Madam Bonnie’s and the Fascinating History of Hotel Lester

Nestled in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, Madam Bonnie’s holds a captivating story within its walls. Situated on the first floor of a 121-year-old building, formerly known as the Hotel Lester, our restaurant and bar invite you to experience a piece of San Diego‘s intriguing past.

Once a hotel for visiting tourists, the Hotel Lester harbored a clandestine secret since the 1920s. Guided by her strength and determination, Bertha “Bonnie” White transformed the first floor into a thriving brothel within the infamous Stingaree Red Light District. From 1930 to 1940, Bonnie presided as the proprietress of the Hotel Lester, overseeing the successful business. Legends echo of a wire or creaking mechanism under the 13th step, alerting the ladies upstairs to police raids and ensuring their timely escape down the back exterior stairway. However, this era came to an end in 1940 when a new police chief took office, leading to the closure of the brothel.

Fast forward to 1978, when the hotel found new owners in Marilyn and Eugene Marx, passionate philanthropists and supporters of Gaslamp’s restoration. Their meticulous renovation work transformed the building, now known as Gaslamp Quarter Hotel, into a place of higher standards. Today, it serves as a testament to the city’s rich history. Immerse yourself in the charm of our meticulously restored space, where the first floor proudly houses our vibrant speakeasy restaurant.

At Madam Bonnie’s, we honor the rich history of this remarkable building through our captivating traditional décor. Adorned with copper finishes, enchanting hanging gardens, and period lighting, our ambiance effortlessly transports you to a bygone era. Our famous cocktails, named after notable women from Bonnie’s time, embody both innovation and respect for tradition. From Naomi Parker, the real-life Rosie the Riveter, to Dolores Del Rio, a renowned movie star, each sip is a journey that intertwines innovation and respect for tradition.

Join us in this enchanting space, where history blends seamlessly with modern delights. Reserve your table today and immerse yourself in the captivating ambiance of Madam Bonnie’s.