Hotel Spotlight

Saddle Up for a Ride Through This Sprawling La Jolla Estate

by California Chaney
The It doesn't get more California than a poolside fireplace. All photos courtesy of Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
San Diego, California
Luxury Ranch, $$

Tucked away in a private enclave between La Jolla's sprawling shoreline and Torrey Pines State Park,Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa shines light on a slice of little-known San Diego history. The ten-acre property was once a sprawling estate owned by the local elite and world-traveled Black family, who bred show horses on the property in the 1880s. Fast forward to the 1960s, when descendants of the family gifted the property to University of California San Diego under order that the land would be used to build a hotel for the betterment of the La Jolla community. Nearly 50 years later, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa opened in 2004, revealing three meticulously preserved Spanish-Colonial-style buildings, including the former stables, tack room, and caretaker's cottage, along with sprawling gardens with over 600 fruit trees. Meandering pathways of terra cotta and Mexican Talavera tiles lead to 210 suite-style guest rooms designed in a Rancho-California style with adobe fireplaces and exposed beams of California Douglas fir. Rest and relaxation are at the core of the hotel's amenities, including a 60-foot saltwater pool and massive spa with outdoor soaking tubs flanked by succulent gardens. To keep their word on involving the San Diego community, the hotel invites local artists to create murals and installations throughout the various courtyards.

The spa's outdoor relaxation area.
Heated saltwater pool.
Roam the property to find the secret garden.
Left: Succulent garden; right: Tacos at Mustangs & Burros.
Hotel lobby.

At a Glance

The Vibe: It doesn't get more California than this: Spanish Mission-style architecture, wood-burning fireplaces, secret succulent gardens, and tacos at every meal.

Standout Detail: Towering succulent gardens are spread out across the property's ten acres, making it easy (and lovely) to feel like you're in a Californian oasis.

This Place Is Perfect For: Couples, families, and girlfriend groups who want a relaxed home base to enjoy La Jolla's easy-breezy beach lifestyle.

Rooms: 210 rooms are spread out among hacienda-style buildings topped with terra-cotta roofs, tile floors, and wrought iron details throughout. Eleven suites feature spacious outdoor areas, soaking tubs, and separate living areas. To ensure a "best sleep you've ever had" amenity, all rooms come with the option of a California King upgrade.

On Site: All-day food and drinks can be delivered to canopied daybeds flanking the sprawling outdoor heated pool and lush green gardens. The 7,000-square-foot spa equally embraces the outdoors with a meditation garden, stone reflexology walk, and private couples bungalow with an outdoor hot tub and fireplace. As far as fitness goes, al fresco yoga and barre classes are held Thursday through Sunday in the garden courtyard. If you'd rather do your workout solo, book the Wellness Suite for interactive classes through the virtual workout Mirror.

Food + Drink: On a spacious patio with an outdoor fireplace, Mustangs & Burros offers Baja-style coastal cuisine: crispy tostadas, ceviches, and a cheese-adorned sweets menu. Greenfinch serves a classic Americana brunch until 4 p.m. with an open-air balcony overlooking the property's lush courtyard.

All the fixings at Mustangs & Burros.
One of the property's hacienda buildings.
The couple's spa room complete with an outdoor tub.

What to Do Nearby

It's all about embracing the abundant California sunshine and fresh air. Tee off at the famous clifftop Torrey Pines Golf Course, gawk at the country's rarest pine trees in Torrey Pines State Reserve, and watch the seals swim from the Children’s Pool sea wall. The cartographers reading this should not miss The Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla, showcasing 500 rare maps and atlases that span the course of five centuries, including several that depict California as an island. Now that's California dreaming.

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