by Amanda Geronikos
La Valencia Hotel is a vintage gem — THE vintage gem — of La Jolla, Calif., just outside of San Diego. Also known as The Pink Lady, La Valencia Hotel opened in 1926, welcoming the likes of locals, celebrities and most importantly, families.
Today, it continues the tradition, offering comfortable accommodations, onsite restaurants with kids’ menus and a unique outdoor swimming pool. You won’t find a kid’s club, game room or plethora of perks for children, but the surrounding area lends itself to family-friendly fun, with La Colla Cove (one of the most amazing attractions in La Jolla and the surrounding area) and a quiet, non-congested boardwalk just a short walk from the hotel. Also within perfect view of the property is an oddly shaped tree (technically a Monterey Cypress tree) in the water (you can’t miss it), one of which is said to have inspired Dr. Seuss, who once lived in this quaint coastal town. The area used to have many of the trees, but only one still stands.
And the beauty of La Valencia Hotel isn’t just its appearance and accommodations, but also the fact that it’s far enough from the hustle and bustle of San Diego, yet close enough that its popular attractions, notably SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, are just a short drive away.
Our Editor Loves
- Vintage elegance
- Outdoor swimming pool and bar
- Short walk to beach and boardwalk
- Theme Park
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
La Valencia Hotel has 112 rooms, suites and Ocean Villas, all of which feature a simply, but pleasant, yesteryear charm. Most of them are decorated in khaki, gold and white palettes, with wooden, Victorian era-like furniture.
Rooms offer one king or two queen beds, outfitted with Egyptian cotton linens and down comforters. They're suitable for families of up to four. You can request a rollaway bed for a fifth guest ($25 per night), or a crib (free of charge), but this could be a tight squeeze; rooms range from 250 to 450 square feet in size. They also include LCD TV's, Keurig machines, irons and ironing boards, and plush bathrobes. Bathrooms are exceptionally spacious (particularly in rooms with two queen beds), with large sink areas and shower and tub combinations. Many rooms also feature small private balconies (they only provide standing room, but request one that faces La Jolla Cove) and Whirlpool tubs.
For more space, request one of the hotel's suites, which range from 450 to 1,000 square feet in size. You can also sleep up to five people in these units -- there's a king bed in a separate bedroom and a sleeper sofa in the living area, as well as the option to utilize a rollaway bed or crib. Many of them also offer separate tubs and showers, small balconies with ocean views and mini-bars. For even more space, request a suite with connecting capabilities; several of them open to ocean-facing rooms.
If you're traveling with a large group during your vacation and/or want a truly luxurious stay, consider an Ocean Villa. Aesthetically, the villas are really unique. They create a village-like atmosphere on the property, and even if you don't stay in one, be sure to stroll the walkways and perfectly groomed gardens around them. Inside, you'll find fireplaces (in most of them), beamed ceilings, Italian marble floors and gorgeous granite accents.
Additionally, the hotel offers a La Valencia Suite, which has an oceanfront location, large refrigerator, indoor and outdoor fireplace and a separate entrance for room and butler service.
If you like character in a hotel (vs the vanilla 4 seasons chain), this is your place.
When checking in I asked if it might be possible to have a room with a view. KYRA at the front desk said she would do her best. And she did! We had a lovely, yes, relatively small, room. But it was light and cheerful.
The bathroom was clean and the amenities more than welcome. The in-room bar snacks and booze were unique, although expensive.
This lovely ocean side hotel tries very hard. It is not perfect and there are areas of wear and tear. One area of concern is the pool. It needs a deep clean. Or maybe even a new paint job. But overall I felt as though I was in the South of France.
NB The bartender by the pool/pool boy/man was very helpful, but I do resent the 20% gratuity that is automatically included in the bar tab.
by Mimi S
Located in a great place but if you book a deal through Trip Advisor or American Express platinum, expect the worst room and the worst service. Just one example, housekeeping spilled an entire bottle of oil on my make up bag. Accidents happen to us all so I just asked that the send the bag to the laundry to try to clean it. It came back full of oil and they charged me for the laundry service. Amex guarantees an early check in if possible -- we got there at noon and then waited for our room until 4:15 -- there was no, let's see if we can have the room cleaned since you are with two kids and tired after traveling from the East Coast. There were no amenities. The room was very small, the bathroom was very small and when people are walking above you at a normal rate, it sounds like elephants. I love traveling and my kids and I are really not high maintenance folks -- but if you are going to bill yourself as such a high level hotel, then at least try to give the most basic level of service or lower your rates. The location will tempt you -- but really don't waste your time or money on this hotel -- even for a good deal.
