A January 2001 trip
to La Jolla by jim
Quote: I went to San Diego for business, but fell in love with La Jolla. I spent three days and dreaded the flight back to cold New York City.
- The La Valencia Hotel: One of the best hotels I have ever stayed at (see my entry on La Valencia).
- Kayaking in the bay.
- Running by the water.
- Swimming across the bay (I actually did this during the summer on an earlier visit). This is a triathletes dream location.
- Getting within a few feet of the seals.
- All you can eat sushi (see my dining entries) for only ...and this sushi was fantastic.
- Walking through the shops and galleries on the main drag.
- Too many wonderful restaurants to choose from.
- Perfect weather...although you will need a sweater in January.
Bring a sweatshirt or sweater. It does get a little chilly at night in January...but never really cold.
The service is impeccable and not at all snooty. You are greeted the second you step out of your car and escorted to the front desk. A porter and your "personal butler" escort you to your room (or in my case, your ocean villa).
A tour quickly made me realize what the fuss was about. The stereo system built into the walls was awesome. The tv is unobtrusively stored in a cabinet and emerges at the touch of a button. A gas fireplace awaits in the sitting area (more for ambience than for warmth). The in-room steam shower and jacuzzi tub are part of an amazing bathroom. Complimentary fruit and pistachio nuts are a nice midnight snack. But a word to the wise, take advantage of the wonderful room service.
More subtle touches include the quality and comfort of the linen, the furniture and the carpeting. The bed was so comfortable, you are reluctant to leave the room in the morning. But alas, you are only a couple of hundred yards from the ocean, or, if you prefer, about 20 yards from a beautiful pool and jacuzzi.
As for dining at La Valencia, I highly recommend both the formal and informal dining rooms (see my separate dining entry).
After dark, relax in the expansive La Sala room and listen to live piano music. Or have a few drinks at the famous Whaling Bar, where many famous La Jolla visitors and residents have thrown a few drinks back. As with the rest of La Valencia, the service is fantastic and the drinks as stiff as you want them. Talk to the bartenders because odds are they (and much of the staff) have worked there for many years.
A couple of other notes:
- Don’t expect much from the fitness room, but who cares. Why exercise inside when you are in paradise?
- Try and schedule a massage (you won''t be disappointed).
- Take a picture of the sunset from the pool terrace. No other photo better captures the beauty of La Valencia.
- Use your steam shower. I haven’t felt that relaxed in months.
- Ask your butler about the little nuances in the room and enjoy them all.
- My ocean villa runs for around $700-$1000 depending on the time of year. Other rooms are cheaper (and others more expensive), so try to find a way to afford it. But if you have to try too hard, you miss the point a little bit.
- You can check out www.LaValencia.com, if you have any other questions or if you want to read up on the history of the place.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 5, 2001
The setting is relaxed and the sushi chefs are very attentive. You sit at the sushi bar and order as much as you like. This includes individual pieces of sushi and/or all types of sushi rolls. When you start to run out of food, the chefs ask what you would like next. The only requirement, you must finish what you order.
For perspective, the amount of sushi I ate would have easily cost around $70 in New York (and it would probably not have been nearly as good). The $21 price for all you can eat was definitely a bargain. I ate more sushi in this one sitting than in my previous four sushi dinners combined (I guess this is where I should apologize for my gluttony). I also drank more saki, but that is another story.
I went with a couple of people who work in La Jolla and this is a regular stop for them. That seemed to be the case for many of the people in the restaurant (who all seemed to know the chefs). I can’t think of a better endorsement. I will definitely go here again the next time I am in La Jolla.
For breakfast, I dined in the more informal Mediterranean Room. It has a terrific view of the ocean, the service is great, and the food is wonderfully prepared. My Huevos Rancheros are better than anything I have had.
Now imagine all of those wonderful things and enhance them significantly. This is the more formal dining experience in the Sky Room dining room. It has only 12 tables and every one has a great view. Dining is formal so plan to stay awhile and enjoy every minute. I had a bottle of California wine to accompany my fine meal and then marveled at each course. I had the Roasted Portabello and Goat Cheese Soup to start, the Scallops with Chive Potato Pancakes and Hazelnut Charlotte with Creme Praline. Truly delectable!!
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, rent a kayak and spend some time on the water. Several outfitters are available for rentals. Or if you are extremely adventurous, take a swim in the bay. A course is set up for regular swimmers and triathletes. I have done this swim on an earlier visit, but I am definitely on the extreme end of travelers. Also, I had just done the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco so I was in pretty good shape.
I would also recommend, renting a mountain bike and riding the scenic drive around La Jolla. There is no better way to see the beautiful scenery and homes and do it in a way that is true to the spirit of La Jolla.
Charlotte, North Carolina