Along the sunny streets of Downtown La Jolla, the Grand Colonial Hotel awaits with the vintage California getaway of your dreams! Since 1913, this historic boutique hotel has served jetsetters coming to enjoy La Jolla’s relaxing waters and bright beachy atmosphere. It’s always the prettiest building on the block and continues to beckon visitors with a classic and luxurious seaside holiday.
As the oldest hotel in La Jolla, the Grande Colonial has deep roots stretching back over 100 years in the town’s history. Since its inception in 1913, the hotel set out to provide the most modern, luxurious accommodations in all of La Jolla. The original building was designed by Richard Requa who would later design the California Exposition in Balboa Park as well. The Colonial Hotel and Apartments set the standard for modern lodgings with private baths, electric lights and long distance telephone service. By 1925, proprietor George Bane wanted to expand and build an even bigger, more modern hotel. In 1928, the new five-story building debuted with central heating, refrigerators and the “first fire sprinkler system west of the Mississippi.”
The La Jolla Drugstore, a town institution in itself, was located right next to the hotel and was later incorporated into the new concrete building. At the pharmacy one could buy sodas, ice cream and enjoy outdoor seating, making it the most popular place for locals and visitors to gather in town. The hotel loves sharing that the drugstore pharmacist was none other than the father of Gregory Peck. Gregory Peck, the star of Roman Holiday, grew up in La Jolla himself. He later played a big role in establishing the popular La Jolla Playhouse and attracting Hollywood stars to his hometown. The old pharmacy is now NINE-TEN, the hotel’s main restaurant which has won numerous awards and ratings of excellence.
The Grande Colonial is no stranger to Hollywood stars, old and new, who have always loved visiting the hotel for some low-key R&R. Since the days of the La Jolla Playhouse, classic movie stars such as Ginger Rogers and Zsa Zsa Gabor stayed at the Grande Colonial and attended plays throughout the summer. Even now, celebrities such as Will Ferrell love coming to the hotel for family vacations.
Everything about the hotel is timeless. The charming buttercream-yellow façade never looks out of place no matter how much time has passed. Despite the multiple renovations it’s undergone throughout the years, the Grande Colonial effortlessly maintains its classic, European air. The lobby which is full of hues of gold and dark mahogany is perfectly refined without being over-the-top opulent. Every part of the hotel is simply relaxing with no trace of pretentiousness. Every corner is filled with sunlight and a sense of place, reminding you that you’re in La Jolla to rest and have fun.
The hotel is broken down into different sections with guest rooms in the main five-story and apartment-style studios in the Garden Terrace the Little Hotel by the Sea. The decor of the rooms is bright and luxurious, accented with ocean pastel colors such as sea green and blue against sunny yellows. Even with the classic vintage feel, the room has essential modern luxuries such an espresso maker and Wi-Fi. It’s fun to simply relax amongst the plush furniture and happy colors in the room, especially if it has an ocean view in the main building. There is a small circular pool with daybeds on property, but it’s more of an afterthought since the beach is just a 5 minute walk away.
The hotel has the prime location for exploring La Jolla. It’s located at the start of the main road, where guests can easily walk to all the offerings of downtown. The center of La Jolla is lined with high-class fashion boutiques, elegant restaurants, healthy cafes and beautiful galleries. On the other side of the main road is the beach and La Jolla Cove, just a five minute walk away from the hotel. Guests can stroll along the cliffs and down to La Jolla Cove, a beautiful natural alcove made of rocks and an intimate shore. Seeing the sea lions and seals that come to rest on the cliffs are a must-do for anyone visiting La Jolla. All of this is easily accessible from the Grande Colonial and the hotel even has pretty cruiser bicycles available for renting to explore the town.
Possessing a rich history, Hollywood glamour and lovely continental-style luxury, the Grande Colonial checks all the boxes for a dreamy vintage vacation. With such a charmed character and history, the Grande Colonial Hotel is the only place to stay for those looking to discover the true spirit of magical La Jolla.
Photos: Nadia Cho