On a sun-drenched afternoon, Estancia La Jolla Resort & Spa is especially lovely. The privacy-minded property, once a famous equestrian ranch, features rancho-style architecture and 10 acres of verdant gardens, serene courtyards, adobe fireplaces, and paths that wind through the grounds. There’s also a large pool and an on-site spa. Across from the UC San Diego campus, Estancia is perched on a coastal bluff well above the ocean, but from the hotel, the Black’s Beach is only a four-minute drive or a 25-minute walk -- if you don’t mind a heart-pumping uphill walk back, that is.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Black’s Beach is a secluded surfing and sunbathing spot, but be forewarned: It’s also one of the most popular nude beaches in the country.
Airy, attractive rooms feature warm colors and comfortable furnishings that complement the white stucco and terracotta tile roofing of the hacienda-chic hotel. Spacious rooms feature either a king bed or two queens. Some have a private balcony or patio.
Elegant bathrooms have console sinks with marble counters and a white-tiled bathtub-shower combo.
Estancia’s lobby is a sophisticated take on hacienda style, with white stucco walls, terracotta tile floors, a soaring ceiling with exposed wood beams and rafters, a wrought-iron candle chandelier, and paned windows that flood the space with diffused light. A foursome of rustic-chic chairs sit in front of a fireplace, and potted cacti and artwork add splashes of color. The hotel’s scenic grounds also feature seating areas for relaxing alfresco.
There’s a small coffee shop just off the lobby.
Bordered by a perfectly manicured hedge and potted palms and tropical plants, the large, inviting saltwater pool is one of Estancia’s top features. Soak up the sun on a cushy chaise, catch up on reading under a terracotta orange-hued umbrella, or hang out in a private cabana. There’s also a whirlpool.
The hotel’s 7,000-square-foot spa has landed on many “best of” lists. Offering massages, facials, and body skincare treatments that feature mostly organic products, the tranquil spa has a lovely waiting room, saline whirlpools, eucalyptus steam rooms, and a meditation garden with an adobe fireplace. There’s also a private bungalow for couples massages.
The hotel’s fitness center includes cardio equipment (treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers), strength-training machines, free weights, and yoga mats and balls.
Feeling playful? The hotel has lawn games like croquet, cornhole and table tennis. You can also rent an electric bike.
Set in an antique hacienda with adobe brick, Mustangs & Burros serves creative Baja-inspired California cuisine. The dining room and outdoor patio both feature large fireplaces. A Latin guitarist performs live music most Sundays.
Estancia’s wine bar is the only Southern California tasting room for Napa Valley winemaker Trinitas Cellar (Estancia’s owners also own Trinitas and Napa’s Meritage Resort & Spa). The bar offers beer, craft cocktails, and the hotel’s own private label Single Barrel Jack Daniel’s, as well.
Estancia is close to the on-ramp for Interstate 5 (known to locals as “The 5”). I-5 goes Downtown and also north along the coast. Other highways and roads connect east and west. Estancia is located on Torrey Pines Road, which continues on to the Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve and Del Mar. The road then becomes Camino del Mar, and after Del Mar turns into the iconic Pacific Coast Highway 101 (some stretches of the highway were replaced by the 5.
The only drawback to Estancia’s tucked-away location is a lack of restaurants in easy walking distance. But there are a few options, including the popular Bella Vista Social Club and Caffe (7-minute walk), a much-beloved Italian restaurant that has a large outdoor terrace overlooking the ocean and the Salk Institute. Bella Vista is also a block from the Torrey Pines Gliderport. For a memorable afternoon, start by touring the grounds of the Salk Institute, which is world-renowned for its iconic architecture by Louis I. Kohn -- fans of modernism practically consider it a pilgrimage (UCSD also has some wonderful modernist buildings). Then watch an epic sunset while dining at Bella Vista. By car, there are more options close by, including A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines (5-minute drive), a romantic special-occasion spot featuring seasonal California cuisine and live jazz (The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a timbered hotel overlooking Torrey Pines Golf Course, is also worth a tour).
Unless you want to drink at a campus pub with UCSD students, bars are also in short supply near Estancia, but there are options a short drive away in La Jolla Village. Locals and tourists alike hang out at The Spot (7-minute drive), a casual tavern with a fireplace that serves pub grub and drinks. It opened in 1915, making it the longest continuously running restaurant in La Jolla It’s a solid option for happy hour drinks or a late-night bite. The elegant oceanfront Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar (7-minute drive) at the Grande Colonial hotel has an elegant marble-topped bar and a happy hour from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. that’s been known to attract local movers and shakers.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Secluded and picturesque, with rancho-style architecture and extensive grounds, the Estancia La Jolla is perfect for a romantic getaway or for relaxing and recharging in a truly stunning setting. Airy rooms, serene gardens, a large saltwater pool, and a spacious spa add to the hotel’s allure.