Concierge.com's insider take:
The casual, understated elegance of the Grande Colonial hotel, a 93-room Euro-style boutique in the heart of La Jolla, lies somewhere between the buttoned-up La Valencia and the chic Hotel Parisi. Completely refurbished in 2000, this historic hotel was built in 1913 and is comprised of three buildings: the five-story main structure; the ten-suite extended-stay Garden Terrace; and the eight-suite Little Hotel by the Sea. All three are decorated in subtle shades of pale blue, yellow, or green, with striped drapes that have a beachy vibe. You won't find a minibar in the main building's rooms (though the garden suites have them), nor an on-site gym (though you can pick up a $25 day pass to a nearby facility). The bathrooms are more basic than luxurious, but there's a simplicity here that makes you feel at home (well, at a very wealthy friend's home, outfitted with impeccable taste and an exceptionally friendly staff). The suites in the Garden Terrace and the Little Hotel come with kitchens and are closest to the water, but if it's prime Pacific views you're after, ask for an ocean-facing room on the upper floors of the main hotel. Don't miss the bustling restaurant, Nine-Ten (but skip the dining room and grab a seat at the bar, where the short rib panini and homemade potato chips steal the show).—Audrey Davidow
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