La Valencia Hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by beautifully lush gardens and picture-perfect palm trees. The pool area, and really, the hotel's entire outdoor perimeter, features pastel shades of pink and green, which essentially define the hotel's peaceful, non-commercialized ambiance. Comfortable lounge chairs, tables and umbrellas, as well as a bar with refreshing snacks and drinks, compliment the pool.
The pool, which ranges from 3 to 5 feet deep, is also complimented by an outstanding view of the Pacific Ocean, which is merely a street, boardwalk and quiet beach away. Whether you're staying at La Valencia Hotel or just visiting La Jolla for a day or two, be sure to walk the two-mile boardwalk. It's peaceful (feels like something out of a movie) and quiet; the loudest noises you'll hear come from the seals and sea lions, who frequent La Jolla Cove and the surrounding shores. Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of their antics, both in and out of the water.
Additionally, the boardwalk and beach are fronted by Scripps Park, which is the perfect place to sprawl out and enjoy a picnic lunch. It also has a playground for kids.
La Valencia Hotel offers four dining options, and while all of them seem slightly too fancy for children, two of them offers kids' menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and high chairs and booster seats are available upon request.
La Sala Lounge
The hotel bar, La Sala Lounge, serves beer and wine, but the specialty cocktails are what make it stand out. La Sala also serves small plates and sandwiches, and offers happy hours from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (you'll receive $3 off all menu items, which are on the pricey side) and nightly entertainment. That said, this spot is best for families with teens.
Adjacent to La Sala Lounge, The Med serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, both inside and outside on a largo patio. Parents will find the outdoor area to be more casual for families, and it's preferable overall -- you'll enjoy La Jolla's temperate weather with views of the ocean while you dine.
We recommend breakfast here, as there are so many delicious options available, especially the fresh smoothies and huevos rancheros. Kids' menus, printed on paper with puzzles and games, feature silver dollar pancakes, eggs, cereal and the like.
Breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner is served 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is also available on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
CafÃ© La Rue
In the 1940's, La Valencia Hotel operated a two-room restaurant and local hot spot, The Whaling Bar and CafÃ© La Rue. Following extensive renovations, the storied restaurant reopened in December 2013. It features an elegant, European flair, with a glass-enclosed wine vault and open central bar enclosed by a barrel dome glass canopy. Like La Sala Lounge, we also recommend this one for families with older children.
Room service is available 24 hours a day, with food from all of the hotel's restaurants (including the children's menus).
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting services aren't offered at the hotel, but if you visit the front desk, a staff member will be happy to recommend some local, reliable services to you. The staff is also happy to make transportation arrangements for you.
Other services and facilities include a small fitness center, massage and beauty treatments, express dry cleaning, complimentary shoe shining and a business center.
Free Wi-Fi is available at the hotel, though we had trouble accessing it (we couldn't stay connected for long).
The Art of Smart Timing
La Jolla touts beautiful weather year-round, so there's no such thing as a "bad time" to visit. La Valencia Hotel's busiest times, however, are during the summer months, June through September, with July and August as the peak months. Most weekends throughout the year are also busy. You'll find the cheapest rates October through May, and even lower prices on Sundays through Thursdays, similar to most hotels.
Holidays are busy, too, but worth a visit, especially at Christmas. La Valencia Hotel offers "Sea of Lights," when the hotel with millions of lights, along with an annual tree lighting ceremony that includes hot cider, carolers and holiday-themed arts and crafts for kids.
La Valencia Hotel is only a 20-minute car ride from San Diego International Airport, which services all of the major car rental companies. You'll travel mostly highways to get there, so don't be surprised to hit traffic (we dealt with it even around 1:00 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon).
Valet parking is available for $29 per night at the hotel, and $6 per day. You might be able to score some free parking on Coastal Boulevard (further away from the hotel), which separates the hotel from the beach, but we don't recommend doing this before you've emptied your car, or you'll be lugging bags and kids up a steep hill to the hotel's entrance.
For Mom and Dad
If you're able, sneak down to La Sala Lounge for some cocktails (try the Cucumber Agave Roasted Pineapple margaritas) and live entertainment, followed by a walk along the beach or a late dinner at CafÃ© La Rue.
Outside of the hotel and aside from the beach, La Jolla offers mostly boutiques, and even if you don't like to shop, the stores are worth a gander, but definitely one without kids, who will quickly bore of the scene.