Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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San Diego, California has long been a glaring hole on my travel map. I’d been to Southern California numerous times over the years, but never further south than Orange County.
When a friend of mine moved to the city earlier in 2021, I decided it was finally time to visit this oceanside city that I’d heard so much about, but never experienced for myself.
I booked a flight several weeks ahead of my trip and turned my attention to figuring out where I’d stay. I had a stash of Marriott Bonvoy points, 3 World of Hyatt free night certificates, and 2 Hilton Honors free night certificates at my disposal, thanks to extended expiration dates and very few hotel stays in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I spent entirely too much time poring over the numerous options in the city. Ultimately, I settled on using my Hyatt certificates for a long-weekend stay since there were 2 hotels eligible for my certificates: the Andaz San Diego and the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.
Initially, I wanted to book the Andaz, thanks to its boutique feel and location in the popular Gaslamp Quarter. However, only 2 of the 3 nights I needed to stay were available to book with points — and by extension, my certificates — meaning I could either use 2 of my certificates and pay cash for the third night or pick a different hotel altogether.
I wanted to use my certificates — and minimize the out-of-pocket cost of my trip — so I chose elsewhere. Luckily, Hyatt had another property where I could use all 3 certificates: the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.
While it wasn’t my first choice for my stay, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is located in 2 of San Diego’s most iconic towers, just steps from San Diego Bay, and looked to be nice enough, if a little cookie-cutter. Above all, though, I’d stay for free thanks to my certificates, and that’s what mattered most to me since I planned to spend most of my time away from the hotel exploring the city.
After confirming my reservation, I did some research on the property to set my expectations and quickly realized that this hotel caters primarily to the numerous conventions and conferences that happen in San Diego throughout the (non-pandemic) year.
With a staggering 1,600+ rooms set in 2 towers, I prepared myself to be overwhelmed by the property’s size and very likely busyness.
Without a doubt, it was both of those things — but I still enjoyed my stay.
One of the most unique characteristics of San Diego is the proximity of its airport to the city. In fact, the airport is right in the city. This results in exceedingly quick rides from San Diego International Airport (SAN) to most points around the city, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego included. It took me just under 10 minutes and $19 for an Uber ride from the airport to my hotel.
The Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is located on the waterfront adjacent to Seaside Village, which is packed with tourist-friendly attractions, shops, restaurants, and more. Speaking from experience, the location is also perfectly suited for morning (or any time of the day) walks to help fight jet lag after long transcontinental flights.
From the hotel, it’s easy to reach many popular areas of the city, including the aforementioned Gaslamp Quarter, the buzzing Little Italy neighborhood (park yourself at a restaurant or bar in Little Italy and spend a few hours planespotting — you won’t regret it!), the East Village, and attractions including Petco Park and Balboa Park (though I wouldn’t recommend walking to Balboa).
As I mentioned earlier, I used free night certificates from The World of Hyatt Credit Card for my 3-night stay. Thanks to multiple COVID-19-related extensions, I had 3 certificates in my World of Hyatt account by the time I was ready to finally use them.
You can earn these certificates in a variety of ways, including staying a certain number of nights per year or meeting spending thresholds on the World of Hyatt card. The certificates are valid for Category 1 to 4 properties, though the redemption property must have award availability on your desired nights for you to redeem the certificates.
The Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is a Category 4 World of Hyatt property, eligible for the free night certificates. Otherwise, if you redeem points at this property, you’ll pay 12,000 points for an off-peak night, 15,000 for a standard night, and 18,000 for a peak night.
Remember, too, that World of Hyatt points are easy to earn, thanks to a transfer partnership with Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can transfer points earned from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® at a 1:1 ratio.
Hot Tip: Even though World of Hyatt has introduced a new award chart with off-peak, standard, and peak pricing, any free night certificates you may earn are valid on peak nights, meaning you could potentially get even more value from each of these certificates.
I found 3 consecutive nights at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego with award availability, so I placed a call to Hyatt and the friendly agent was able to apply my certificates in just a few minutes. Shortly thereafter, I received an email confirmation and the reservation showed up in my World of Hyatt app.
Had I paid cash for my stay, I would have had to fork over around $360 per night. I theoretically could have extracted more value for these certificates in other ways, but I very gladly kept over $1,000 in my pockets that was put to use throughout my 2-week trip in California.
