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The Bayfront Hilton in San Diego has exceeded NPS expectations and set a new record for Hilton goodness. Lets see why.

One view from 2935

One view from 2935

The other view from 2935

The other view from 2935

Getting here on Virgin was very good indeed and a huge step up over united. On time, relaxed, room to work, wifi. You go Virgin.

Room 2935 is a hamster cage design, but it has two banks of windows with a gorgeous view of the city. A very nice room indeed.

Windows in 2935

Windows in 2935

From the door 2935

From the door 2935

And the shower is glass. NPS approves.

Hilton has a glass shower.

Hilton has a glass shower.

One of Kimpton’s fun hacks is putting a fish (usually named Walter) in your room for your stay. Hilton is trying to go there by putting virtual fish on the TV. Not quite the same.

And now some good things and bad things about this Hilton.

Real hangers = good

Real hangers = good

iPod dock = good Power by bed = good

iPod dock = good
Power by bed = good

Water for sale = bad

Water for sale = bad

All in all we’ll give this hotel four showerheads, which is a definite step up for a major chain. Most excellent!

In other San Diego news, El Dorado bar has seriously great cocktails as well as a bunch of antique collection bourbon and rye on hand (real Stagg from multiple years for example). Brionnie Briem made a superb and masterful Sazarac (with Sazarac 18). The experimental cocktail she whipped up was only meh, but hey you can’t have everything!

Experiment
2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
t of fallernum (too sweet!! too sweet!!)
2 dashes Angostura
lemon zest

Lou and Mickey’s is still a great place for a steak. Amazingly, they can handle a group dinner of over 20 without a hitch (perfectly cooked everything). Well done chef!

The secret speakeasy Noble Experiment is an oasis of hip in San Diego. Superb entrance, great skull decor, and best of all seriously good cocktails. My spoiled cocktail geek friends and home brewers all loved it.

We were served by Jesse Ross who was happy to play. Though my friends started with a Nevada (nice to see that on the list), but I went straight for the fun.

Pine and Rye
2 oz sazarac 6 rye
.25 oz sapping (a piney French concoction)
.75 oz Dolin’s dry
heavy dashes of Pernod Absinthe

This drink was so similar to what I have been drinking at home lately (the old 48) that it was a shock! Serve on a big cube with a healthy slice of orange peel. Boozy deliciousness.

Non-cyn Thriller
1.5 oz Whistle pig rye
.75 oz Port
.75 oz Campari
dashes of Chocolate Mole Bitters

We ended the evening with some 2014 George T Stagg. Hotter than the last couple of years, but something unbalanced about it.

The evening was just super fantastic. Do not miss Noble Experiment if you find yourself in San Diego.

What happens when you drive down to the Stick? You have to stay at the crappy Hilton in Wilmington, NC. Um, yay? Here we are again. But we must say that this room 829 is better than the junior suite from years past. Only three of us crammed in here this time.

Nice view on the river side. If you like WWII battleships especially.

Boat.

Boat.

The hamster cage persists at the Hilton. Nice to finance Paris’ nonsense.

Please pick a cage.  They are all the same.  This one is 829.

Please pick a cage. They are all the same. This one is 829.

Two tiny beds.

Two tiny beds.

Please make yourself small and comfortable in this bed.

Please make yourself small and comfortable in this bed.

The other half of the room.

The other half of the room.

Of course the shower is plastic. And the sink is curvy.

Yuck.

Yuck.

Anyway, screw this Hilton and its awfulness. On to the rest of Wilmington (which is a delightful little town for the most part.

First we stopped by Circa 1922 for some average cocktails. They make a mean French 75, but their ice needs work. We made the most watery Corpse Reviver #2 ever and followed that with a drink w/o ice.

French 75
1 oz gin (London dry)
brown sugar cube
.5 oz lemon juice
champagne to top
Mix the first three ingredients and add champagne in a flute. Lemon twist.

Dinner was at the not so cleverly named “The Little Dipper” fondue restaurant. Meh. My parents made way better fondue in the ’70s.

Never fear, though, there is a cover band called the “Breakfast Club.” They played Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Ah. What more does Wilmington need?

No stars whatsoever for the Hilton. They should burn this place down and start over. But tomorrow is the Stick.

This hotel is very nice, especially if you are a lady of a certain age.

