I base my Estancia La Jolla review on extensive personal experience across the last two decades. Sure, we’ve stayed overnight in this sprawling hacienda-style AAA Four-Diamond hotel. We’ve attended events of all sizes there, including a family wedding that we deeply involved in. Let’s also include the countless sunset cocktails sipped al fresco at Mustang & Burros and my multiple spa treatments.
We’ve also witnessed changes in ownership and exciting property enhancements. I think that the secluded La Jolla hotel’s offerings are better than ever, but there are things to know before you check-in as a day or overnight guest.
Note from Katie: We independently select all featured hotels. Booking methods mentioned we think offer the best value or are popular with readers. If you book through some of our links, we may earn a commission. Prices and amenities are subject to change. Our editorial guidelines.
WHAT I LOVE
- The hacienda-style buildings of no more than three stories spread across 10 acres
- Stunning landscaping featuring California natives and succulents
- Outdoor swimming pool with cabanas
- Location near UCSD
- Sipping cocktails and eating fresh guacamole near the fireplace on the Mustangs & Burros patio
- Massages at the full-service spa
- Complimentary shuttle service within 5 miles of the hotel
- Among the inclusions in the $35/night resort fee is a bottle of Trinitas Cellars wine
GOOD TO KNOW
- You can read about enhanced health and safety measures in place
- I think the hotel falls into the upper-moderate category
- Options for things to do within walking distance are limited
- It’s good for staycations, girlfriend getaways, and visitors with cars
- It’s a quieter atmosphere (no nightlife)
- Pets are welcome
- No ocean views
It’s very important to understand the Estancia La Jolla’s Torrey Pines location before booking in, which is why I’m mentioning it first.
If you’re a parent visiting a student at the University of California, San Diego, this is one of the closest hotels to UCSD. In fact, it’s right across the street from Thurgood Marshall College. Occasionally, they offer promotions for UCSD families and alumni that you’ll find on the special offers page. It’s also a popular business hotel for people who need to be close to the university or the nearby biotech companies.
Torrey Pines Road, the street that the hotel is on, is busy. However, the hotel feels quiet because it’s tucked back a little from the street. We once checked into a room that faced toward Torrey Pines Road and didn’t hear any noise.
One perk of this location is easy access to the I-5 freeway, our main transportation artery. For example, the I-5 takes you north to LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad and south to downtown San Diego from a central San Diego location.
The hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service within five miles which is convenient during peak season when beach parking can be difficult. Otherwise, I suggest having a car.
In theory, you can walk about a mile to Black’s Beach, a famous La Jolla beach for a nude area and surfing. Be warned that the walk downhill feels easy, but the very steep walk back up from the beach does not.
Nearby Things to Do
The Torrey Pines Gliderport (panoramic views and paragliding), the Salk Institute (to admire architecture), and UCSD are the attractions within walking distance. The one restaurant that is reachable in just under 10 minutes of walking is Bella Vista Social Club and Caffe (we like it). La Jolla Playhouse is also a walkable mile away, though you may want to return in an Uber should the performance end after sunset.
When it comes to driving, you can reach the La Jolla Shores area in about 5 minutes and the Village of La Jolla (go here to see La Jolla Cove and the La Jolla seals) in 15 minutes. Torrey Pines Golf Course is right around the corner, a few minutes away. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get to the shopping, restaurants, and beaches of Del Mar, depending on where you’re going. The concierge team can help organize your itinerary with all of the fantastic things to do in La Jolla and beyond.
Guest Rooms and Suites
The 210 rooms and suites span across 10 acres of Spanish-Colonial-style buildings that are no taller than three floors.
Estancia La Jolla rooms offer the option of a California king bed or two queen beds with Turkish cotton linens. Rooms sizes range from 395–415 square feet and come with a work desk and reading chair.
Estate Suites and the Presidential Suite suit travelers looking for more space. Limited sets of connecting rooms are available by request and these are usually a king bed room connecting to a two queen room. ADA accessible and hearing accessible rooms are available as well.
If you’re like me and need coffee first thing in the morning, all accommodations come with a Keurig coffee maker and complimentary private blend regular and decaf capsules.
Bath amenities are by Fresh, which I quite like (and are great for detangling post-pool hair). And, you can expect typical in-room amenities like hairdryers, bathrobes, air conditioning, and free wireless internet access.
Deluxe Rooms are the entry-level accommodations and located on the second and third floors.
Veranda Rooms have either a balcony or patio so that you can sit outside to enjoy the award-winning gardens. Our last stay was in this category and our private patio was surrounded by bamboo for some extra privacy. The beds were comfortable and I appreciated the empty mini-fridge which is convenient for traveling with kids.
Estate Rooms offer the best views of the gardens and the outdoor pool. They also come with a private patio and balcony with a bistro-style patio furniture set.
Estate Suites come with 650 square feet of space where the living room can separate from the bedroom. Not all of them do. If you need separate rooms, be sure to book the right suite. Sleep in a California king in the bedroom or on the full-sized sofa sleeper in the living room.
Finally, opt for the 1250-square-foot Presidential Suite that is furnished like your hacienda home away from home if you need more space. You’ll find a dining table for six, a comfortable living room, a large balcony with chaise lounges, a private bedroom, and 1.5 bathrooms.
