Gregory Peck Award Recipient Laurence Fishburne and SDIFF festival CEO & Artistic Director, Co-Founder Tonya Mantooth | Photo: Courtesy of SDIFF

On a recent trip to catch the 18th annual San Diego International Film Festival that featured two opening night galas of top Oscar contenders JoJo Rabbit by Taika Waititi, and Scorcese’s The Irishman. The festival definitely gets bigger and better each year, with the latest film screenings, elaborate galas and awards, with a key focus on international cinema.

However, this year the star of the show was the new luxury Carté Hotel, part of Curio Collection by Hilton™. The hotel that opened in September is perfectly situated, within walking distance of all the film festivities at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego’s Little Italy district.

Inspired by European heritage, Carté boasts 16 floors with 246 guest rooms and suites that feature fiber Internet and 55” 4K TVs with Smartphone streaming capabilities, in addition to refrigerators and luxury bedding and linens, definitely catering to the luxury traveler.

Spectacular city and water views, a heated outdoor saltwater pool and Jacuzzi with stylish cabana seating on the fourth floor creates a pristine atmosphere in the urban setting. The service is outstanding from the curbside valet to the front desk and concierge to the food and beverage staff.

What’s been the feedback since the opening? “The reception so far has been very positive and has highlighted the very “story” we intended to write, including the location, design and “feel” of the Carté Hotel as soon as you walk in,” says Henri Birmele, the hotel’s General Manager. “Positive feedback so far also mentions the team members and service culture, which is another critical item we spoke about from the beginning as being a very critical part of the entire story.”

Carté also offers over 8,500 square feet of event space, with seven on-site private event options, accommodating small to mid-size events. The state-of-the-art meeting spaces include 80” flat screen TVs, fiber internet and floor-to-ceiling windows.

A 28,000 square foot Fit Athletic Club Little Italy is scheduled to open this month offering exclusive gym access to its members and hotel guests, including fitness classes, full-service locker rooms and specialty equipment.

Carté offers three unique food and beverage options, led by Executive Chef Cesar Oceguera, with its cornerstone Watercolors, a full service restaurant that features sustainable, local seafood and serves a sea-to-table menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant offers up a well-curated menu and daily happy hour.

The full-service wine bar and specialty spirit tasting room Fonte di Vino showcases a spirit-driven tour of the region, with a menu featuring local wineries and distilleries from Southern California and Mexico.

“When I sat with colleagues to create the menu, we all spoke about our favorite foods and what being with friends and family around the dinner table is all about. They all shared their excitement when ordering lots of small bites and shareables,” comments Chef Cesar Oceguera. “When writing the menu, I was super excited and let my ideas and taste buds do the writing. I also took advice from my wife (which is always a good thing). We love going to restaurants and trying the entire appetizer menu. I feel like times have changed and most customers that go to new restaurants will, for the most part, try appetizers instead of having a full meal or an entrée. By having a seasonally conscious menu, it’s definitely fun being able to tweak the menu with seasonal changes or a fun creative idea. My team is also very creative and will take a traditional dish as inspiration, creating a small dish that is full of flavor and geared towards sharing.”

Not to be missed is the rooftop lounge and bar Above Ash Social, an open concept space featuring beautiful water and city views (a must visit during sunset hour!), fire pits, curated cocktails and a cinema style LED TV screen. Perfect for an Oscar viewing party, perhaps? Just a thought…. One thing’s for sure, Carté provides the ultimate comfort zone in the urban jungle.

Address: 401 West Ash Street San Diego, CA 92101

Instagram: @cartehotel

Facebook: @CarteHotel

Twitter: @cartehotelsd

Photos: Haley Hill Photography