Where is it?
In the heart of La Jolla (the jewel), a posh seaside town with unspoilt beaches, surfing, excellent restaurants, galleries, boutiques and plenty of seals. La Valencia is impossible to miss perched on the hill above La Jolla Cove. Downton San Diego is about a 20-minute drive away so La Jolla is an excellent place to base yourself if the thought of the main city feels too busy and, well, city-like.
Affectionately named the ‘Pink Lady’ by locals, La Valencia is the one of the most famous hotels in the area and has a storied 90-year past (during the Second World War locals used the main tower to scan for enemy ships and planes).
Glossier pink, the impressive buildings are landscaped down the hill with palm trees and bougainvillea in abundance. As you can guess from the name – it was originally called Los Apartmentos de Sevilla – La Valencia has a Spanish feel with decorative ceramic tiles, handpainted murals and fountains throughout. In fact, it’s easy to forget you’re in Southern California.
La Valencia is a 4-star hotel but much of it feels like it could be a 5-star. The heated pool for starters is magnificent. You’ll find chic printed sun loungers, shady spots, a salt water hot tub and a bar. But it’s the Pacific Ocean views that’ll see you losing hours at a time. Should you feel inclined to get a bit closer to the sea, La Jolla Beach is just steps away. There’s also a 24-hour fitness centre.
Food & drink
The Med is the top place to eat at La Valencia. At the helm is executive chef Timothy Ralphs conjuring up creative dishes using freshly caught local seafood. For lunch tuck into blue fin crab cakes or a blackened fish sandwich, at dinner it’s all about the Barramundi or Steelhead trout. The breakfast was one of the best we had on our California trip and we’re still thinking about the handmade cinnamon roll now.
You have the best of La Jolla on your doorstep with perfect beaches, watersports and the freshest seafood. Slightly further afield in San Diego, head to Coronado Island for endless golden beaches and cocktails with your toes in the sand. Little Italy is great for, you guessed it, Italian fare and the Gaslamp Quarter is the place to find a decent night out.
This is where you can tell it’s not quite a 5-star hotel. The ‘classic’ rooms felt a little dated, but perfectly comfortable. If you can, plump for an ocean-view suite for on-demand Pacific Ocean views and private balconies.
Anyone looking for a dreamy Californian vacay and an ocean breeze.
Rates at La Valencia Hotel, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, start from £215 per room per night. For more information or to book, visit preferredhotels.com