But they have fatal flaws. Lets list them just for fun.

FLAW 1: They apparently do not have a computer. So they have no idea that I like the “high 03” room category. In fact, they seem to have no idea that I have been here before at all. Hey Hilton, everybody else has computers these days and CRM systems. You should get one!

FLAW 2: Maybe they are trying to save money, because if they charged themselves for Internet access on the computer that they don’t have, they would go bankrupt. There is just no excuse for no free net in 2013.

Argh.  Internet, water and oxygen cost $$ at the Conrad.

Argh. Internet, water and oxygen cost $$ at the Conrad.

FLAW 3: There is nowhere to plug in your ipod here in room 1021.

This speaker no ipod jack.

This speaker no ipod jack haveth.

When I checked in, the checkin woman at the front desk seemed put off by my pointing out that they should have a computer and know what kind of room I like. (The hotel is overrun by Canadians from Eli Lilly in for a sales confab who apparently took all of the good rooms.) Oh well. She was not friendly at all. Then the room keys failed multiple times. But super friendly Jacob Barnes did what he could to salvage the situation. Jacob to the rescue! Good work Jacob, you should get a job at a better hotel chain.

But wait, there’s more.

FLAW 4: At exactly 3:15am this morning, some carousing party animals showed up on the 11th floor above my room. They made huge amounts of noise until 4:15am. Rude yes, but they were drunk and having a good time. Hotel management remained blithely unaware. I tried to put a pillow over my head.

Here is the rectangular bliss that is room 1021.

1021 is tight but well appointed.

1021 is tight but well appointed.

No more showerheads for the Conrad Hilton. Next time I am in Indianapolis, I plan to try the Alexander.

Never fear, all is not lost; the Libertine is still just down the street. Superior mixology and excellent fun, even when overrun by Canadian pharmaceutical types.

Barman Randy Gray kept his wits even while under complete deluge. Even Chef Paul got in on mixing drinks (which was kind of a riot to watch). Randy made time for this experimental beverage which we will call the ho hum (it still needs work)
1 oz hum (too much)
.75 cynar
.5 montenegro
.5 fernet branca
.5 lime
Absinthe rinse on glass. Stir down. Strain.

I have never heard tell of a drink with such a crazy variety of bitters. And it was almost good. We’ll see what we can do to make the ho more respectable at the home bar.

Bacon flight: 3 types, jowl, duck, regular

Bacon flight: 3 types, jowl, duck, regular

Bacon flight. Nuff said.

This posting written and posted over a cell phone wireless net.

Well pickled okra anyway. In a martini. At circa 1922 which is a pretty good restaurant in Wilmington, NC, but nowhere near as good as they think they are. (The Dixie Grill is still the best thing in town.)

Okra martini (pickled) from Circa 1922

Okra martini (pickled) from Circa 1922

Okra beats this.

Rectangular building paying homage to parking lots and puddles.

Rectangular building paying homage to parking lots and puddles.

But you already knew how I felt about the Wilmington Hilton. Somebody build a real hotel down here!!

Preferably one without bathroom consoles like this.

Curvey.

Curvey.

One showerhead for Wilmington Hilton. Only stay here if you have to.

Hiltons? You can have them all. But if you have to come to Indy, you might as well stay at the Conrad. It’s the highest most five-star link in the Hilton family, and it has everything required by the moneyed graying class.

CIMG0360

Room 1503 looks strikingly familiar. But this time I had to pay to get upgraded to a suite. Alas. No Hilton kung fu in noplasticshowers land.

Bed room is separate from the...

Bed room is separate from the…

sitting room.

sitting room.

or the couch

or the couch

Nice shower cube with a very strange shower head device thing.

Glass cube good.

Glass cube good.

Weird shower head?  Not so much.

Weird shower head? Not so much.

No free net. No free water. No free upgrade. The Conrad is hereby demoted to three showerheads. You guys can do better than that!

Stick it in the bathtub.

Stick it in the bathtub.

Hopefully a visit to the Libertine next door will lift my spirits. Well something about spirits anyway.

Indeed, we concocted a Hum Cocktail as follows:
1.5 hum
.75 Lime
.5 Angustora
.5 Campari
top with soda

The Libertine is a blast.

You're not in Kansas, Toto, you're in Indiana.

You’re not in Kansas, Toto, you’re in Indiana.