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Paying Homage to ‘Rabbitville’

By Amanda Christensen

Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
The lobby of Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter || Photo by Autumn Murphy

When the team at Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter prepared for the $22.5 million renovation of the property that began last December, there was one piece of local history they wanted the designers to highlight. According to local historians, Alonzo Horton arrived in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter neighborhood in 1863 with the dream of building a large city—and the area at the time, which was undeveloped, was referred to affectionately as “Rabbitville” because the only living creatures calling it home were wild hares.

Today, the Gaslamp Quarter neighborhood is thriving with a vibrant culture. The Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter’s renovation was completed this past June, and Texas-based design firm waldrop+nichols led the renovation, creating “a contemporary, casual California aesthetic featuring artistic and playful elements of the Gaslamp Quarter’s early inhabitants,” notes Francesca Ramirez, general manager of the property. Hotel eventgoers are first greeted by an impressive 225-pound rabbit sculpture with a sleek metal finish that sits by the reception desk. Visit the new Wild Hare Bar Garden for locally sourced California cuisine alongside rotating craft beers, a diverse wine selection, and crafted cocktails named after rabbit puns like “Lucky Foot” and “I’m All Ears.” The restaurant offers full buyouts for groups of up to 120 attendees, and the hotel itself features 16,000 square feet of function space.

“The new restaurant is my favorite part of the renovation as it completes the designer’s intention of bringing everyone together,” adds Ramirez. “I encourage all to go down the Rabbitville hole to enjoy each other’s company, the California vibe, and our delectable California cuisine.”