I knew this property was large, but I didn’t realize the true enormity of it until I pulled up in the Uber. It’s a positively massive hotel, with 2 very tall and architecturally notable towers connected on the ground floor by a — you guessed it — massive lobby area.
The lobby is soaring, with ceilings so high I couldn’t make an attempt at putting a height on them. Opposite the doors are numerous check-in desks clad in white marble and attractive light wood. Behind the desks is a gigantic backdrop depicting an ocean wave surrounded by more of that light wood — it was certainly an impressive entrance.
Directly behind the check-in area are numerous conference rooms.
The lobby is flanked on the Harbor Tower side by The Landing bar and restaurant.
On the opposite side is the Seaport Tower, which has 2 food and beverage outlets: Market | One and Brew30.
When I arrived on a Friday just before noon, the check-in area was busy with people arriving for the weekend. I was able to use the World of Hyatt elite check-in line thanks to my Explorist status. There was just 1 other guest in front of me, and I didn’t wait more than 5 minutes to be helped.
The agent behind the plastic partition thanked me for my Explorist status, confirmed various details of my stay, and explained that he had upgraded me to a 1 King Bed Bay View room that was ready immediately.
I was thrilled to hear that I’d both been upgraded and that the room was ready for me, a nice surprise considering I was about 4 hours ahead of the standard check-in time. While it wasn’t a suite upgrade, I appreciated being put into a room on a higher floor with a view of San Diego Bay!
While it’s clear this property caters primarily to conventiongoers, there’s no shortage of amenities on offer that blur the line between an urban property and a resort. Let’s take a look at the popular amenities:
San Diego is known for its great year-round weather, so it’s no surprise that this massive property has not 1 but 2 outdoor pools.
There is a family pool located on a rooftop in the Seaport Tower. This pool boasts views of both downtown San Diego on 1 side and the bay on the other.
It’s large and had plenty of loungers and cabanas (for rent) surrounding it. Though it wasn’t my particular cup of tea in terms of design (it reminded me a bit of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with its vaguely Italian vibes), it’s was a nice place to catch some rays and go for a dip — especially if you have kids in tow.
Elsewhere on the pool deck is a fire pit, which looked like a pleasant place to sit in the evening. There were plenty of benches and chairs around it and it provided great views of the bay.
There is also a small “lawn” for games like cornhole and a ping-pong table.
While I was told the Pool Bar & Grill was technically closed, there was a small “pop-up” bar area set up where you could order drinks and food. You could grab your drinks right at the bar but the food would be delivered to your chair.
On the other side of the resort in the Harbor Tower is the adults-only pool, which is where I would have parked myself had I had more time to relax at the hotel.
This pool is smaller, but, in my opinion, was more attractive with its simple rectangular shape and fewer chairs flanking the edges.
Like the family pool, there are cabanas for rent at the adult pool. The views are primarily of the bay and the neighboring Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina hotel.
The Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego has an onsite spa for guests, but it was closed during my stay in October 2021. There wasn’t any signage indicating when it might be open again.
Since this is such a large property (I’ll say it again, there are over 1,600 rooms), the fitness center is also quite large, designed to handle a large number of guests.
It was well-equipped with numerous treadmills, ellipticals, and weight machines.
There was also a free-weight area with a couple of benches.
The gym had 2 Peloton bikes, which felt like not enough for a hotel of this size. But then again, there were just 1 or 2 people in the gym each time I passed through.
Finally, there was a station with 2 water dispensers, plastic cups, towels, and hand sanitizer. There was a machine where you could refill your reusable bottles, but it was “out of service,” presumably a remnant of early-pandemic service adjustments.
The hotel has an outdoor “sports court” set up on a rooftop overlooking downtown San Diego. There is a basketball court, tennis court, volleyball court, and 2 shuffleboard courts.
However, during my stay, the tennis court and some of the volleyball court were taken over by a Rooftop Cinema Club that the hotel had constructed.
Each night of my stay, there were screenings of different flicks, which looked to be quite popular, judging by the lines of people waiting in line for the elevators in the evenings.
Wi-Fi was complimentary and worked well throughout the hotel for me. I had no issues maintaining a connection, nor were there any problems when I streamed Netflix on my computer each night.
A variety of onsite parking options are offered at the hotel. Valet costs $60 per night for overnight guests, $10 for the first hour of “transit” parking (i.e. taking the car in and out multiple times in a day), and then $8 for each additional hour, for a maximum of $60 per day.
