Zonies that flock to San Diego to beat the heat have a new hotel to discover in the Gaslamp Quarter of the seaside city. Based on the music and lyrics from several iconic Jimmy Buffet songs, Margaritaville is a destination as much as it is a mindset for your vacation. We loved discovering this gem and are providing the Top 10 reasons why Margaritaville Hotel San Diego Gaslamp Quarter should be at the top your list of places to stay in San Diego.
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In the early 1970s, Buffett was an aspiring musician in Florida. In 1977 he took his easy breezy island style of rock music kissed with calypso, a bit of country and a devil-may-care attitude and hit the big time with his song, “Margaritaville.” It hit number eight on the “Billboard” Hot 100 chart, but more than that, it ushered in the idea of a carefree island lifestyle and became an anthem for multiple generations. Buffet’s other hits include, “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “It’s Five o’Clock Somewhere,” “Volcano” and “Fins.”
Everywhere you turn at Margaritaville is the reminder that you are on island time. From the colors and décor to the super friendly disposition of the staff, guests automatically feel as though they’ve been transported to another place where work and worries melt away and are replaced by friends, fun, food and a cocktail that somehow appears in your hand out of nowhere.
Don’t worry if you’re not into cocktails. Margaritaville may be named after Buffet’s favorite frozen concoction, but even if you don’t drink, you will love the sights and sounds at this brand-new property.
Even if you don’t stay at Margaritaville, if you’re in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, it’s worth a jaunt to the property just to see the exceptional job that was done in orchestrating a beachy hotel that is the brand’s first urban location. Margaritaville is easy to find. Just look for the two massive painted parrots in flight that adorn the upper floors of the outside of the building. You will probably sense what you’re in for when you arrive at Margaritaville’s valet and are greeted by those same two colorful parrot paintings that beckon you further inside.
The huge exotic bird-adorned tile mosaic behind the hotel-check in is a stunningly beautiful way of welcoming guests to the hotel. An island-size chandelier created from large margarita glasses hangs over the common area space adjacent to the hotel check in desk. Comfy couches, squishy pillows, board games and a glass fireplace round out the space that is perfect for lounging, working or meeting up with friends.
The perfectly curated soundtrack that rolls across Margaritaville deserves nothing less than a Grammy award. I’ve never been to a property that plays such a vibe-matching set of tunes.
Songs included an expertly produced liver version of “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie, “When the Sun Goes Down” by Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker, “Hard to Handle” by The Black Crows, “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffet, “Rio,” by Duran Duran and “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys, among others. Music is key as it permeates the hotel from the front lobby to the rooftop pool and It’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere Rooftop Bar.
If ever there was someone who could give listeners a party-within-a-song, it’s Jimmy Buffet, and Margaritaville’s accompanying soundtrack follows that trajectory. In keeping the hotel’s music fun and beachy, it serves as a constant reminder that you’re not at a typical hotel.
4. Rooftop pool/bar
Margaritaville may be situated amid the Gaslamp Quarter’s hi-rise hotels, but it has something special that the surrounding hotels don’t. It boasts Downtown San Diego’s largest rooftop pool and bar. The design aesthetic from the hotel spills over into the rooftop pool that is tucked between the two wings of the hotel and features those two massive parrots that watch over the “Parrotheads” (the official name given to Buffett’s fans) enjoying the pool and bar area.
The rooftop pool boasts its own bar and four cabanas, available exclusively for Margaritaville hotel guests. An outdoor stage for live music is coming soon. It’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere Rooftop Bar has seating that overlooks the surrounding Gaslamp Quarter. You will also catch a glimpse of the upper decks of Petco Park, making Margaritaville a perfectly convenient home base destination if you’re going to watch a Padres game.
The 5 o’Clock Somewhere Rooftop Bar has a small but mighty menu that fits the hotel vibe and its guests. The appetizers are so fantastic, you may not even make it to the entrée list! The chips and dip go beyond by including guacamole, salsa, queso fresco and chicharrones. The deconstructed shrimp cocktail is one of the best I’ve ever had anywhere, and the scallop ceviche is chocked full of fresh seafood and veggies. Salads, a variety of burgers and tacos round out the menu that is available for poolside service, lunch and dinner.
Themed cocktails such as Coco Cabana, Mangoberry Crush, Changes in Latitude and Dust in the Wind are highlights of the cocktail offerings. Booze in the Blender offers the chance to enjoy your specialty drink in a 22-ounce take-home souvenir blender cup for an additional $10. It’s a big cocktail and great value. Wine and canned and draft beer and non-alcoholic drinks round out the beverage offerings.
