It took a lot of coaxing to get me to visit San Diego. Having spent so much time in L.A. and San Francisco for work and increasingly for fun, I had honestly relegated San Diego near the bottom of my list of places to visit in the Golden State. My girlfriend of nearly two years, who grew up in La Jolla, was determined to change my thinking (a talent girlfriends wield skillfully) on the subject of San Diego. Her weapon of choice? The historic La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Knowing my appreciation for provenance, this was a shrewd and ultimately successful move.
Opened in 1926 as the standard-bearer for classic California hotels, the property has in recent years undergone a nearly complete restoration (some of the areas are still under construction though it was not really a disturbance to us — one small wrinkle was that we were unable to secure the namesake drink at the Whaler Bar, as it was closed for renovations). The timeless architecture of the building has been retained and at the same time the rooms have been modernized (I don’t know that I have ever stayed in a hotel with better showers an often over-looked attribute), which is exactly what you want.
Situated right in the middle of things on Prospect Street, La Valencia is within easy walking distance to both the beach (and La Jolla cove; scroll down for an awesome old photo of it from the early 1910s) and nearly all of the La Jolla shops and restaurants. From the hotel we walked over to Windansea one morning, then other days had breakfast at Pannikin, scoped out the D.G. Willis bookshop (which is pretty cool) had brunch at The Cottage, ate some of the amazing banana cake at Come On In Cafe and dined at Herringbone with some friends. During the day we laid by the pool, tripped over to the Torrey Pines Gliderport and enjoyed the view of La Jolla from up above Black’s beach (word of warning, beware of all of the creepers down there). From atop Black’s I imagined what it would be like to golf Torrey Pines, but the GF decreed that golf was strictly prohibited on this trip. We also saw Harry’s and it looked very ACL, but we didn’t have a chance to check it out — there’s always next time.
Before we left town we cruised over to do a quick giro of Coronado Island to check out all of the great old Craftsman homes and classic cars that are over there (of which many of which ended up on the ACL Instagram). It’s an awesome place if you ever have a chance to check that place out.
If you are looking to spend a relaxing weekend away in San Diego, La Valencia is a great place to do it. It’s a nice starting point for all of the fun little nooks and crannies of the area. Thankfully, we avoided most of the Affliction clad bros by staying far from PB (I suggest you do the same, add in downtown SD to that while we are at it). All that said, I left San Diego with a positive impression I wasn’t expecting. A nice hotel can do that to you, so can an open mind.
Many of these great old photos were found via the La Jolla Historical Society.