Exploring San Diego


Experience a blast from the past at Escondido's Heartbreak Hotel

Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 12, 2019

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — The sign out front Andre Villa's Escondido home says "heartbreak," though a visit brings anything but.

The location of family gatherings and holidays is highlighted by one very obvious attraction: "The Heartbreak Hotel."

Villa's yard and home are adorned with thousands of pieces of memorabilia spanning the 1950s. Everything from Big Boy, to Coca-Cola signs, a gumball machine, and much more. It's a beacon at 622 Utah Street that can’t be missed and is always seeing an addition.

Even unwelcome ones.

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"The sign says 'The Heartbreak Hotel,'" Villa started. "I've had people looking for rooms in the middle of the night, knocking on the door."

Villa recalled one couple who "walked right in" while they were watching television.

But there are only three icons worthy of taking up so much space at Villa’s home: James Dean, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe.

Villa’s habit for collecting began as a child with James Dean magazines and growing to movie posters, but his love of cinema really catapulted his penchant for the icons.

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"The love for movies grew more and more, and it just kind of helped out to put everything together as 'The Heartbreak Hotel' from the love of movies as kid," Villa said. "It's still out of control and I'm still having a great time."

As years have gone by, he's continue to find things at retail and antique stores, even getting calls from sellers from time to time about a new item perfect for the home.

And despite facing the obvious challenge of where to put everything, Villa’s habit doesn’t appear close to slowing — though, not for lack of trying. He's currently looking at making an inventory of everything he has and downsizing, just not all at once.

"I would hate to part with any of it right now, but I think it's time. But I'm not talking about tomorrow, and hopefully not for another five to 10 years, depending on what I got left in me here," Villa said. "I'd really hate to part with a lot of it ... I'd rather part with a little bit now, than to depart and have everyone scramble around figuring out what they're going to do with it."

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But for family and friends who have lived with the vibrant showcase of decades past, the home will always be more than a pop culture time capsule. Behind the glitz and glam of statues portraying The Duke and The King, it's where his home has become a neighborhood icon.

Villa invites people to take photos in front of his home, but asks that people let him know ahead of time if they plan to stop by or would like a look around. And he's more than happy with his home's continued popularity.

"I'm tickled to death with it right now," Villa said.