LandShark Bar & Grill features something for everyone. Kick off a meal with the Avocado Tostada topped with seared tuna, the Bahamian Conch Fritters or the Heart of Palm Ceviche. The tostado was incredible, and we hadn’t had anything quite like it before. Baja Style Fish Tacos are an easy entree choice since you’re only a few blocks away from the water, but we particularly loved the Grilled Teriyaki Salmon with Caribbean rice and roasted broccoli. For lighter fare, try the Ahi Tuna Bowl or Grain Bowl.
The friendly staff at the LandShark bar are there to please, and they’ll go “Fins Up” for you. Just ask! Live music is on the menu daily. In a fun bit of design, the stage where musicians perform opens to the valet drive-up on one side and the LandShark bar on the other.
Need a healthy snack or a quick meal on the go? Margaritaville Coffee Shop features a full menu of coffee, tea and speciality drinks, plus a cornucopia of unique healthy snacks, fruit, wraps, parfaits and more.
6. A bankable name and brand
Jimmy Buffett has proven himself and his laid-back vibe to be a bankable brand in the past several decades. As of August 2023, “Forbes” published Jimmy Buffett’s net worth as $1 billion, making him one of the world’s richest musicians. Margaritaville boasts over 40 locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Mexico, US Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Bahamas.
His Margaritaville Holdings empire includes his music catalog, Margaritaville Hotels and Resorts and Margaritaville-brand spirits. LandShark beer was also founded in 2006 by the Margaritaville Brewing Company but has since been sold to Anheuser-Busch. Additional branded items under the musician’s company umbrella include home décor, apparel, pool floats and even pickleball sets. The Margaritaville brand is applied perfectly throughout the hotel and gift shop, from top to sandy beach bottom.
7. Hotel rooms
There is $130,000 in design, décor, art, furniture and fixtures that went into every Margaritaville hotel room which are primarily completed in hues of sky blue and seafoam green. The wood plank style floors are covered by a few large area rugs. Our one-bedroom king suite included a large fold-out couch, a four-seater table next to the counter that houses the coffee station and vintage style mini fridge and a cute chair with large pillows, the largest of which features one of the friendly parrots. Additional decor includes a fun assortment of vintage Jimmy Buffet album covers, a life preserver and beachy hanging light fixture an island airplane and a large wooden stand-alone sign that reads, “RELAX,” that overlooks everything.
Our bedroom boasted a king-size bed with impossibly comfortable pillows, beautiful wooden dressers and nightstands and an ottoman. The bedroom closes off from the living room area, making it perfect for a family vacation sleeping arrangement or a getaway set-up for friends. And if you look carefully, you’ll notice the cleverly, almost covertly embossed parrots making an appearance on the bed’s duvet cover.
The bathroom includes a bathtub so big; you could almost go swimming in it, a large window with more great views and a subway tile surround glass shower. You won’t get bath towels in when you step out of the shower, you’ll get giant bath sheets! The St. Somewhere Spa by Margaritaville shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are a scrumptiously scented bunch of toiletries that further the relaxing experience. Check out the bathroom sink faucet handles… They are whale tails!
There are several different types of hotel rooms available at Margaritaville, tailored to how you might visit or vacation there. Ranging from smaller rooms for a single person or couple to larger suites for families or a group, your “island getaway” at Margaritaville will have a special space to accommodate you or a crew.
8. Gaslamp Quarter location
You won’t be at a loss for things to do in the areas surrounding Margaritaville. You can go to a Padres baseball game, visit galleries, shop in Seaport Village, dine in Little Italy or explore the ships at the nearby USS Midway Museum and the Star of India at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The San Diego Convention Center is also a short walk away.
Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is the breathtaking outdoor venue home of The San Diego Symphony. There are always special events and concerts happening there, and only a 15-minute walk from Margaritaville.
9. Jimmy Buffett references
Upon entering the lobby, you will encounter a massive upright flip-flop shoe and a beer can “pop top.” The items paired together immediately resonate with anyone familiar with Buffet’s “Margaritaville” song. Parrots are present in many locations in and around the hotel.
You can buy a cheeseburger in paradise at the It’s Five o’Clock Somewhere Rooftop Bar, drink margaritas, find booze in the blender, find the front porch swing, and have a LandShark beer while enjoying Buffet’s music. The scene at Margaritaville is an entire change in latitude.
Everywhere on the Margaritaville property, the staff we encountered was top notch. It started with valet attendants and continued with front desk staff, hotel management and restaurant servers and managers, pool and room attendants and a sweet employee named “Callie” who helped us multiple times in the Margaritaville Coffee Shop.
A gift shop adjoining the Margaritaville Coffee Shop features Margaritaville shirts, shorts, towels, glasses, cookbooks and other fun branded items that will serve as fond reminders of your “island time” at Margaritaville San Diego Gaslamp Quarter. Visit margaritavilleresorts.com for additional information and special offers.