We go to Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa quite a bit for dining and events. The food and drinks across the resort are good. Think colorful and fresh West Coast cuisine that incorporates the flavors of Napa, Mexico, the Southwest, and everything in between.
Mustangs & Burros
We have been here many, many times. While they do have space for indoor dining, you should absolutely sit on the patio. Bench seating wraps around the side with the outdoor fireplace while little lanterns hang from the trellis to further light the space. It’s just lovely in good weather, which we pretty much always have. Order the guacamole and a specialty cocktail. The tacos and hanger steak are also excellent.
Adobe El Restaurante (Temporarily Closed)
The signature Southwest restaurant, Adobe El Restaurante, is temporarily closed but worth making note of. I have enjoyed eating breakfast here at the buffet, which included everything from freshly-baked bread to breakfast burritos. My husband has been equally pleased with business lunches here both from a dining and a service perspective. When they reopen, I will update this with revised offerings.
Trinitas Cellars Wine Bar (Temporarily Closed):
It’s actually far more than a wine bar. Not only is this the Southern California tasting room for Trinitas Cellars, but you can come to sample cocktails with housemade bitters, local beer, and even Estancia La Jolla’s own private label Single Barrel Jack Daniel’s over a nice cheese and charcuterie plate.
You should know that the owners of Estancia also own Trinitas Cellars, which makes for a neat synergy.
The Secret Garden is a relatively new but brilliant dining experience and an alternate way to enjoy the spectacular landscaping. It’s a quaint lounge area with a menu of Baja-inspired items, a wine list, cocktails, and a garden butler. You can also simply sit here with a book and a coffee.
The grab-and-go Blend Cafe is like a mini-market inside of the hotel that serves gourmet coffee drinks, breakfast sandwiches, bottled juices and sodas, pastries, and more. This is also where you can find last-minute essentials that you forgot to pack and even a few souvenirs.
Room Service and Poolside Dining
The room service menu is reasonably priced, in my opinion. During our last stay, many of the same menu items are available at the pool where servers take food and beverage orders.
Outdoor Swimming Pool with Cabanas
The heated outdoor saltwater pool lined with lounge chairs and cabanas serves as a hotel highlight.
The pool area can be busy but it’s a great place to unwind after a day of sightseeing. There is no lifeguard on duty and there is no diving allowed. There weren’t too many seats out of the sun available in the late afternoon during our last visit (most were taken already).
You need a key to get into the pool area. Totally shaded cabanas and day beds (both with refrigerators stocked with nonalcoholic beverages) can be rented through the spa. Cabanas also come with two mini Moets, which is a nice touch.
You can order food and drinks from the poolside bar and also relax in the whirlpool hot tub.
The Spa at Estancia La Jolla
Speaking of relaxation, take some time to book a treatment in the 7000-square-foot Spa at Estancia. I personally think it is one of the best full-service spas in town. Nine treatment rooms include a couples bungalow with an outdoor soaking tub.
I’ve enjoyed plenty of manicures, pedicures, and massages here over the years. Expect to pay hotel spa prices, but know that they do have indoor and outdoor lounging facilities with a eucalyptus steam room, saltwater whirlpools, and a meditation garden so that you can make a day out of it.
If you’re coming to the hotel for a spa day, parking and WiFi are free to use. The fitness facility here includes cardio equipment, a stretching area, and weights. Private yoga and meditation classes can be arranged, but guests can attend weekend outdoor yoga on Saturdays at 10 a.m.
Estancia La Jolla Day Passes
Yes, you can very easily buy day passes to Estancia La Jolla for a lovely daycation that can include access to everything overnight guests enjoy — but without the room or suite cost.
Pool day access starts at $25 for adults and $14 for children and includes complimentary WiFi, complimentary parking, fitness center access, and 15% off at the dining outlets. You can include access to the spa facilities or rent an entire pool cabana for four people which comes with additional perks.
Take advantage of the Garden Games Library of take-home games like Twister and clue to play in the resort gardens. Make it extra festive by including a bottle of wine and snacks. The hotel also offers electric bike rentals.
Impressive Water-Wise Landscaping
Every single time I visit Estancia La Jolla, I get motivated to work on my yard. They have an amazing combination of succulents, California natives, tropical plants, citrus trees, and seasonal flowers in gardens and containers throughout the hotel. If you’re looking for garden inspiration, stop by for a drink and a walk through the lovely paths, passing adobe fireplaces along the way.
I like the mixture of colors and textures and that the grassy areas are not off-limits, which is one of the reasons why it can be a good hotel for pets and kids. It’s also a lovely place to take photos in La Jolla.
These gardens set amid the pretty Spanish-style architecture are another reason why Estancia La Jolla is a popular wedding venue. If a wedding is happening during your stay, the hotel will feel busiest as guests enjoy the dining outlets and gardens.
While it’s always prudent to check prices across top sites, I think the best way to book usually is direct through Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa packages and promotions. Military, police, firefighters, and healthcare providers receive a 30% discount.
Also, right now, only self-parking is available however in normal times the hotel offers valet parking exclusively. There is currently also a nonrefundable $50 pet fee.
Photos are courtesy of Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.