Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant

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Guests are encouraged to write down their experiences in a notebook.


The historic Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant is a fully restored gem of the original 1870 Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant that was built by stage coach entrepreneur Albert Seeley. Its Greek revival style has been reinstated, and the popular 2nd floor balcony brings today’s guests a wonderful view of the activities that take place in the Old Town Square.

The first floor is the original space for Bandini’s Adobe. All the former rooms of that establishment have become the common rooms, while the ten guest rooms are found on the second floor. All the rooms, except Room 10 and 11, open up to the fabulous balcony. Each room has its own theme, with antiques. One guest stated on Trip Advisor: “It was like staying in a historic museum, complete with fine antique furniture and accessories.”




The original grand adobe was built in 1828-1829 for wealthy cattle rancher Don Juan Bandini and his wife and three daughters. The Bandinis enjoyed their social status, hosting many dance parties, and their adobe was the place for a social event.

The original Bandini home was a one floor, Spanish-style, elegant adobe with thick walls and a thatch roof. Its foundation was made of large round river rocks that were four and a half feet tall. It was made of 10,000 adobes bricks that weighed 60 lbs each.

During the 1840s, many Californios who made their money from cattle ranching had a hard time adjusting to an American merchant-based economy. By the 1850s, cattle rancher Juan Bandini saw his wealth fade, forcing him to sell his forever home. He died a few months after. It also broke the heart of his youngest daughter, Ysidora.

By 1869, the former Bandini forever home was a real fixer-upper opportunity. It got a new lease on life when entrepreneur Albert Seeley, an American Stagecoach mover and shaker, bought it for $2,000,  seeing the possibilities of it becoming a stagecoach stop and a place to stay. With his wife’s inheritance, they renovated and built a second story for the hotel with a Greek Revival style that just sat on top of the first story. They called it The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant. After they opened, they let Bandini’s youngest daughter, Ysidora, come and visit her old room.

The downstairs parlor was enlarged to become the dining area. Other rooms included a saloon, sitting room, billiards room, barber shop and a past office. The cherry on top was the balcony that wrapped around the entire 2nd floor, giving guests front row seats to all the activities that took place on the town square. Not surprisingly, Albert and Emily Seeley became the hosts of the social events of the town. Bandini’s three daughters probably celebrated their weddings here as well.

The rise and popularity of the railroad took a huge chunk out of the stagecoach business. After a disastrous fire in old town, everything of a political, social and cultural nature was moved west to the current San Diego downtown area, putting the final nail in the coffin for Seeley’s stagecoach stop and hotel.

In 1890, the building became an olive canning factory. Over time it slid into disrepair because there was no will on the part of the owners to maintain it. Its future didn’t look too promising, but old family ties eventually saved the day.

In 1928 this now very creaky building was rescued by Cave J. Couts Jr., son of Ysidora, a grandson of Don Juan Bandini. Couts wanted to make it a memorial for his mother, Ysidora Bandini de Couts. He put a boatload of money into this woebegone yet well-loved family place. Using the Steamboat Revival architecture style, he created a hotel and restaurant, calling it “The Miramar”.

The next owners, James H. and Nora Cardwell, bought the Miramar in 1945. The property got another face-lift when the Cardwell’s son, Frank renovated and modernized the property during the 1950s.

In 1968, when Old Town San Diego became a California State Park, the Cardwell family sold the Miramar Hotel and Restaurant building to the state. The historical building received a boatload of historical excavation, and was restored in the style of the original 1870 Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant.

The new Cosmopolitan reopened for business in 2010, thanks to a “three-year, multi-million dollar restoration project, overseen by the state of California and the hotel’s new proprietor, Chuck Ross of Old Town Family Hospitality Corp.”



Changing circumstances can cause people to leave their forever home. When they enter the spirit world, they sometimes like to stay in their favorite home in this world.

Because of changing fortunes, the grand adobe’s original owner, Don Juan Bandini and his family had to sell their forever home to pay bills. It was emotionally very hard on Don Juan and his youngest daughter, Ysidora.

Residual or active energy can attach to items that were nearest to or belonged to the entity while alive.

In one of The Cosmopolitan Hotel’s rooms, there is a hand carved bed and its matching dresser that once belonged to a 12 year old girl who died in the bed. Her father carved her likeness into the head board as a remembrance. Uh oh.




Staff and visitors have had a lot of paranormal experiences throughout the years. Guests are encouraged to write down their experiences in a notebook.

Most well-known findings: In 2012, Ghost Adventures investigated The Cosmopolitan Hotel and caught some hard evidence.

Spirit of Ysidora

She still likes to visit her old special place, Room 11, fiddle with the electricity, and play little jokes on the guests who stay in her old room.

Likes to sit on the bed like she used to do while alive.

Likes to be helpful. Moves items around the room and puts them in what she considers to be better places.

Perhaps she is the one who also likes to hang out in the old first floor rooms.

Feels comfortable staying or visiting here, because her son, Cave, had fixed it up in 1928 in memory of her.

Spirit of Don Juan Bandini

Keeps a fatherly eye on the activities/events that take place in his favorite place in this world.

He especially likes receptions, parties and social events, as he loved them while alive.

When Zac and his cohorts in a Ghost Adventure investigation episode, held a little party complete with guitar and three dancing girls, Don showed up and made himself known.

After an employee closed the first floor for the night, it is thought that Mr. Bandini wasn’t through yet, and turned on all the lights and the music back on.

Activity from spirits of former guests and Native American workers,

that could also be Don Juan and his daughter, Ysidora or other family members:

Dining Room: Throat clearings are heard, and chairs are moved back when no one has been nearby.

The Bandini Room: Items are moved to more appropriate places by the spirits to their way of thinking.

A female apparition stood up from a sofa and walked calmly through a wall. Perhaps it is Ysidora.

Hand-carved bed and dresser: This furniture set has a history of residual paranormal activity that has disturbed past owners, some of whom donated it to the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

The Game Room: Apparently the spirits enjoy playing board games as well as the living. Chairs move; some end up around the chess board.


A big Yes Indeed is in order. The spirit of Don Juan as well as his daughter Ysidora and perhaps other family members are still enjoying their beloved home, accepting the addition of the second floor, and helping the living run the hotel and bar. Some think that Indians who worked here also like to stay. Former spirits of guests may also stop by.



2660 Calhoun Street
San Diego, CA 92110

The Cosmopolitan Hotel can be found in Old Town San Diego State Park, at the corner of Calhoun Street, and Mason Street, just off a corner of the historic Old Town Square.



  • (Ghost Adventures Episode)

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr


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