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February 20, 2005
LUXURIOUS PORTAL TO A BYGONE ERA,
BRITT SCRIPPS INN OPENED FEBRUARY 14, 2005
Historic Britts Residence, Circa 1887, Transformed Into Elegant Nine Room Inn
SAN DIEGO – Valentine’s Day saw the rebirth of one of San Diego’s most resplendent historic landmarks. The Queen Anne-style Victorian mansion, built 118 years ago for the then princely sum of $3,000, has benefited from a $6 million investment resulting in a grand Inn with nine rooms that marry old-world styling and elegance with modern conveniences.
Located just a block from expansive Balboa Park, guests at Britt Scripps Inn will feel transported to the 19 th century the moment they gaze upon this charming multi-gabled house with its striking turret and wrap-around porch. Guests enter first into a vestibule area with 12-foot-high ceilings. Ornate wooden-beaded fretwork accents the hallways that lead to the opulent parlor, quaint dining room and stunning hand-carved oak grand staircase with adjacent music alcove, where an historic Steinway Art Case piano, circa 1883, resides. All of this is framed by a dazzling two-story stain glass wall comprised of three panels depicting morning, afternoon and evening settings.
With names like The Library, Renaissance, Governors and Gothic, each of the Inn’s nine rooms is uniquely adorned in period-appropriate furnishings that will have guests waking and wondering if H.G. Wells and his time machine abducted them during the night. Each room’s bathroom is equally adept at bringing the 1880s to mind, with many sporting claw-foot bathtubs and pedestal sinks.
Artfully hidden in each room is the 21 st century, in the form of high speed, wireless Internet access, flat screen televisions and multi-line telephones with all the bells and whistles. The bathrooms even have towel-heating racks.
To offset this jolt of necessary convenience and reality, the Inn’s amenities return to the age of overwhelming opulence with 1,000 thread count bed linens that envelop and caress each guest, Aviana bathrobes with felt-like lining, and plush area rugs and wall coverings.
Just as the guest rooms at the Inn are all referred to by their names instead of numbers, so too are the guests, in this return to an era of hospitality where personalized service was not just truly personal, but impeccable. The Inn’s staff have but a handful of rooms and guests to cater to, affording the luxury of addressing even the of smallest of guests’ desires.
Guests’ personalized experience isn’t limited to interaction with the Inn’s staff – they are afforded the opportunity to connect with fellow travelers twice each day. Each morning begins with a complimentary full breakfast including homemade breads, pastries and signature teas and coffee enjoyed by guests in the dining room, parlor or porch.
Late afternoon presents another opportunity to swap stories with fellow guests when complimentary wine and cheese are served in the parlor. It’s the perfect start to an evening on the town or trip to any of the area’s fine restaurants. The parlor is stocked with games like chess, checkers and backgammon and the 85-key vintage Steinway in the adjacent room always beckons those with an inkling for the ivory. The atmosphere is conducive to leaving the modern day impersonal world of traveling behind and returning to a time when the people you met while traveling were often as fascinating as the locale.
Retaining the charm and ambiance was the primary goal when hotelier Gordon Hattersley, III purchased the property several years ago and embarked on the restoration that is evident today. Painstaking care was taken to preserve elements of the structure that had weathered the century. Indeed much of the common area of the house is not much different than it was over a hundred years ago. The original golden-oak, hand-carved staircase still curves gently past a magnificent three panel two-story stain glass window that was the talk of San Diego in 1887.
The hand-leaded stain glass occupies much of the west side of the Inn and was designed to follow the arc of sun as it marched toward sunset. The panels depict morning, noon and night as experienced by a variety of aviary wildlife including doves, swallows, an owl and a stork - even a toothy bat hanging in the moonlight. The jewel-like stain glass murals project the afternoon sunlight onto the interior walls of the Inn, creating a kaleidoscope of red and blue prisms that dance until sunset.
Even the outdoor space at the Inn has historic significance. The giant Camphor Tree that shades the Carriage House where the Inn’s ninth room is located is said to have been planted in 1865 making it the first Camphor planted in North America. The intimate grass-planted yard is highlighted by an arbor, providing the perfect backdrop for weddings and social gatherings.
Guests of the Inn also have complimentary access to the PureFitness Sports Club located in downtown San Diego, just minutes from the Inn. Enjoy all the benefits of a state-of-the-art fitness facility with panoramic views of San Diego and the Bay. The club offers cardio and weight rooms, Jacuzzi spa and sauna, and an array of classes including spinning and Pilates.
Britts Scripps Inn’s lineage reads like a who’s who of Southern California life in the late 1800s. The home was built as one of San Diego’s most expensive and lavish residences by Eugene Britt, a successful water rights attorney in 1887. When the Britt family relocated to Los Angeles around the turn of the century (the dates range from 1896 to 1901), E.W. Scripps and his family purchased the property to be their “townhome” while building a ranch in the Miramar area, a precursor to today’s Scripps Ranch community. The Scripps family name is still highly esteemed and can be seen on newspapers (Scripps Howard), oceanic research institutes, hospitals and colleges throughout San Diego.
The Scripps’ held the property for 40 years, during which time it had varied uses including as an antique business, a boarding house and a tea parlor. A weight control doctor held the property for much of the later 1900s, including a time when the property was leased out and run as Britt House, an upscale Bed & Breakfast. Law offices occupied the structure prior to the makeover to Britt Scripps Inn. The mansion was officially designated Historic Site #52 by the City of San Diego in 1971.
The property, located in the Banker’s Hill district of San Diego, has seen 118-years of history take place outside its gates. San Diego’s famous 1200-acre Balboa Park is just one block away. Guests could easily spend an entire week exploring all the park has to offer – it is home to the San Diego Zoo, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, The Globe Theater, Museum of Man, Aerospace Museum, Railroad Museum, Automotive Museum, a variety of art museums and much more. The Inn is located just five minutes from San Diego International Airport and downtown San Diego with its historic Gaslamp District.
The Inn ’s nine rooms are available from $205.00 to $515.00 per night. The rates include the morning breakfast and the late afternoon/early evening wine and hors d’oeuvres. Reservations can be made by calling 888-881-1991 (toll free), 619-230-1991 or via the web site www.brittscripps.com.