It has been a surprisingly long time since any of the Andrew Harper editors have taken a trip to the San Diego region. But I was ready to feel an ocean breeze again, hike the coastal bluffs and play some tennis. So I made a plan. I would land in San Diego, head straight for La Jolla and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to Carlsbad. Along the way I’d visit five hotels: a longtime member favorite, two that had recently been refurbished, a brand-new property and one that we dropped but might have renewed promise.
Set in downtown La Jolla about 25 minutes from San Diego, the storied 114-room La Valencia was built in 1926 and rose to fame as a Hollywood hideaway. By 2012 it had lost its luster and members were complaining of clogged drains, dated décor and worn furnishings. But since the hotel is still associated with La Jolla luxury and glamour, it seemed a good idea to reinvestigate.
Driving up to the rosy stucco exterior of the “Pink Lady,” we found no one there to receive us at 6 p.m., and we were obliged to park on the street in order to check in. Following the breezeway into the Spanish-style lobby, we were welcomed by a friendly clerk who took our temperature and asked if we needed help with our bags. Valet service was unavailable due to the pandemic, so considering we’d have to find a parking space and then lug the bags to our rooms, the answer was a resounding yes.