Self-parking is also an option. It costs $40 per night for overnight guests, $8 per hour for “transit” parking, and a maximum of $45 per day.
I hadn’t spent much time in hotels after cities and states began lifting or relaxing COVID-19-related restrictions, so I was curious to see how things would look at this hotel. Basically, it felt like a hodge-podge, which felt like a microcosm for the situation across the country at large.
There were signs of early-pandemic changes, including plastic dividers at each check-in desk, hand sanitizer every several feet, and signs asking people to limit elevator trips to no more than 4 people.
However, there wasn’t a clear policy on masks — signs were recommending the use of masks for anyone who wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. But besides employees who were vigilant about wearing theirs, I couldn’t count more than a handful of guests wearing masks indoors. It wasn’t “against the rules,” per se, but the ever-changing status of the pandemic and guidance from relevant authorities has created a situation that puts hotels and other travel providers in a tough spot.
And then some things seemed like a relic of the past, such as the aforementioned water machine in the gym being out of service. It’s entirely possible that it was broken, but it just felt to me that it was shut off in March of 2020 and hasn’t been back since. It’s no big deal, to be sure, but rather an example of how things felt a little funky from a COVID-19 perspective.
I want to reiterate, though, that I don’t believe this is the hotel’s fault, but came about as a result of the inconsistent regulations that change from city to city or county to county.
As I mentioned earlier, I’d been upgraded to a room with a bay view, versus the city-view room I had originally booked. It wasn’t the best upgrade I’ve ever received, but I appreciated it nevertheless and did indeed enjoy the beautiful views of San Diego Bay, various marinas, and a good portion of the city’s skyline from my room.
I was satisfied by my room, if not blown away. Immediately upon entering, there is a large closet to the left and the bathroom to the right (more on that later).
Inside the closet were a safe, iron and ironing board, a luggage rack, a safe, a few hangers, extra linens, and a couple of plastic laundry bags.
The bedroom itself was quoted at around 340 square feet, but it felt larger than that to me. On 1 wall was the king-size bed, which was a little too firm for my liking.
The bed was flanked by 2 nightstands, 1 of which had a very old-looking telephone on it, which didn’t get an update the last time the guest rooms got a refresh. Next to that phone was a lamp whose shade had seen better days.
The opposite nightstand had a matching lamp (its shade was in better condition), along with a remote for the television, an alarm clock with outlets and USB ports for convenient bedside-charging, as well as a piece of paper with a single QR code that allowed me to look at restaurant hours and menus, as well as other goings-on at the hotel, right from my phone. That’s a COVID-19-related change that I’d like to see stick around!
Directly in front of the large window was a sofa and a table that could be used for eating or working.
Across from the bed was a traditional desk and chair — perfect for getting some work done, which makes perfect sense, considering the conference-oriented nature of this hotel.
Above the desk was a flat-screen TV, and resting on top of it was a coffee/tea maker.
Below the desk was the empty minifridge. I loved that it didn’t have any overpriced beverages in it because I could store my leftovers from dinners in the city with no problem!
Finally, there was a rather deep chair next to the desk, which served me well as a storage unit for my clothes during my stay (who needs a closet anyway?).
The standout feature of the room, of course, was the great view of the San Diego Bay and waterfront, the San Diego Convention Center, and some of downtown’s skyscrapers.
The bathroom, much like the rest of the room, didn’t stand out in any particular way, but I had no problems at all with it.
There is a single vanity with a very large, backlit mirror, a toilet, and a generously-sized standing shower. There’s no soaking tub here, which is A-OK in my book because while a tub is nice to look at, I’d never use it.
The pressure in the shower was fantastic, though (OK, I lied about nothing standing out).
And I did enjoy the toiletries from Agraria out of San Francisco.
Again, nothing overly luxe to be found in the bathroom, but when you think about what this hotel’s purpose is — primarily to serve massive amounts of conventiongoers — it does its job very well. If I were visiting from out of town for a conference, I’d be more than happy to have this room for a few nights.
At this point, you know this hotel is a large one. And a hotel this large should have numerous restaurants and bars for guests to choose from. Luckily, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego delivers on this front — with 1 small catch.
During my stay, several outposts were closed “until further notice.” This may have something to do with the labor shortage affecting the service industry, though that’s pure conjecture on my part, as there were no allusions to that.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect from the food and beverage offering at Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego when the hotel is at full strength.
