I purposefully had my husband drop us off at the Grande Colonial hotel (he joined us the following day), rather than drive my car.
My goal was to see what my daughter and I would do if we were without a car in downtown La Jolla for two nights. I was really looking forward to being “stranded” in my hometown at a fantastic hotel.
A Brief History
The Grande Colonial is La Jolla’s oldest original hotel. It first opened in 1913 and was a gathering place for locals and Hollywood stars performing at La Jolla Playhouse. Military men called it home during World War II.
The hotel has gone through several renovations, with the most recent in 2019 resulting in the hotel achieving Four Diamond recognition.
The original La Jolla Drugstore (once located next door to the Grande Colonial) was moved into the hotel in 1926. An ice cream parlor was added on the sidewalk and this space became a popular local gathering spot.
Well, that drugstore is now NINE-TEN restaurant.
Prospect Street Location
The location really doesn’t get much better. The Grande Colonial is on Prospect Street, with my favorite shops and restaurants within a very short walk.
In fact, the choices are so overwhelming that even I had a hard time deciding where to eat and what to do. It’s a good problem to have, certainly. If you forget your bathing suit, need a drugstore or snacks for the kids – not to worry, it’s all right there.
The Children’s Pool is a very short walk from Grande Colonial. In fact, we could see the La Jolla seals on the beach there from our suite.
This beach isn’t for sunbathing, but La Jolla Cove is right around the corner. Adjacent massive grassy area is also a great place for a picnic.
If your kids are craving a traditional playground, the La Jolla Recreation Center is about a 10-minute walk away. If the tides cooperate, there’s also a sandy beach at Shell Beach and south of the Children’s Pool.
This boutique hotel has 97 guest rooms and 22 suites specifically for extended stays at the Tudor Wing, Garden Terraces and Little Hotel by the Sea.
We stayed in a Colonial Suite with a generously sized living area complete with desk, lounge chairs, free WiFi, and a TV. This suite is a perfect size for a family of three or four.
The living area was open to the bedroom, which in our case had two beds. The closet and dressing area were quite large and could be a great place for kids to sprawl out and unwind from a long day at the beach.
I also appreciated the generously sized mini-fridge, which makes it easy to bring home leftovers from meals out or stock up on must-have snacks for kids.
The decor at the time of our stay was traditional European-style and totally in line with the historic ambiance of the hotel. It was updated during the latest renovation to be more contemporary in style.
If you’re staying with your family or not a night owl, I would suggest that you make sure your room (if in the main building) is not near NINE-TEN, as patrons sit on the patio and chat until late in the evening.
Excellent Food from NINE-TEN
I didn’t realize our stay would include what amounts to an IV drip to one of my favorite La Jolla restaurants, NINE-TEN.
I like to check the hotel books and room service menus right after getting settled into our room. When I saw the half-baked chocolate cake on the room service menu, I nearly died. We ate it 3 times in 48 hours. It’s served warm, gooey, with caramel and vanilla ice cream and definitely one of the best desserts in La Jolla.
We’d never taken our daughter to NINE-TEN, and now I’m not sure why. They have a nice kid’s menu for lunch and dinner that’s very reasonably priced and includes a side of fruit.
We ate lunch together in the bar area on the first day and from then on she actually insisted we eat there for almost every meal. Fine by me.
We did have a NINE-TEN reservation for dinner on the evening my husband joined us at the hotel. We always order the three-course menu and I pretty much always get the short ribs, pictured here with mushroom puffs, shallots, and carrots.
My husband ordered the Hamachi starter and I had the heirloom tomato salad, both to die for. And, of course, we finished with the half baked chocolate cake and gourmet cheese.
We also almost always dine on Wine Wednesdays when wines by the bottle are half the price. NINE-TEN has a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for their extensive wine menu. It’s so large, that I have trouble deciding, but the servers recommendations are always a hit.
NINE-TEN provides the room service menu. For breakfast, get the lemon ricotta pancakes and you can thank me later. Delivery was very quick and cost reasonable for what you get.
It’s not going to be your main attraction with the beaches around the corner, but there’s a nice, quiet pool.
It’s not quite big enough for swimming laps, but kids will enjoy it. It’s about 3 feet deep at the edges and slightly deeper in the middle.
Towels and cold lemon water are provided. And, you can order NINE-TEN for delivery to the pool area. During our stay, it was a rare 90 degrees in La Jolla at 9:00 a.m. so we definitely took advantage of the pool area.
No Need For a Car
Unless you are headed to SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo or other family attractions, you don’t need a car. You can easily park just your family at the Grande Colonial for a long weekend and take Uber when you need to
Check the Grande Colonial website to see what kind of promotional packages they are offering. Some include dining credits or complimentary valet parking. It’s a great deal for the location and what you get.
I am biased, because I purposefully try to do everything in La Jolla.
We have some of the best views, shopping and restaurants in San Diego. I truly enjoyed staycationing at Grande Colonial, because it allowed me to explore my little town from a different perspective.
I shifted into vacation mode and casually wandered around like a tourist instead of rushing to do errands during school time. My daughter had a blast doing the same.
And, having been a London resident, I love the hotel’s retrofitted London cab.