San Diego is oftentimes overlooked as a luxury destination. Maybe it’s our laid-back style, love of cheap tacos or the fact that businessmen in suits can be seen riding skateboards into work, but our stigma as an untailored city isn’t quite so accurate. Although our neighbor to the north lays claim to more four- and five-star hotels and Michelin-starred eateries than SD, what America’s Finest City offers is refined luxury that is approachable and personal.
Because the city isn’t overcrowded with luxury properties, staying in these resorts offers travelers a greater sense of exclusivity that isn’t always found in large metropolitan destinations. Of the city’s 14 upscale hotels, many have been named among the nation’s best resorts and have been awarded for their fine dining venues, world-class spas and top-notch golf courses. One hotel that is consistently ranked a national and international best is the AAA Four Diamond L’Auberge Del Mar, A Destination Hotel.
The property sits just steps from the beach in Del Mar, offering direct access to the Pacific. Although this is an oceanfront community, L’Auberge is one of the few luxury hotels that offers this amenity (others require some driving time) in SD. The hotel is also nestled among Del Mar’s coastal village which is home to boutique shops, restaurants, art galleries and entertainment venues. Guests can easily walk to and from the town without having to rent a car. Plus, you’re only a 5-10 minute drive away from the Del Mar racetrack and fairgrounds which hold events and festivals all year long.
L’Auberge is pretty stunning as soon as you drive up. The open layout lobby offers views directly to the Pacific so that you immediately get a sense of place upon arrival. At the beginning of this year, the resort completed a $4 million redesign that included updates to the property’s guest rooms and meeting spaces. Lest you miss any moment of the crashing waves outside, a live TV feed is set up behind the front desk so that even when you’re checking in, you can see the surf.
From the lobby, guests can cozy up at the bar and lounge indoors, make a reservation for dinner at Kitchen 1540 or head outside to Coastline, the hotel’s outdoor restaurant. As you walk around the property, you’ll notice artwork from artist and photographer Aaron Changshowcasing his surf and ocean images.
All 121 guestrooms and suites have been upgraded as well and now boast a beach-casual and upscale-chic aesthetic that feels more homey than a standard hotel room. Designed by Los Angeles interior designer Barclay Butera, rooms include wood furnishings, curated art, fireplaces (some), coastal-inspired color accents and white shuttered windows and doors. One of our favorite categories are the Cabana rooms, which open out onto a large patio shared with three other guestrooms. The spacious terrace holds two cabanas plus couches and small nooks to relax in. These would be great for wedding parties who want a public space to gather in while still having quick access to their own private rooms.
There are seven suites on property ranging in size from 500 square feet to 1,222 square feet. The largest, the Del Mar, comes with three patios, a fireplace, u-shaped wet bar, dining room table with seating for up to eight, an oversized tub, bidet and double vanity.
With (almost) year-round perfect weather, one of the best places to be on the property is poolside. The area holds a handful of cabanas and a mixture of lounge chairs and sofas, all encircling the pool. Outside of the gated area is the bar where guests can enjoy al fresco drinks in the seating area or have attendants bring you cocktails or food right to your lounge chair.
Kicking off this Memorial Day weekend, the hotel will be offering Beach Valet Service for those who want to sink their toes in the sand while sun bathing. Guests can be transported directly to Del Mar’s 15th Street Beach for a day of surfing, swimming, picnicking and sandcastle building. The resort will set up chairs, umbrellas and towels on the beach and will provide items such as Frisbees, bodyboards, kites and sand pails for guest’s use.
Depending on your dining preference, the hotel has two restaurants on property. Coastline is it’s more upscale-casual eatery and serves fresh California fare overlooking the Pacific. At Kitchen 1540, the resort’s signature restaurant, guests can enjoy a more fine dining atmosphere. The venue features an open presentation kitchen, a private dining room wrapped in wine-encased walls, and a white vaulted ceiling that opens out onto the patio area. Outdoors, diners can enjoy dinner under the stars or reserve a private cabana for an intimate evening.
Everything about L’Auberge shouts luxury while still offering travelers a laid-back Californian experience. When most people come to San Diego, they often choose to stay downtown, but as locals knows, the beaches are where the magic is. Because of its location within walking distance of the ocean and to the quaint Del Mar village, L’Auberge provides exactly the type of Southern California vacation you’d expect when visiting SD.