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Fall Paradise at Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla

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Paradise comes in many ways. Recently it came in the form of a charming suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a secluded beach, and a delicious, 40-day aged cut of prime steak. In other words, I spent a night at the historic Grande Colonial in La Jolla and dined at the property’s renowned NINE-TEN Restaurant & Bar.

A friend and I recently escaped to the 100-yr-old Grande Colonial for a memorable seaside getaway. Our adventure began when we checked into a beautiful suite overlooking the ocean. The suite dripped with classic design and elegance. It was like a night at a governor’s mansion back in the 1930s or 40s, but with all of the modern luxuries of a AAA Four Diamond Award recipient.

the Grande Colonial Hotel, La Jolla
The Grande Colonial has been welcoming guests since 1913. Photo by Greg Aragon

The room was located in the hotel’s Colonial Suites building, surrounded by lush gardens and the pool. Upon entering the suite, we encountered an entertaining room with comfortable lounge chairs and an office area with desk and free high-speed Internet, a Keurig coffee maker, and a large HD TV.

view from room at Grande Colonial
The views from the rooms are pretty awesome. Photo by Greg Aragon

There was also a sleeping area with two queen beds, with goose down comforters; a dressing room with double sinks and a walk-in closet; and a bright bathroom with classic, black and white checkered tiling. The room was highlighted by huge old-fashioned windows that opened wide to let in cool sea breezes and offer magnificent views of La Jolla’s beach and rocky coves.

Once acquainted with the suite, we explored the 93-room boutique hotel and its grounds. Opened in 1913 as La Jolla’s first hotel, the Grande Colonial started as an apartment / hotel. It soon added a pharmacy run by the father of actor Gregory Peck, who grew up in La Jolla. In the coming years, the hotel would host notables such as Charlton Heston, Groucho Marx, Jane Wyatt, Eve Arden, Pat O’Brien and David Niven.

Throughout its 100 years, the five-story hotel has seen numerous upgrades and owners, but has always kept its signature Colonial revival-style architecture and its prominent corner location, one block above the ocean. The hotel’s most recent renovation was to its signature dining spot, the NINE-TEN Restaurant & Bar, which is located next to the lobby.

the Nine Ten Restaurant at the Grande Colonial
The Nine-Ten’s “evolving California cuisine” is led by award-winning Chef Jason Knibb. Photo by Greg Aragon

Last month the restaurant opened after a $300,000 upgrade. The result is an exciting, new upscale dining spot with modern vibe, and colors infused with emerald green and light wood, and a stone tiled floor. The design focal point is a vibrant and locally inspired ocean and fauna wall panorama created by renowned artist Dana Montlack.

writer sampling Nine-Ten's 40-day aged prime rib-eye steak
The 40-day aged prime rib-eye steak at Nine-Ten is worth a drive to La Jolla. Photo by Greg Aragon

While the décor is refreshing and enticing, the real star of the restaurant is the food. Led by award-winning Chef Jason Knibb and Pastry Chef Jose Alonzo III, the place specializes in a farm-to-table philosophy and features a harvest from local artisan farmers where produce is selected daily for the restaurant’s seasonal menus.

Our meal at NINE-TEN began with grilled octopus, with haricot verts and Spanish chorizo relish, whipped hummus, sherry vinaigrette, and spiced potato chips. For the main course I enjoyed an incredible 40-day aged prime rib-eye steak with mashed potatoes, onion rings and Japanese peppers – all on a unique plate made from a sliced tree ring. My friend devoured the Alaskan Halibut, with a summer succotash of corn, squash, zucchini, fava beans, dried cherry tomatoes, chanterelle mushrooms, fennel pollen and corn dashi emulsion.

After dinner, we had a drink in the restaurant bar and then relaxed in the heated pool before retiring for the evening. In the morning we walked to the La Jolla Underwater Park, a 6,000-acre tideland area of rocky reefs, kelp beds, sand flats, and submarine canyons. The park is naturally a popular destination for colorful fish, snorkelers, scuba divers and kayakers.

beach near Grande Colonial
Beautiful beaches and tide pools are a short walk from the Grande Colonial. Photo by Greg Aragon

Near the Underwater Park is the Children’s Pool, where scores of adorable harbor seals can be found lounging on the sand inside a beautiful cove. This place was recently named by TripAdvisor as one of the “Top 10 Wonderfully Unique Beaches” in the world.

courtyard and pool at Grande Colonial
Lovely courtyards and stately rooms and suites keep guests returning to the Grande Colonial. Photo by Greg Aragon

The Grande Colonial Hotel is located at 910 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037. The hotel also offers 5,000 sq-ft of indoor and outdoor event space, in-room spa treatments, concierge-arranged ocean activities; airport shuttles and more. For more information and reservations, call (888) 828-5498 or visit: www.thegrandecolonial.com

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