Esquire Magazine Names San Diego's 78-Year-Old The Lafayette Hotel As "New Hotel Of The Year"

April 9, 2024

Esquire Magazine has named San Diego's 78-year-old The Lafayette Hotel as the publication's 2024 New Hotel of the Year.

San Diego's Consortium Holdings unveiled its $31 million renovation of The Lafayette Hotel & Club in San Diego's North Park/University Heights. The hospitality group purchased the historic property in early 2021 for $25,815,000 then closed it in fall 2022 to perform an extensive remodel.

"The connective tissue between all the disparate elements of this fever dream of a party palace is obsession and iconoclastically superb taste," wrote Esquire Magazine's Kevin Sintumuang. "That is the MO of CH Properties, the company responsible for the majority of San Diego’s coolest bars and restaurants, from Youngblood to Raised by Wolves."
The Lafayette is now a decadent, boutique hotel with more than 130 guest rooms. The space will eventually house eight food & beverage establishments, including a posh lobby bar & cafe, a 24-hour classic American diner, a luxurious Parisian-style restaurant, a live music venue, an old-school bowling alley, a swanky new pool bar, an intimate chef's table dining experience, and an Oaxacan-inspired eatery & mezcal bar.

"No corporate board or focus group is going to tell you it’s a good idea to reassemble an abandoned Mexican church for the interior of an on-site Mexican restaurant or to build a two-lane bowling alley in your basement bar in homage to the final scene in There Will Be Blood," continued Sintumuang. "It’s these outlandish ideas that have transformed a property that started its life in the forties as a hotel serving the likes of Bob Hope—and, it’s rumored, Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy—into a prime example of what a hotel can be when it thinks of hospitality not as giving the guests what they think they want but as showing them what’s pretty damn cool. And it turns out, a hotel in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood is pretty damn cool."
Prior to Consortium Holdings purchasing the property in March 2020, The Lafayette Hotel was owned by developer Jay Wentz of JCG Development since he purchased it in 2004 for $11 million. Following the acquisition, the hotel underwent a $6 million renovation. The Lafayette was originally known as Imig Manor and built in 1946 by former car dealer and developer Larry Imig. The hotel was then purchased in the 1950s by hotel magnate and then-San Diego Chargers owner Conrad Hilton. By 1960, I-8 replaced El Cajon Boulevard as the main east-west connector of San Diego, and hotel operations ceased due to the loss of through traffic on the boulevard. The building then passed through several owners until March 2004.

The Lafayette currently operates multiple dining and drinking establishments, including the Pool Bar, Lobby Bar, The Gutter, Beginner's Diner, Quixote modern Mexican restaurant and Lou Lou's Jungle Room live music venue and supper club. A spa concept inspired by Russian, Roman and Turkish bathhouses is also being installed at the hotel, as well as Le Horse Continental Room, a fine-dining restaurant inspired by Old World luxury. 
In addition to finishing its projects at The Lafayette and renovating Starlite in San Diego's Middletown, Consortium Holdings is also in the final stages of construction of Leila, a 5,000+ square-foot Persian bar & restaurant opening later this year on 30th Street in North Park. The company is also in the process of overhauling the 57-year-old La Avenida Inn in Coronado, where it is adding a new Mediterranean brasserie and reservation-only oyster & champagne bar.

CH Projects founder Arsalun Tafazoli also recently acquired six properties on on Kettner, Juniper and India at the northern end of Little Italy at a cost of $13 million in order to build Dreamboat, a boutique hotel, two restaurants, offices and a wellness center. He is currently appealing a decision by the San Diego Airport Authority that his proposed Little Italy hotel project violates land use regulations due to its presence in a flight path.

The Lafayette Hotel & Club is located at 2223 El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego's North Park. For more information, visit