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Learn a little about the local varietals at Hotel La Jolla’s hosted wine hour.
Learn a little about the local varietals at Hotel La Jolla’s hosted wine hour.

‘Coastal chic’ is not an oxymoron at this San Diego hotel Add to ...

Hotel La Jolla, 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive; hotellajolla.com; 110 rooms from $170.

Hotel La Jolla has undergone a major renewal. The Kimpton property took one the tallest buildings in the tony seaside San Diego suburb of La Jolla (“the jewel” in bastardized Spanish), pumped $4-million (U.S.) into a do-over, and transformed it into 11 floors of laid-back luxury with ocean views to die for – or, at least, to contemplate humanity’s strange evolutionary path.


You’re just seven or eight minute walk from the churning depths from whence our ancestors emerged a.k.a. the beach, depending on which cheery staff member you ask; that stroll that takes you past surf shops, sushi restaurants and homes that, in recent years, sold for the highest average prices in the U.S. It took me about four minutes to jog there. If, remembering our oceanic antecedents, you’re not in the mood to move your legs, there is a free shuttle that will take you anywhere within an eight-kilometre radius, so you can hitch a ride over to the La Jolla Village boutiques or, in the other direction, to the La Jolla Playhouse at the University of California, San Diego.


Arrive at Hotel La Jolla at night and you’ll drive up the torch-lit path between palm trees to friendly men who will take your car keys but not steal your car. Inside the vibe is “coastal chic” – and it’s not an oxymoron. The whole place exudes a mix of relaxed elegance with a few eccentric touches that you might expect in the heart of the neighbourhood that children’s author Dr. Seuss called home. Just check out the “brick” walls made of petrified wood in the lounge and top-floor restaurant Cusp – they’ll help start your design discussion with that beautiful stranger.


Rooms on the top floors have balconies with gorgeous ocean views, in front of which you can stroke your gill-less chin. My shower stall had a glass wall facing into the bedroom and so, when I left the curtains open, I could gaze at the ocean while washing. Animal print robes hang in the closet should this make you want to unleash your inner Fred Flintstone. Both these aspects of the room are no doubt more entertaining if the beautiful stranger has dropped by.


Cusp, on the 11th floor, does a fine Mediterranean-inspired dinner, but better to visit during the daytime for brunch or lunch because, really, you can’t get enough of looking at that ocean. It’s also popular to watch the sun set into it from Cusp’s curvy bar, which is looks like a square-root symbol (if math were sexier). Recommended: the Ron Burgundy, a classy scotch-based drink named after the fictional San Diego newsman Will Ferrell played in Anchorman.


The hotel brings local musicians into Hiatus, its poolside bar, from Thursday to Saturdays, which will either be your excuse to hang out or take a hike. Best to visit during the daily wine hour, when you can quaff a complementary glass of California wine and learn something to help you audition convincingly for the stage adaptation of Sideways. (At the La Jolla Playhouse in July, directed by Canada’s Des McAnuff. Really.) The hotel’s “Forgot It? We’ve Got It!” policy also came in handy because I forgot my razor. But then I forgot to shave because I caught sight of the Pacific in the mirror.

The writer was a guest of the hotel.

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