Upon entering the lobby of Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, all five senses are stimulated. You breathe in the fresh, perfumy scent that’s welcoming but not overpowering; you hear tunes from Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones pumping through hidden speakers; you see an LED screen the width of the entire front desk playing music videos you used to watch on MTV; you (want to) reach out and touch the bejeweled Lady Gaga outfit encased in glass; and—in the VIP Rock Royalty check-in line, you taste a refreshing cocktail of your choice, poured for you as you’re getting your key.
To wit, Hard Rock Hotel is about providing an experience from start to finish—for everyone from celebrities to meeting attendees.
The music-driven brand may have had a reputation for attracting hard-core groupies in the past, but the business split at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego is 60 percent group, 40 percent leisure, says Rana Kay, director of public relations. “We have groups from teachers to doctors,” she notes.
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego’s location across the street from the convention center and beside the entrance to the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter makes it a convenient option for room blocks, but the 421-room hotel holds its own when it comes to meeting space too. Naturally, each of its spaces carries out the music theme, from decor (think glass-enclosed shirts worn by Keith Moon and Elvis, plus iconic electric guitars) to sound (an on-staff vibe manager works with planners to coordinate playlists and establish a theme for each room).
Most of the meeting rooms are centralized on the second level, making it easy for a group to have its own private space, with the exception of the 8,700-sq.-ft. Woodstock ballroom, which is located on the fourth floor and can hold up to 650 people for a reception. The San Diego outpost of the world-renowned restaurant brand Nobu is located off the lobby; it’s regarded as one of the city’s top restaurants and can accommodate both private dining for smaller groups as well as buyouts (maximum capacity is 200 seated).
The 11th-floor terrace, located next to the luxurious Multi-Platinum Rock Star Suite, has views of San Diego’s Fifth Avenue and the adjacent, glass-enclosed Elevation boardroom seating 12. It has served as a performance venue for bands from Kiss and the Goo Goo Dolls to Coldplay, says Kay. And in case you’re still questioning the property’s rock star status, The Black Eyed Peas played at its opening in 2007. (Can you say #squadgoals?)
Attendees can recoup Sunday morning after a late night at the three-meal, on-site Maryjane’s, which has free coffee, a killer bloody mary bar and sticky buns the size of your face.