Sometimes, you need to sleep in a freshly made bed that’s not your own. Place that bed inside a lovely hotel next to the ocean or at least a pool, and your refresh button might go into overdrive. Our editors recently visited three SoCal spots — Del Mar Hotel, Terranea Resort and Pasadena Hotel & Pool — and offer their vibe checks here.
Del Mar Beach Hotel
A stay at Del Mar Beach Hotel gives you the beach as your backyard. You literally step out of your room and onto the sand. My husband and I picked up lunch one day and had a picnic on the beach. We read on the patio overlooking the ocean, went for long walks and watched the sunset, savoring each moment of our beach getaway.
The vibe: This spot makes you feel like you’re crashing at your very cool friend’s beach pad. It’s hip and modern following a multimillion-dollar redesign completed last year. Think plank wood floors, headboard mural paying homage to our gorgeous Pacific Coast and curated art focusing on the hotel’s rich history.
Unique features: While staying at the only ocean-front hotel in Del Mar, you can take a beach stroll, go for a bike ride or walk to the quaint Del Mar Village just a few minutes away. The 46-room hotel also offers beachside concierge with boogie boards, foam surf boards, towels, chairs and umbrellas.
Where to eat: Del Mar Village is a charming seaside oasis just 20 miles north of San Diego. It’s walkable with a small-town feel and spectacular ocean views. While taking a stroll here, definitely stop at An’s Hatmakers for award-winning gelato served from a hat shop. For dinner, enjoy a golden SoCal sunset with a mixed seafood pot or a sumac-crusted Norwegian salmon at Jake’s Del Mar.
If just the thought of packing for a vacation leaves me overwhelmed — darn the diapers, wipes, floaties, pillows for picky sleepers and so on — I know it’s time for a break that requires very little from me once I arrive. One of my favorite vacation spots for that simple getaway is Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes.
The vibe: At a mere 30 miles south of Los Angeles, the resort’s gorgeous setting and stellar service mean that my crew can quickly shed the responsibilities of home. We slow down our usual frantic pace and breathe deeply. Our muscles let go of tension as we watch the ocean and listen to its waves. We find simple pleasure in spotting bunnies in the brush.
Unique features: The gorgeous bluffs and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean will make you feel like you’re in another country. In addition, all of the lodging here is excellent. I love the ocean-view guestroom near the pool as well as the casitas that have full kitchens and private patios.
Where to eat: My favorite place to eat at Terranea will always be Nelson’s. The cliff-top restaurant’s delicious food — think lobster rolls and swordfish tacos — is served with unbeatable views, and it’s a comfortable place to dine if you have wiggly littles. Other dining options onsite are plentiful. We tend to visit the coffee shop-style eatery, Sea Beans, for grab-and-go sandwiches and smoothies to eat at the beach, pool or patio. The weekend waffle bar is a hit, too. Catalina Kitchen’s Sunday brunch is a wildly impressive spread, so arrive hungry for anything from fresh-made omelets to crab legs and prime rib. And the new, reservation-required “social grilling” experience at Bashi is a fun option.
Note that even resort guests not staying on property are welcome at each of the restaurants. Resort parking is complimentary for visiting diners. Full story here.
Pasadena Hotel & Pool
During a recent opportunity to do a writing retreat at Pasadena Hotel & Pool, I jumped at the chance. On the first day of spring, I grabbed two reusable bags and stuffed them with a few items of clothing, two laptops (personal and work), books, pencils and pens, a yellow legal pad, the gemstone-studded journal my son gifted me my last birthday and a vision board I’d created during the same time last year. As I drove from South L.A. to Pasadena, crossing a part of the 110 that cuts over my son’s school, I sent my kid a voice text: “I’m passing through Downtown on my way to Pasadena. Mommy loves you, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The vibe: Pasadena Hotel & Pool is located on bustling Colorado Boulevard in Old Town Pasadena, steps away from dozens of restaurants, shops, Playhouse Village and Pasadena Central Library. With 161 rooms, the Chantilly cream-colored Art Deco building is simultaneously subdued and glamorous, calling to mind a double strand of antique pearls lining Dorothy Dandridge’s neck or a multi-tiered wedding cake, tall and stately. A walk — no, waltz — through the newly restored lobby made me wish I were wearing a beaded flapper dress, cloche hat and strappy Mary Jane pumps that clacked against the roasted-coffee-bean-colored tiles.
While Old Hollywood charm beguiles in the lobby, the pool area, surrounded by palms and a view of the San Gabriel mountains, will land you back to modern times. And my room shot me into the future a bit with its artsy and canary-yellow chaise lounge, gold-flecked bathroom wall tiles and massive in-room jacuzzi tub. A bidet with multiple settings and heated seats was icing on the cake.
Where to eat: At the lobby bar, you can order small plates, wine and cocktails. I ordered a drink called “Turn Back Time,” a mix of bourbon, bitters and simple syrup in a crystal glass topped with an orange slice and cherry. After my drink, I walked to Malbec, the Argentinean restaurant around the corner, to indulge in a dish of potato dumplings, truffle Manchego cheese fondue, grilled chicken breast, shrimp and other lush goodness. For lunch the next day, I walked west to have dim sum at a local favorite: Lunasia Dim Sum House. The turnip cakes are addictive. Full story here.