The Urban Boutique Hotel is a new face in Little Italy. The 55-room inn is the result of a makeover of the former Villa Caterina residential hotel at 1654 Columbia St., and officially opened Jan. 31.
“Basically it was a residential hotel, but the rooms were small, at 150 to 250 square feet, and there weren’t kitchens, so it wasn’t really that conducive to long-term living,” said Todd Ferrari, owner of Urban Boutique. “So the hotel is a better use of the space.”
Urban Boutique Hotel’s rooms range from 150 to 325 square feet, and contain a mix of king and full-size beds. Ferrari said all of the bathrooms have been remodeled, and there is new carpeting, paint and other cosmetic updates.
The lobby was also redone to create a more open and trendy space, with artwork by Joshua Helland.
The price-point for a room varies by season, going at a premium in the summer. The lowest rate is $89 per night, with a typical range between $90 and $150, except during big events like Comic-Con.
The entire update and change process began about six months ago, so Ferrari said they haven’t begun advertising yet, but have had a great response nonetheless.
“The response has been fantastic,” Ferrari said. “We opened Jan.31, way ahead of where we thought we would be. We thought downtown San Diego was underserved with that price range, and so are hoping we found a little niche here.”
He said so far the clientele has been varied, though a large percentage is young couples and there is a high international presence. The four-story building, small compared to many hotels, lends itself to a more intimate vibe, which is what Ferrari aimed for.
“I think people are looking for more of a boutique experience than monster hotels, and don’t want to have to walk a mile and half to get to their room,” he said. “You lose a few amenities, but it’s a much more homey kind of feel, and that’s what we tried to do — create a homey atmosphere.”