Soon after Juan Bandini built his thatch-roofed adobe family home, 1827–29, it became the social center of San Diego. Bandini himself was often seen waltzing gracefully and elegantly across the parlor floor. In 1869, after Bandini’s death, stage master Albert Seeley purchased Bandini’s home and converted it into his family home and a hotel. When Seeley enlarged his parlor in 1870 his home once again became the town’s community center, a scene of family reunions, dances, holiday parties, evening balls and weddings.
Overnight guests stayed at his fashionable Cosmopolitan Hotel in rooms on the second floor. Little did Bandini or Seeley know that 183 years later their home would still be the town’s community center.
After a $6.5 million dollar rehabilitation and restoration, completed in 2010, the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant—the oldest surviving building in San Diego— has been returned to its historic appearance as the 1869 Cosmopolitan Hotel, fulfilling a 50-year goal of historians and many San Diegans to restore the 19th-century landmark and recapture some of San Diego’s most important architectural legacy.
Now a vibrant addition to Old Town San Diego, The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant (The Cosmo) houses a full-service restaurant and bar and is the only hotel in San Diego’s Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. And brimming with luxurious vintage ambience, it is once again the town’s community center, a scene of family gatherings, dances, holiday parties, and weddings. The hotel’s balcony continues to be a place where guests gather to enjoy views of San Diego Bay, and watch an array of activities taking place on the state park’s central plaza. Within walking distance guests experience a new world of history, surrounded by museums, historic buildings and quaint shops.
Overnight guests at this charming B&B are again staying in 10 spectacular rooms on the second floor, (all now with their own bathroom!)—each room unique in its appointments with antique furniture matching that in the original manifests ordered by Seeley for the Cosmo in 1869. And, yes, there is WiFi.
Once again it is a popular restaurant and saloon, with antique and reproduction period furniture, chandeliers and period-art gracing the walls. But the cuisine is 21st-century, featuring American grill, seafood and favorite Mexican dishes, served al fresco on the beautiful orchard patio, indoor in the sala, in the privacy of a guest room or out on the veranda. A fabulous brunch is also served on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
At the saloon bar —the oldest in San Diego (1870)!—the bartender gladly mixes one of his favorite old drinks, served there in the 1870s, as well as a full selection of beers, wines and modern cocktails.
There’s live music in the air every Wednesday through Sunday at The Cosmo with many special nights of music throughout the week and weekends, featuring American Songbook, jazz, piano, guitar, harmonica, harp. Check the website for the latest!
With the Cosmo’s central location, guests can easily experience modern-day San Diego as well. Close by, they will find SeaWorld, beautiful beaches, Mission Valley (shopping), Downtown San Diego (everything!), the harbor and embarcadero, Little Italy (restaurants), Balboa Park (museums) and more. With a short walk, guests can catch the train, the trolley and the bus for transportation around town and up the coast. Not that there’s any reason to leave Old Town, with its multitude of shops and fabulous restaurants, and the always-entertaining Cygnet Theatre. Abundant free parking is available throughout Old Town.
The Cosmo is one of the most important 19th-century buildings in the state and one of the most important restorations ever done in San Diego because there was so much original fabric still there including trim, doors, door fenestrations, and windows. State historian Victor Walsh believes that the renovation of The Cosmopolitan is an unprecedented historic restoration; few other buildings in the state rival its scale (over 10,000 sq. ft.), blending 19th-century Mexican adobe and American wood-framing construction techniques.
Originally constructed as the home of San Diego pioneer and early settler Juan Bandini between 1827 and 1829, the building was later adapted and converted into a hotel, apartment building, olive factory, and restaurant. It is not only a rarity because of its long history, but it has also been associated with some of California’s most important people and events, and its distinctive architectural character helps tell the story of the birthplace of California.
Dogs are welcome to join dining guests on their beautiful orchard patio.
Banquets & Weddings at Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant
2660 Calhoun St.
Price: Call for pricing
The Cosmopolitan Restaurant is great for banquets, parties and events. They are dedicated to the melding of modern tastes with traditional foods of the 1870s. Seafood, poultry, beef, pork and locally grown produce - the same elements enjoyed by San Diego's first settlers - are all available on their menu in savory dishes enjoyed today.
Happy Hour at Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant
Special Happy Hour Menu includes $4.00 for beer and house wines. $4.50 for House and Well Drinks and discounted appetizers.