hotel on the bluffs by the ocean

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

Set atop the dramatic bluffs of the Encinitas coastline, the Alila Marea is the perfect getaway for those seeking a serene oceanside retreat.

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Lounge at Andaz San Diego, San Diego, California - Photo Courtesy Red Square, Inc.

Andaz San Diego

The Andaz’s central location in the Gaslamp Quarter provides easy access to neighborhood restaurants, lounges and clubs. The 159 guest rooms are sleek and modern, featuring designer lighting, local art and, in some rooms, glass-walled bathrooms.

The hotel offers a good value, including for its modern boutique accommodations, amenities and services, like poolside massages. The rooftop fitness center as well as restaurant and bar boast beautiful views of the area.

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Exterior at Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, California

Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

An exceptional spa retreat in the California mountains near San Diego, Cal-a-Vie offers top-notch service, excellent classes and superb food in an elegant, intimate setting. With a delightfully warm ambiance, guests are encouraged to push their limits in a safe, supportive atmosphere.
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Pool at Estancia La Jolla, San Diego, California

Estancia La Jolla

Just north of the Torrey Pines State Reserve in the beach community of La Jolla, this former equestrian estate is set on 10 verdant acres with 210 rooms, and still manages to feel intimate and relaxed. From its red-tile roofs and hand-plastered walls to its hundreds of citrus, olive, fig, eucalyptus and pomegranate trees, the property looks very much like a Spanish Mission-style ranch with its own botanical gardens including a separate rose garden.

Swathed in shades of caramel and cream, rooms feature white-tiled baths and either patios or balconies overlooking the lush courtyard spa is complete with a saltwater whirlpool and Asian influenced therapies including a cherry blossom and rice powder body scrub and massage.

The weekend breakfast buffet at Adobe restaurant is very popular, while hacienda-style Mustangs & Burros offers fine dining matched with incredible tequilas. The awarding winning Trinitas Cellars Wine Bar offers wine by the glass or flights.

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Facade at Fairmont Grand Del Mar, San Diego, California

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Taking design cues from American resort architect Addison Mizner, who drew inspiration from Europe’s palaces and coastal retreats, this sprawling 249-room property has old-world charm to spare. Channeling colonial Spain and France, in-room details include hand-stenciled ceilings and marble baths. The hotel’s scale is indeed impressive: it sits on 380 acres in the posh northern San Diego community of Del Mar, with an 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course, a 20,000-square foot spa, four swimming pools and access to the 4,000-acre Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The spacious rooms have views of either the golf course or preserve and feature traditional—if dated—décor, with silk-upholstered curtains, tartan-printed textiles and striped beige wallpaper.

The property’s six dining venues and their creative chefs offer guests a wide array of options. Tuck into Jidori chicken and lobster and crab pappardelle at the property’s all-day restaurant, Amaya. For a special occasion, the 10-course tasting menu at sophisticated Addison, located up the resort's hill and helmed by chef William Bradley, is a must. Other dining options include some grab-and-go cafés as well as a lovely afternoon tea served in the library.

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Living Room at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, San Diego, California

Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara

An ideal location for visiting northern San Diego attractions such as Legoland and the Flower Fields, these one- and two-bedroom residences are truly perfect for families. Parents will appreciate the stocked kitchen and washers and dryers (which especially come in handy after a day at the pool).

Rooms, awash in camel brown, mustard yellow and cream, are more than adequately spacious with fireplaces, living and dining areas, open kitchen, marble baths and patios or balconies. The freshly renovated lobby, spa and indoor-outdoor restaurant feel incredibly chic and modern without losing the Four Seasons’ reliable sense of warmth.

The farm-to-table Seasons restaurant serves beautifully plated dishes such as beets with avocado and pistachio brittle and salmon with beluga lentils. Guests are invited to sit at the counter and watch as their dishes are prepared; for dessert, the little ones can make s’mores by the firepit.

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Exterior View - Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, California

Hotel Del Coronado

Having welcomed presidents and such iconic celebrities as Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin during its heyday, the 757-room Hotel del Coronado, which sits on 28 acres, is a legend in its own right. Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, the Del, with its relaxed vibe and direct beach access, is a classic and popular option. Guests looking for a taste of its authentic charm can book a room in the original Victorian building; accommodations are also available in the newer Beach Village, which offers villa-style configurations complete with separate kitchens.

From cruising around the island on bikes to paddleboarding lessons, activities abound. Children from ages four and up to teens will stay busy with anything from cooking classes and scavenger hunts to beach Olympics and movie nights. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy the spa and treatments such as an oxygen facial or full body massage incorporating heated and chilled shells to relax muscles and increase blood flow. The property boasts several dining options including the dinner-only 1500 Ocean restaurant, the Crown Room with an extravagant Sunday brunch spread and an old-school ice cream parlor.

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Lodge at Torrey Pines

The Lodge at Torrey Pines, set on a bluff-side golf course just north of La Jolla, is a cozy departure from the beachy aesthetic typical of Southern California: paintings are hung from leather straps, images of bears, deer and the Yosemite Valley are spread throughout and many rooms have large stone fireplaces. Most mornings, clouds float in from the Pacific, giving an ethereal glow to the rich redwood and reclaimed brick and stone that were used to build the resort. As the cloud layer burns off around noon, guests are left with picturesque views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape.

The top accommodations are the Palisade Rooms, which have large double bathrooms, beautiful fireplaces and direct (if at times distant) views of the ocean. The design of the larger suites is based on the Blacker and Gamble houses of Pasadena, and some of the balconies have their own fireplaces—perfect for sipping a cocktail outside and watching the sun set over the Pacific. A.R. Valentien is the hotel’s fine-dining option, while The Grill has a large, wood-fired oven so guests can watch their food being cooked just a few feet away from the putting green. There are numerous activities available both on property and in the immediate area, including hiking trails, a glider port and an enormous spa.

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Pool at Rancho Valencia, San Diego, California

Rancho Valencia

Each of the 49 sprawling casitas at this Rancho Santa Fe resort offers vaulted ceilings, hand-painted tiles, a four-poster bed, indoor and outdoor fireplaces and a plunge pool. Guests may find it hard to tear themselves away from the beautiful hacienda-style suite, but touring the grounds will surely pay off. This truly special property has an outstanding tennis program—at any time, former pro Robin Wright can be found giving lessons on one of the 18 tennis courts. There are several pools—two saline pools, the main pool and the adults-only spa pool—and The Spa, where guests can arrange for treatments from a citrus and rosehip oil body scrub to quirogolf massage, which uses golf balls to massage and relax muscles and improve flexibility.

Come dinner, the Pony Room bar does fantastic salads, burgers and flatbreads along with signature margaritas (the bar boasts 100 types of tequila), craft cocktails and wine. Veladora, the resort’s fine-dining restaurant, features everything from Hudson Valley foie gras and Kusshi oysters to filet mignon and vegetable green curry with red rice.

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