The iconic La Valencia Hotel, in Southern California, has re-opened under new ownership and a glamorous $11 million renovation.

By David A. Keeps
June 22, 2015
Credit: Courtesy La Valencia Hotel

Like many 89-year-olds in Southern California, the venerable pink-stucco ocean-view La Valencia Hotel (doubles from $459) in La Jolla, California, isn’t showing—or acting—her age. Acquired by Pacifica Host Hotels four years ago, the entire historic property, which had become threadbare and dowager-like with the passing of time, has emerged fresh and rejuvenated after an extensive $11 million renovation of public spaces and guest rooms.

The restored mosaic ceilings and painted beams of the hotel’s 70-foot-long La Sala lobby—which now boasts a 20-foot oak cocktail bar and live music—were brought back to life under the watch of Managing Director Mark Dibella, who also oversaw the renovation of the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego.

“Over the hotel’s nine decades, there have been some two-dozen patterns of Spanish, Dutch and California tiles used throughout the building,” he says. “We’ve added 24 more patterns to the legacy, along with fountain and fire features, trellises and wrought iron based on period designs.”

La Med, the hotel’s California-Mediterranean restaurant with patio and ocean-view terrace dining, has been re-designed, and the former Whaling Bar—a fueling station for writers such as Ted “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and Raymond Chandler, as well as actors at the La Jolla Playhouse, founded by Gregory Peck—has been reimagined as the French bistro Café La Rue.

Earlier this month, La Valencia introduced a collection of deluxe accommodations called Icon Suites, and just above beach level, the La Valencia Villa offers 1,200 square feet with vaulted ceilings, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, and a wraparound terrace with views of La Jolla Cove. On the tenth floor, in what was originally a sun deck and, later, a fine dining restaurant, “La V” as it is sometimes called, now offers the 1,100-square-foot Sky Suite, with 180-degree ocean views with retractable windows that let in Pacific breezes.

Later this year, the hotel will also debut the Pacific Suite with a powder room and wet bar for entertaining guests, and coastline view from the living room’s bay window. A spa, to be built in a traditional beach bungalow adjoining the property, is set for 2016.

David A. Keeps is on the Los Angeles beat for Travel + Leisure. The host of Ovation TV's "Art and The City," he writes regularly about travel and design. Follow him on Twitter at @davidkeeps and Instagram at @davidkeepsinsta.