Formerly known as the Park Manor Suites, the Inn at the Park (525 Spruce St., 619-296-0057), has been popular with gay and lesbian guests for years. The striking early 1920s building rises seven stories above lower Hillcrest, close to Bankers Hill, and affords expansive views of Balboa Park, just steps away - in fact, the many park museums and cultural attractions are within a 20-minute walk. The hotel contains 75 spacious rooms and suites with fully equipped kitchens, and rates include Continental breakfast in the rooftop restaurants and Wi-Fi; there's also a guest laundry on-site. These amenities, as well as the atmospheric restaurants and bars, make this a great option for longer stays, and proximity to Hillcrest's lively gay bars and restaurants is another big draw. New management has steadily modernized the vintage rooms, but they still have plenty of character, and rates here are well below what you'll pay for a similarly sized room and amenities in downtown San Diego.
The lounge-restaurants at the hotel each offer their own distinct vibe. Downstairs off of the lobby, the Piano Bar adjoins the Inn at the Park Restaurant and is a great spot to listen to the pop piano renderings of different local musicians. Upstairs in the hotel's 7th-floor penthouse space, Top of the Park, you can sip cocktails while enjoying one of the best views of Balboa Park in the city. Generally, the Friday-night happy hour draws the most sizable gay contingent, but there's always a good mix in both of the hotel's dining and drinking spaces.