La Jolla Mom

Our Stay At The Grande Colonial La Jolla

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, first opening in 1913. During the Grande Colonial’s early years, it was a gathering place for locals, Hollywood stars performing at La Jolla Playhouse and home to military men during World War II. It’s gone through a few renovations, with the most recent in 2008 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!

The Location

In my opinion, 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.

You can see from my photo below that the Children’s Pool is a very short walk from Grande Colonial. In fact, we could see the La Jolla seals on the beach from our suite. You can go to the beach here, but La Jolla Cove is right around the corner. The 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.

The Rooms

This boutique hotel has 75 guest rooms and 18 suites specifically for extended stays at the Garden Terraces and Little Hotel by the Sea. We stayed in a Colonial Suite that is in a quiet little building behind the main hotel. It had a generously sized living area complete with desk, lounge chairs, free wireless internet (I had a few problems with the signal, but it worked great most of the time) and a TV. This suite is a perfect size for a family of 3 or 4.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but La Jolla Girl packed a suitcase full of toys. Here are the princesses enjoying their ocean view.

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. The bathroom has a shower/tub combo and pretty (also the cleanest I’ve ever seen in a hotel) white tiles. There’s a sink in the dressing area and sink in the bathroom area. 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 is traditional European-style and totally in line with the historic ambiance of the hotel. If you’re expecting contemporary Asian zen with all the latest and greatest gadgets, it’s not here. You won’t miss it though. 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.

The Food

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t realize our stay would include what amounts to an IV drip to one of my favorite restaurants in La Jolla, NINE-TEN. I have a habit of checking 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.

NINE-TEN Half Baked Chocolate Cake

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.

NINE-TEN La Jolla Short Ribs

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.

The Pool

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.


Check the Grande Colonial website to see what kind of promotional packages they are offering. Some include dining credits or complimentary valet parking, normally $22 per night. Rooms range from about $199 – $320 per night depending on size and view. It’s a great deal for the location and what you get.

Final Thoughts

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 The Grande Colonial, because it allowed me to explore my little town from a different perspective. I shifted in 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. Since the holidays are coming, consider the Grande Colonial for out of town guests. Or, do a staycation like we did. You can view more of my Grande Colonial photos on the La Jolla Mom Facebook page.

And, having been a London resident, I love the hotel’s retrofitted London cab.

Please share your experiences at the Grande Colonial. And, I’d love to hear what you order at NINE-TEN!

*Our stay at the Grande Colonial and dinner at NINE-TEN were provided complimentary. Opinions are my own, as always.

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