads of state, war heroes, celebrities and even ghosts.
The overall design for the Victorian building intentionally celebrates the history and legacy of this legendary seaside resort. Delivering a fresh and luxurious take on the design legacy, Wimberly Interiors led an integrated team that included WATG’s California architecture studio which served as the Architect of Record. The vision ensured public areas remained truly Victorian with original finishes remaining intact and focusing the design on enhancing and refreshing what exists today in the hotel.
Light – both natural and new – was used strategically throughout the space through architectural and decorative fixtures to illuminate the Victorian heritage. With a layered design approach inspired by classical elements but with a modern expression, palettes are lighter and brighter, but accents remain anchored in proper Victorian hues. The new spaces are fresh and relevant yet remain rooted in the rich history that honors The Del.
“Our vision was to create a delicate balance of design that purges the traditional idea of mixing ‘old and new’, but rather restores original items to their natural state of beauty and introduce new layered elements that enhance the heritage in a modern way.”
—Liana Hawes Young, Creative Director, Wimberly Interiors
For 130 years, the lobby of The Del, originally called The Rotunda, has been the heartbeat of the hotel – where guests gather to socialize, converse and, from the second-floor balcony, observe newcomers entering below and registering their names. While the lobby has changed over the years, the main configuration remained the same until 2021 – when the Wimberly Interiors team expanded it using an adjacent office space to open it up and welcome natural light. The lobby remains quintessentially Del but the addition of smarter lighting, a new centerpiece chandelier, and lighter furniture and finishing on the flooring maintains and enhances the original soul of the space. Just outside, beach-loving guests will enjoy a stunning new grand front porch adorned with white Brumby rockers – adding one of America’s last heirloom products to this legendary American resort.
In collaboration with renowned preservation firm Heritage Architecture and Planning, the design team painstakingly restored the lobby’s signature Illinois white oak walls and flooring to its original essence. The restoration unveiled the true character of the wood, now boasting detailed grains and textures that highlight the history and beauty of this treasured material.
While the lobby was transformed into a brighter, more spirited space, the team also introduced additional layered lighting with Victorian-inspired bell glass lanterns along the corridors to connect adjoining spaces. Adding to the historical grandeur of the lobby space, the team designed a new seven-foot tall chandelier that features hand-blown glass and cut crystal for an elegant finish.
A vibrant, modern burst to the space, a hand-painted wall covering was commissioned and placed behind the reception desk. Custom-made by de Gournay and titled Amazonia, the wall covering is a fun and whimsical depiction of tropical animals in the jungle and serves as a showstopping focal point for guests in the first moments of entering the hotel. Wall coverings were an important element in Victorian interior design due their wide range of designs and varying methods of production, and Wimberly Interiors brought this back to life in a creatively eccentric way. In addition to Amazonia, the team enlisted renowned wallpaper designer, Cole&Son, to handcraft a light ivory wall covering for the balcony overlooking the lobby.
The guest experience
As guests continue through the arrival space, they will find a reimagined historic fireplace that has been elegantly used as a backdrop for the concierge desk. And new reception desks which were designed as a reproduction of the historic desks of years past. The desks feature a backdrop of historically inspired cabinets and a creative, curated art installation of vintage Hotel Del Coronado room keys with vibrant green tassels.
While the Hotel Del has entertained such icons as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Charles Lindbergh, it is the everyday guests who have loved and adored this historical gem since 1888. Wimberly Interiors seized that magic and created a photo gallery of real guests enjoying The Del, situated along the main corridor leading to the Grand Ballroom. With these beloved guests in mind – Wimberly Interiors designed with a vision to ensure the charm of the old is cherished, reimagined, and celebrated in a modern, fresh, luxurious manner.
Currently, Wimberly Interiors is leading the renovation of the Grande Hall, ballroom and guestrooms at Hotel Del Coronado.