This is the hotel’s almost-all-day grab-and-go outlet serving coffee from Starbucks as well as made-to-order and prepackaged salads, sandwiches, and more.
It was operational during my stay, though I didn’t have a chance to grab anything as I did most of my eating off-property. I can say, however, that there was a line each morning, presumably for coffee.
Sally’s is an indoor/outdoor casual restaurant serving seafood-centric dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients. I headed here immediately after I dropped my bags in my room for some lunch, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I was in San Diego, after all, so I had to try the fish tacos made with mahi-mahi, cabbage slaw, avocado, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese.
To wash it down, I had a mai tai (the closest I’ve been to Hawaii in quite some time).
Both items were delicious, and I loved the casual waterfront setting. It’s worth having a meal here — or at least a cocktail before heading out for the evening.
You can browse the Sally’s menus here.
The Landing is the hotel’s lobby bar, serving up small plates, craft cocktails (including build-your-own Old Fashioneds), wines, bourbons, whiskeys, and more. It was a very nice space, with plenty of seating and a beautiful bar, but it was only open in the evenings. Each time I made an attempt to have a drink, it was packed with conference attendees unwinding after a long day of conference-ing, so I, unfortunately, couldn’t partake in the BYO Old Fashioneds. There’s always next time!
The Pool Bar & Grill was “not currently available,” but as I mentioned earlier, there was a (what looked to be, at least) temporary setup at the family pool where guests could grab drinks and order food.
Top of the Hyatt is a rooftop lounge and bar located 40 stories in the sky. It primarily serves cocktails and small plates, with a side of panoramic views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Note that there is a dress code, described as “sharp casual,” and no pool attire is allowed. The space was rented out to private groups on the Friday and Saturday of my visit, and it’s closed on Sundays.
Brew30 was, unfortunately, closed during my stay. Normally, it’s a restaurant dedicated to the buzzy craft-beer scene San Diego is known for, with 30 taps that rotate with different beers throughout the year.
Breakfast is one of my favorite parts of staying at any hotel (well, almost any hotel), so I was not going to miss the buffet at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. Breakfast was served in the dedicated Seaview Breakfast Buffet Restaurant.
The $32.95 buffet featured an enormous spread of breakfast foods.
There was just about everything you could want, from fresh fruit…
…to all the fixings for a good bagel and lox…
…to made-to-order omelets and scrambles.
I helped myself to a hearty omelet filled with plenty of vegetables, as well as a generous portion of fruit, breakfast potatoes, and more. While the space itself was almost overwhelmingly large, the food was delicious and satisfied my craving for a good hotel breakfast.
Interactions with staff members at this hotel were few and far between, which is exactly what I expected, given the nature of this hotel. However, any interaction I did have with staff — from the bellboys to the check-in agents to housekeepers I passed in the hallways — was pleasant. I had great conversations with the front desk staff upon check-in and checkout, and when I asked a staff member to print a document for me, she happily agreed to and placed the page in an envelope for safer keeping.
If you stay here, don’t expect nonstop attention, but you can expect a competent staff who will do their best to accommodate anything you should need.
I had a fine stay at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. Personally, it wouldn’t be my first choice of property upon returning to the city, but then again, I’m not exactly the guest the hotel is going after, either.
In this situation, the hotel worked perfectly. I had free night certificates I wanted to use, and it was the only place in town I was able to use them for the weekend I was visiting, making it exactly what I needed. Even if I hadn’t had the certificates to burn, I’d consider this property to be a decent use of World of Hyatt points, given the prices rooms can fetch at certain times of the year.
If you’re visiting town with friends or family (or, naturally, if you’re attending a convention) and want a beautiful waterfront location with spacious, (relatively) modern rooms, and plenty of amenities, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego could be a great option — just don’t forget to pack your walking shoes.
The information regarding The World of Hyatt Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
Yes, in fact, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego has 2 pools — 1 for families and 1 for adults-only.
Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from around $180 to around $375 per night, depending on your exact travel dates.
The Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is part of the Hyatt family of hotels and participates in the World of Hyatt loyalty program.
Yes, you can use World of Hyatt points to stay at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. It’s a Category 4 property, meaning free nights cost 12,000 points on off-peak nights, 15,000 on standard nights, and 18,000 on peak nights.
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