La Valencia Hotel, La Jolla: Where Old Meets New
Not unlike the fine wine it serves, La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla Calif. is one of those things that simply improves with age. One of the hardest balances to strike in the world of luxury hotels is knowing how to retain a property's historic charm and authenticity while providing the most modern of amenities. The Mediterranean-inspired La Valencia is a textbook case of how to do it right.
The charming boutique hotel has been perched atop La Jolla Cove overlooking the Pacific since 1926. The decor, open-air courtyards with hand-painted murals and Spanish mosaic tiles, evoke an old-world luxury, while the rooms come equipped with state-of-the-art steam showers with over-sized rain shower heads, top-of-the-line electronics and free WiFi.
Gallery: La Valencia Hotel, La Jolla
The hotel and its history are woven into the fabric of La Jolla, a picturesque upscale community with art galleries, high-end designer shops and eateries. The original hotel's architect was Reginald Johnson, a local man whose expertise was classic Spanish architecture. It cost $200,000 to construct the original structure that still stands, and some years later, the adjacent apartment building was purchased by the hotel and converted into more hotel rooms. In 2000, a wing of ocean-view villas was added and the pool remodeled.
Known as the "Pink Lady" because of its salmon pink stucco exterior, the hotel uses lush landscaping to seamlessly merge the three structures. There are 113 guest rooms, suites and the half-dozen ocean villas with fireplaces, terraces from which to watch the sunset, and parlors. Rates range from about $300 to $800 a night, with packages and specials available. The hotel has a full service gym and spa, as well as a business office on site for guests. Guest rooms are 200 to 450 square feet, many with small terraces. The villas are 400 to 1,200 square feet with white fir beam ceilings and Italian marble floors. The king beds have down duvets, 100% Egyptian cotton linens and La Valencia robes and slippers. The hotel features Aromatherapy toiletries from Gilchrist & Soames.
The La Valencia has three distinctive restaurants, including the intimate and award-winning Sky Room with just 10 tables, all with twinkling lights and ocean views. The larger Mediterranean Room offers an eclectic and thoughtful Mediterranean-inspired menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the Whaling Bar and Grill serves pub-style fare in a matching atmosphere. The hotel has a wine list features more than 1,000 labels, many hard to find and many more consistently prized by the Wine Spectator.
But what makes the difference between simply staying in an expensive hotel or having an exquisite experience is the staff. And the staff at the La Valencia is attentive and well-trained. During a recent hotel-hosted visit, our bellman Juan knew the hotel's history and proudly gave us a running commentary as he escorted us to our ocean villa. A hotel manager accompanies each guest as well, offering suggestions for dinner and not-to-be-missed sights in the upscale La Jolla community -- like the sea lions who beach themselves in a cove within walking distance from the hotel. From the car valet who offered bottles of water for our journey home to the front desk receptionist who recorded our valet slip number in the event we misplaced it, each staff member anticipated our needs.