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Our Stay at Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa

I have been to the Estancia Hotel and Spa more times than I can count, but I hadn’t stayed overnight until a few weeks ago. In an effort to  answer all of the emails I receive about where families should stay in La Jolla, I am staying in several La Jolla hotels over the summer. The Estancia was our first stop and I thought it was very kid-friendly.

The Location

It’s right across the street from my old alma mater, UCSD, so I would imagine that the Estancia is a popular choice among college parents. Despite Torrey Pines being a busy street, the hotel is quiet. We even had a room that faced in the direction of the street and didn’t hear any noise. The drawback of the location is that you need to get in your car and drive down into La Jolla or elsewhere, if you’re going to do anything.

The Torrey Pines Gliderport, the Salk Institute, and UCSD are about all that is within walking distance. This obviously means there isn’t a convenience store (which we usually have a habit of needing while traveling) nearby.

If you’re headed to SeaWorld or other San Diego attractions, the freeway is just a few minutes away. La Jolla Shores is about 5 minutes away and the village of La Jolla is about 10-15 minutes away. Torrey Pines Golf Course is right around the corner, a few minutes away.

Spacious Rooms With Coffee

Estancia La Jolla Hotel Complimentary Coffee

We booked a double room which was a nicely decorated and had a small patio (though a little bit dark and damp, due to the tall bamboo). The beds were really comfortable, though my daughter kept asking why there was no turn down service in the evenings.

I appreciated that the mini fridge was empty and that we could request items to be put in it if we want to. As a parent, I always travel with snacks and it’s a pain to shove them in an already full mini fridge. There is no hotel gift shop with small amenities, but you can order a handful of things via housekeeping that are on a menu in your room.

They also provide a coffee maker and complimentary Starbucks regular and decaf packets. I can’t even tell you how important in-room coffee is to me, as I need coffee first thing in the morning.

The bathroom had eco-friendly Gilchrist and Soames amenities along with a bath and shower combo. We had a little bit of trouble with the drain plugging the water for a bath, but it wasn’t enough of an issue to call housekeeping.

Healthy Food Options

I managed to not eat myself into a disgusting food coma as there are plenty of healthy options around the hotel.

Mustang and Burros:  We have been here many, many times. My standard order is guacamole and a Margarita Organico. Pictured above is the chef salad, kids quesadilla and a side order of edamame. They have an awesome happy hour (La Jolla Dad took advantage of the $7 Manhattans) with specials that vary. And if you check in on foursquare twice, you get a complimentary pitcher of sangria, a house specialty! We love the outdoor ambiance of this place and though entrees and specialty drinks can be expensive, put it on your list.

Adobe El Restaurante:  I have only eaten breakfast here, however, my husband has been pleased with business lunches he’s had in this restaurant. The breakfast buffet includes everything from freshly baked breads to breakfast burritos. Kids under 5 eat at the buffet for free, if you do! La Jolla Girl and I enjoyed an enormous breakfast buffet for $25 total. That is a deal for a hotel restaurant.

Bodega Wine Bar:  Kids are welcome here, as we were told they have some kind of slider burger promotion. We never made though, because La Jolla Girl wanted to eat her dinners at Mustang and Burros.

Room Service:  Kids items range from about $4-8 before service and tax. My daughter tried the pancakes while I ate Irish Oatmeal. Compared to other hotels I’ve been to lately (I will be able to confirm how it compares to other La Jolla hotels after I stay a few more places) the room service menu is reasonably priced.

Poolside Dining:  This menu has similar items to the room service menu. The pool was crowded, though there were plenty of servers around taking drink and food orders. Once we ordered, it took about 10 minute or so to receive our food. Margaritas are available here too.

Kid-Friendly Pool

I appreciate that the hotel is totally fine with kids bringing in their own pool toys like inner tubes and diving rings. It’s a huge rectangle and though it was crowded (judged by the fact that almost all the lounge chairs were taken), I didn’t feel like I was going to bump into anyone. There is no lifeguard on duty and there is no diving allowed. No kids under 12 are allowed in the jacuzzi, but people weren’t paying attention to that and no one seemed to care there were kids in it on occasion.

There weren’t too many seats out of the sun available in the late afternoon (most were taken already) and it doesn’t look like umbrellas can easily be moved around to suit you. You need a key to get into the pool area and totally shaded cabanas are available for rent through the spa.

Make a Spa Appointment

Take some time to book a treatment. The first thing that people asked when I mentioned our stay is, “Are you going to the spa?” This spa has a great reputation around town. I’ve had a manicure, pedicure and a massage here over the years. It’s great with a nice little lounging area, but expect to pay hotel prices.

Impressive Water-Wise Landscaping

Every single time I go to the Estancia, I get motivated to work on my yard. They have an amazing combination of succulents, other water-wise plants, and seasonal flowers plugged in here and there. The mixture of colors and textures show major expertise and care that is so mind-blowing I can’t even process it. The plants are perhaps my favorite part of the hotel.

There are a few grassy areas where kids can run around and blow off steam. I would have brought some bubbles for my daughter to chase, if I had thought of it ahead of time.


You must know which dates you’re going to travel and pay in advance, in order to book through them but I’ve seen rooms for as low as $125. However, most sites have base rooms available for around $250. Valet parking is $25 per night, though you have an option to self-park for a smaller fee. Wireless internet access is free.

Final Thoughts

We spent two nights at the hotel and did not leave it once. However, keep in mind that we live in La Jolla and the point was to experience what the hotel has to offer families. But, I can totally see how you could get sucked into not leaving on some days, if you’re moving at a leisurely pace. My daughter happily spent a lot of time in the pool and enjoyed lounging around.

Unless you bring in some takeout or order pizza delivery, there isn’t any place to walk to get food nearby. So, if you’re looking for a very nice, family-friendly, centrally located hotel, consider the Estancia Hotel and Spa. I have more photos from our stay on the La Jolla Mom Facebook Page.

Do you have a favorite La Jolla hotel? If so, please share.

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