Sunny San Diego is consistently rated one of the best cities in the U.S. for yoga—so what better destination could there be for a wellness vacation than this laid-back beach city? From sound therapy and deep meditation to inspirational yoga rooms and health food galore, San Diego has just what you need to slow down.
My recent weekend in San Diego, hosted by the Kimpton Solamar, proved that you don’t have to go out of the country for a mental detox. You can achieve that zen state of mind with a nice big hotel suite, a unique holistic health club and some healthy food options. Here’s how I did it:
1. Book an experiential yoga hotel room at the Kimpton Solamar
Reserving a special yoga suite, Room 301, at the Kimpton Solamar for your wellness retreat grants you, among other things: a 30-minute yoga video and a beautiful space to follow it, a gratitude wall (see below), and bottled healthy cocktails from the hotel’s JSix restaurant. You can contribute to the gratitude wall by listing what you’re most grateful for.
The room was designed to give guests the focus needed to begin or continue their wellness journey. It’s part of the Kimpton Stay Human Project in which 20 Kimpton hotels are taking part. The project’s aim is to help guests forge meaningful ties with other guests, experience their destinations, and challenge preconceived notions about travel.
I stayed in Room 301 for two nights, and my stay was rejuvenating. It was awesome having enough room to stretch out and do yoga day and night. Often, I find there’s not enough space to stretch out in a hotel room. And who wants to do yoga in a hotel gym? I used the 30-minute yoga video at least twice a day each day I was there.
More on yoga in Room 301: The provided yoga video is meant for all levels. It offers modifications throughout, so if you’re more experienced, you can adapt the practice to your level. (I’d avoid doing yoga in the room during the evenings when the pool bar is open, since sometimes you can hear the music from your room.)
Other unique elements of the room included essential oil sprays (organic lavender/lemongrass and organic peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, and lemon) and Pura Vida bracelets. I really appreciated these unique touches, which helped remind me to make time for yoga/meditation or just be grateful and reflect on my life. A few weeks after my stay, I still find myself wearing my Pura Vida bracelet often. It reminds me to take a few extra moments to myself, even on my busy days.
How to book Room 301
The Kimpton Solamar is in San Diego’s East Village on the corner of J Street and 6th Street. Room 301 (from $399/night) is available to book until October 31.
2. Take a sound therapy class at Saffron & Sage
Owner Cristin Smith started Saffron & Sage, a holistic wellness studio in San Diego’s Little Italy, for busy entrepreneurs after she noticed there were no affordable holistic healthcare healing places with the therapies she believed in. She found that the available offerings existed for the wealthy, like wellness resorts with rates around $10,000/week. Even though Saffron & Sage is a membership-based holistic health club, anyone can book a treatment, therapy or class.
As I walked up the steps to my Saffron & Sage “New Moon Circle” class, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by the quotes on the steps and the smell of sage as I walked in. First, I met with a practitioner who gave me acupuncture with massage. She didn’t start the treatment with acupuncture (as many would do) but began with massage, taking time to identify the areas of my body that needed the most help.
The new moon of Libra brings new beginnings and a blank slate, so our practitioner Chelcy told my class of 15 that it was the perfect time to set intentions, decide what we want to create in our lives, and make a path forward to achieve it. Each person sat on a yoga mat in a circle and started by professing his or her reason for being there. We then took time to journal our intentions. That was followed by Kundalini yoga, which incorporates movement, chanting and breath work. Allowing the body to have the resulting vibrations and energy, we were told, opens our bodies to whatever we want to manifest in our lives. Breath work helped to settle the nervous system and enter a deep meditation.
Finally, it was time for deeper meditation with sound therapy. While gongs sounded in the room, we received acupuncture on our foreheads and ears. The sound enhanced the sensory experience of the acupuncture and allowed us to achieve a deep meditative state without trying hard.
Note: Obviously “New Moon Circle” class is only offered around new moons—and similar classes around full moons—so if it’s not available when you’re in town, you might check out “Sound Bath,” “Restorative Yoga” or “Cleansing Meditation.”
3. Eat and drink well (like vodka green juice and a “Millennial Sando”)
At the Kimpton Solamar
There are lots of healthy food options in San Diego, and many are at or near the Kimpton Solamar. First, look no further than the hotel’s restaurant, JSix. The restaurant just scored a new chef who remixed the menu by incorporating southern California comfort food with East-Coast-style seafood options. Menu options include the “Chilled Spanish Octopus,” with fingerling potatoes, pickled sea beans, summer fruit, whipped buttermilk, Serrano ham and Kalamata olives. There’s also the “Bucatini & Burrata Crab,” tossed with corn, heirloom tomato, pea shoots, anchovy, and fried bread crumbs.
The hotel’s rooftop bar, Upper East, is another place for great healthy bites and drinks. I had a special green juice to my yoga suite from the bar. And this was not just any green juice. It had vodka in it and of course kale, celery, cucumber, aloe vera, turmeric, and pineapple. At first I wasn’t so sure about gulping it all down after yoga and meditation, but after a sip, I was convinced it was a good way to unwind.
Happy hour at Upper East: Oh, and don’t forget the best-kept secret in town: its champagne happy hour. You can snag a glass of G.H. Mumm on the roof top for $5 dollars from 5pm to 6pm every Wednesday! I feel like it’s hard to find even a glass of house wine on happy hour for $5 anymore. Best champagne happy hour in downtown!
Beyond the Kimpton Solamar
Around the corner from the hotel, Spill the Beans not only has great coffee and bagels but also teas and a seasonal kombucha on tap, too. Be soooo millennial and check out the “Millennial Sando,” a choice of bagel with avocado, chia, sesame, flax, sunflower, poppy seeds, and sea salt.
Founded in Venice, California, in 2016, Tocaya now has locations beyond L.A., in Arizona and San Diego’s Gaslamp District, serving up its signature “Modern Mexican” cuisine. I only had time to try the keto bowl, with diablo chicken, Spanish-style cauliflower rice, peppers, Brussels sprouts, avocado, black olives, and salsa. This cauliflower rice bowl was even better with signature hot sauces: Serrano (garlic, cucumber and lime blend) and habanero (organic carrot, citrus and garlic).
About 30 minutes from downtown San Diego is a little juice place called Elixer. I found myself driving up to Del Mar after the beach. I was actually on the lookout for pretty views and the California juice chain Nekter, but I stumbled upon this little shop first. I’m so glad I did. Elixer has convinced me that I now like very spicy green juice. If you can handle some spice, the “Green Jalapeño Lime” made-to-order juice is awesome. If you’re slightly scared of the jalapeño, they can pull some of the seeds out to mellow it down. This spicy juice was exactly what I needed after a beach walk.
For more on the Kimpton Solamar, visit hotelsolamar.com. All photos credited to Caitlin Martin.